Virtual Cultural Arts & Jewish Heritage Speakers & Authors

The Cultural Arts & Jewish Heritage Programs Department presents engaging virtual speaker and author events on cultural, Jewish, and other contemporary topics.


Now you can use your lunchtime and evening to learn something new and stay connected to your community. Our speaker series on family issues is on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. Our speaker series on Jewish and other contemporary topics is on Mondays at noon and 7:30 p.m. We are also excited to partner with the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta Book Festival to present additional engaging speakers on various days at 8 p.m.

Your registration fees help to fund these programs and Commonpoint Queens’ Services to the community. Registration is required for each event. 

Click here for Virtual Fall Cultural Arts 2020 Classes

Featured Speaker:

Jamie Bernstein
FAMOUS FATHER GIRL: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein
Monday, October 26, 12:00pm

$8 member / $10 non-member
Click HERE to register.

The composer of West Side Story, chief conductor of the NY Philharmonic, a friend of the powerful, and the life of every party, Leonard Bernstein was an American celebrity. But to his daughter Jamie, Bernstein was above all the compulsive teacher and father who taught his daughter to love the world in all its beauty and complexity.

Jamie Bernstein, 4/1/16.

Upcoming Fall 2020 Speakers:

Suzanne NosselSuzanne Nossel, New York, New York, September 12, 2019. Photograph � Beowulf Sheehan
DARE TO SPEAK: Defending Free Speech for All
Monday, November 2, 12:00pm

$8 member / $10 non-member
Click HERE to register.

Online trolls and fascist chat groups. Controversies over campus lectures. Cancel culture versus censorship. The daily hazards and debates surrounding free speech dominate headlines and fuel social media storms. In an era where one tweet can launch—or end—your career, learning to maneuver the fast-changing, treacherous landscape of public discourse has never been more urgent. As a leading voice in support of free expression, Suzanne Nossel will speak about how we can maintain a democratic debate that is open, free-wheeling but at the same time respectful of a rich diversity of backