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Festival of Books & Arts

Ann Katz Festival of Books & Arts

Save the dates for this year’s festival!

Oct 24–Nov 13, 2022

Oct 25–Nov 18, 2021

Enjoy the authors, films and performances without leaving your home!

To most safely serve you, the Ann Katz Festival of Books & Arts is presented entirely virtually*.

The 23rd annual Ann Katz Festival of Books & Arts is a month-long festival featuring well-known authors, award-winning films and performing arts events. This year, the festival kicks off with the Indiana premiere of the documentary Spiritual Audacity: The Abraham Joshua Heschel Story. Check out our line-up below and get ready to get up close and personal with this diverse mix of cultural icons.

Join one or see them all from the comfort of your home. We’ll make it as easy as possible for you. Links will be provided shortly before each event. Price for each event is per household for virtual viewing.

*The Joshua Jay program on Thu, Nov 18 has an in-person option. Capacity is limited to 125 people, about 1/3 of our normal maximum. Masks and pre-registration are required, and because it is the Festival’s only in-person event, we can ensure that the auditorium is clean and sanitized. Price is per person for in-person attendance.

See More, Pay Less with the Festival Pass!

If you’re planning to see multiple events, you can save by purchasing a Festival Pass at this year’s discount cost of $30 (Please note that the Festival Pass includes all events but does not include books). As with general admission tickets, price is per household for virtual viewing.

   Buy a Festival Pass   

The JCC’s 23rd annual Ann Katz Festival of Books & Arts is made possible with funding from the Irwin and Ann Katz Cultural Arts and Education Endowment Fund and our major festival sponsors including The Herbert Simon Family Foundation, Lilly Endowment Inc., The National Bank of Indianapolis, Katz Sapper & Miller and Christel DeHaan Family Foundation.

Purchase books and support our authors

    • Some books are sold as an option with program registration:
      • For Florence Adler Swims Forever, pickup is at the JCC. Please bring your proof of purchase (Eventbrite confirmation) with you.
      • For JCC Literary Consortium programs, book orders will be processed the day after the respective program. Please allow 7-10 business days for shipping due to COVID-related USPS delays.
    • Other books can be purchased wherever you purchase books

Mon, Oct 25  |  7 pm  |  FREE

Spiritual Audacity: The Abraham Joshua Heschel Story Indiana premiere

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was one of the most remarkable and inspiring figures of the 20th century. Born in Warsaw, Poland as part of a centuries-old rabbinic dynasty within the Hasidic tradition, he narrowly escaped the Holocaust and arrived in New York in 1940. During the next 30 years he emerged as one of the most influential voices in the world of religion. He was a mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders within the U.S. civil rights movement (including John Lewis and Andrew Young, who are interviewed in the film), a leading critic of the Vietnam War, a champion for Soviet Jews, an author of several books now considered religious classics and a pioneer in the work of interfaith dialogue

Followed by a conversation moderated by Rabbi Dennis Sasso with filmmaker Martin Doblmeier and Susannah Heschel, Rabbi Heschel’s daughter and Eli M. Black Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College.

This film is part of a series of documentaries from Journey Films, made possible by grants from Lilly Endowment Inc., about significant 20th century theologians and religious leaders who continue to have influence in the world today

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Sponsored by and presented in partnership with Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, with generous support from Lilly Endowment.

Lilly Endowment Inc logo in black


Tue, Oct 26  |  7 pm
$10 ticket only, $17 for ticket plus a copy of the book (pick up at the JCC)

Rachel Beanland Florence Adler Swims Forever
This year’s Community Reads book. Beanland will be interviewed by author Barbara Shoup of Indiana Writer’s Center

As so many will attest, this New York Times Best Seller is a thought-provoking and entertaining read. Inspired by her own family history, in her debut novel Beanland takes readers to 1930s Atlantic City, where a multigenerational Jewish family grapples with the aftermath of a shocking tragedy over the course of a summer. Florence Adler Swims Forever is the winner of the 2020 National Jewish Book Award for Debut Fiction, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and one of USA Today’s “Best Books of 2020.”

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This is a Jewish Book Council program.

Thu, Oct 28 |  7 pm  |  $10
Please support Ira Rosen by purchasing a copy of his book wherever books are sold.

Ira Rosen Ticking Clock: Behind the Scenes at 60 Minutes. Program moderated by CBS4 This Morning anchor and JCC member Angela Brauer

This intriguing book will take you behind the scenes of some of the last 25 years’ biggest stories and most famous (and infamous) reporters. 24-time Emmy Award-win­ning writer and pro­duc­er Ira Rosen reveals the inti­mate, untold sto­ries of his decades at Amer­i­ca’s most icon­ic news show. For near­ly 25 years, Rosen has pro­duced some of the most mem­o­rable, important and ground­break­ing sto­ries for 60 Minutes. He was also a senior producer for Primetime Live with Diane Sawyer.

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This is a Jewish Book Council program.

Sat, Oct 30  |  8 pm  |  $10

Heartland Film Festival presents a selection of award-winning shorts. This partnership with Heartland Film is a perennial favorite.

Films include:

Your Street (Best Documentary Short Grand Prize)

  • A street in the industrial area of a German city, faceless, unobtrusive, unfinished. Warehouses, construction sites and car washes dominate. But little by little, the grey present of the street is being charged with its past, which is linked to one of the most tragic episodes in the history of reunified Germany. Are public memorials collective remembrance or collective repression?

Seahorse (Best Documentary Student Film)

  • The seahorse is a powerful animal. It stands upright in the water and cannot sink, the swimming instructor encourages the children. A place in the human brain is named after it, the hippocampus, where all memory begins. There we archive what we cannot forget. It is the seahorse in the brain where the terror and beauty of life meet – and for Hanan it is where she stores her memories of the ocean. When the young Yezidi crossed the Mediterranean Sea with her family in a small rubber dinghy, she could not swim. The images of the deep blue sea and the fear of drowning are irrevocably burned into her memory. To reconcile her past she learned how to swim. But the waters still await her with haunting images of the ocean. Seahorse poetically explores the contradictions and unpredictabilities of remembrance.

A Concerto is a Conversation (Jenni Berebitsky Legacy Award; 2021 Academy Award nominee)

  • A virtuoso jazz pianist and film composer tracks his family’s lineage through his 91-year-old grandfather from Jim Crow Florida to the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Street Reporter (Audience Choice)

  • Sheila White, 59, dreams of becoming a photojournalist and escaping her life of homelessness. As a reporter investigating the story of “Tent City” for the local street paper, Sheila discovers the power of her voice as a community journalist and the re-humanizing effects of life’s most basic need: a place to call home.

Close Ties to Home Country (Comedy)

  • Akanksha, a young immigrant (“originally from India but actually grew up in Saudi Arabia”) is dogsitting Timothee, the baby Frenchie of Instagram influencers India and Harry while they’re on a trip to India. Akanksha’s sister is scheduled to visit her soon—they haven’t seen each other in nine years. While she waits, Akanksha bonds with Timothee, enjoys the spoils of white money, has her friend Sophia over to engage in judgy hijinks, and muses over why she stays away from her home country.
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Mon, Nov 1  |  7 pm  |  $10
Please support Leah Garrett by purchasing a copy of her book wherever books are sold.

Leah Garrett X Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War II. Interviewed by Kathryn W. Lerch, historian and educator.

You might think this book is a page-turning novel, but it is thoroughly researched and excellently written history.

June 1942. The shadow of the Third Reich has fallen across the European continent. In desperation, Winston Churchill forms an unusual plan: a new commando unit made up of Jewish refugees who have escaped to Britain.

The resulting volunteers are a motley crew of intellectuals, artists and athletes, most from Germany and Austria who became elite shock troops, dealing devastating blows against the Nazis. This is their astonishing story.

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This is a Jewish Book Council program.

Tue, Nov 2  |  7:30 pm
$10 for ticket only, $32 for ticket plus a copy of the book (includes shipping from A Cappella Books in Atlanta; continental U.S. only)

Michael Bar-Zohar The Mossad Amazons: The Amazing Women in the Israeli Secret Service

From a former member of Israel’s parliament and one of the country’s foremost experts on espionage comes a declassified inside look at Mossad’s lohamot, or female agents, as they fought against not only external enemy forces but also internal sexism and feelings of isolation. And yet, they were still able to complete dangerous intelligence-gathering, surveillance and even assassination missions across the Middle East.

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Presented in partnership with the JCC Literary Consortium.


Wed, Nov 3  |  7 pm  |  $10
Please support Joshua Greene by purchasing a copy of his book wherever books are sold.

Joshua Greene Unstoppable: Siggi B. Wilzig’s Astonishing Journey from Auschwitz Survivor and Penniless Immigrant to Wall Street Legend. Interviewed by Mickey Maurer.

Unstoppable is the ultimate immigrant story, an epic David-and-Goliath adventure and an inspiring manual for survival in the face of tremendous odds. While American teens were socializing in ice cream parlors, Siggi was suffering beatings by Nazi hoodlums for being a Jew and was soon deported along with his family to Auschwitz. Having survived, and earning a visa to the U.S., Siggi began selling neckties from the trunk of his car and in a little more than a decade rose to become CEO of both a publicly traded oil company and a bank with assets in excess of $4 billion.

Joshua Greene is a renowned Holocaust scholar and filmmaker. His biographies have sold more than 500,000 copies worldwide, his documentaries on Holocaust history have aired on networks such as PBS and Discovery, and he has appeared on multiple national media outlets.

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This is a Jewish Book Council program. Sponsored by Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation.

Sun, Nov 7  |  7:30 pm
$10 for ticket only, $36 for ticket plus a copy of the book (includes shipping from A Cappella Books in Atlanta; continental U.S. only)

Mark Oppenheimer Squirrel Hill: The Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting and the Soul of a Neighborhood

Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, is one of the oldest Jewish neighborhoods in the country, known for its tight-knit community and the profusion of multigenerational families. On October 27, 2018, the community was devastated as 11 Jews were shot and killed while worshipping at the Tree of Life synagogue in the deadliest antisemitic attack in American history. In his book, Oppenheimer collects the stories of a neighborhood grieving and healing, and all the difficult conversations, confrontations, resilience, growth, support and love encountered along the way.

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Presented in partnership with the JCC Literary Consortium.

Tue, Nov 9  |  8 pm
$10 for ticket only, $42 for ticket plus a copy of the book (includes shipping from A Cappella Books in Atlanta; continental U.S. only)

Dorie Greenspan Baking with Dorie. In conversation with New York Times Best Seller and food columnist Melissa Clark

Known for her multiple James Beard Award and IACP Award-winning cookbooks, Dorie Greenspan is back with 150 all new signature recipes. This new collection, her 14th cookbook, arrives exactly 30 years after her food writing debut, much to the delight of her legion of fans.

Never one to leave a recipe unexamined or unimproved, Dorie writes, “Can there really be something new when it comes to chocolate chip cookies? Yes! Try Moko’s cookies with chocolate and poppy seeds or my take on the latest trend in Paris: cookies with extravagant toppings.” The result of these and dozens more re-imaginings is a book filled with inspired and original recipes that offer enchanted, delicious and unexpected surprises.

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Presented in partnership with the JCC Literary Consortium.

Thu, Nov 11  |  7:30 pm
$10 for ticket only, $38 for ticket plus a copy of the book (includes shipping from A Cappella Books in Atlanta; continental U.S. only)

Andrew Lawler Under Jerusalem 

Sacred to three faiths and revered by more than half the people on the planet, Jerusalem conjures up powerful images of the celestial. Yet beneath its narrow alleys and holy places, the ancient city conceals a labyrinthine, three-dimensional time capsule recording five millennia of bustling prosperity, brutal war and repeated religious innovation that altered the course of human history.

Since the days when Abraham Lincoln was in the White House, adventurers, archaeologists and religious zealots have flocked here to hunt for buried treasure, unearth sacred artifacts like the Ark of the Covenant and find proof of the Bible’s veracity. That digging to reveal the past continues today—and, in so doing, continues to alter the city’s future.

Acclaimed journalist Andrew Lawler takes us into the tombs, tunnels and trenches of the Holy City—a saga of biblical treasures, intrepid explorers and political upheaval—and brings to life the indelible characters who have investigated this subterranean landscape.

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Presented in partnership with the JCC Literary Consortium.

Sun, Nov 14  |  2 pm  |  FREE

Leave Them Something A Spirit & Place Festival performance

Writers read their poetry, short fiction and essays selected for an online anthology inspired by Edith Vonnegut’s paintings, which reference environmental justice and the effects of climate change on future generations, and Dance Kaleidoscope performs choreographed dances based on these submissions.

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Presented in partnership with Dance Kaleidoscope, Indiana Writers Center and Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library.

Mon, Nov 15  |  8 pm
$10 for ticket only, $36 for ticket plus a copy of the book (includes shipping from A Cappella Books in Atlanta; continental U.S. only)

Alice Hoffman The Book of Magic

In the spellbinding conclusion to the Practical Magic series, three generations of Owens women (plus one long-lost brother) come together to use their unusual gifts to break a curse and save a young man’s life, as they travel from Paris to London to the English countryside where their ancestor Maria Owens first practiced the Unnamed Art. As with Hoffman’s other works, The Book of Magic celebrates mothers and daughters, sisters and brothers and anyone who has ever been in love.

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Presented in partnership with the JCC Literary Consortium.

Tue, Nov 16 |  7:30 pm
$10 for ticket only, $36 for ticket plus a copy of the book (includes shipping from A Cappella Books in Atlanta; continental U.S. only)

Nick Davis Competing with Idiots: Herman and Joe Mankiewicz, a Dual Portrait. Interviewed by Ben Mankiewicz, Turner Classic Movies host

A fascinating, complex dual biography of Hollywood’s most dazzling—and famous—brothers, and a dark, riveting portrait of competition, love and enmity that ultimately undid them both.

One most famous for having written Citizen Kane (with Orson Welles, as most recently portrayed in David Fincher’s acclaimed Netflix film Mank); the other, All About Eve; one, who only wrote screenplays but believed himself to be a serious playwright, slowly dying of alcoholism and disappointment; the other, a four-time Academy Award-winning director, auteur, sorcerer and seducer of leading ladies, one of Hollywood’s most literate and intelligent filmmakers.

In this large, moving portrait, woven together by the grandson of Herman, great-nephew of Joe, we see the lives of these two men – their dreams and desires, their fear and feuds, struggling to tear themselves from their dark past, and the driving forces that kept them bound to a system they loved and hated.

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Presented in partnership with the JCC Literary Consortium.

Thu, Nov 18  |  7 pm  |  $10
Please support Joshua Jay by purchasing a copy of his book wherever books are sold.

Joshua Jay How Magicians Think: Misdirection, Deception and Why Magic Matters

BIG NEWS: This event will be in-person in the JCC’s Laikin Auditorium as well as virtual! Maximum capacity 125 people (1/3 normal capacity); masks and pre-registration required. In-person registration ends at 11:59 pm on Wed, Nov 17. Price is per person for in-person attendance and per household for virtual viewing.

Joshua Jay is beyond amazing and this promises to be one of the most entertaining evenings we have ever presented. Jay is a former World Champion in Sleight-of-Hand, headliner at Hollywood’s Magic Castle and former illusion consultant for Game of Thrones who has performed on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and The Late Show with James Corden and even fooled Penn & Teller. He has also presented at Harvard University. His book How Magicians Think is a peek behind the curtain at the psychology and performance of sleight-of-hand illusions.

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This is a Jewish Book Council program.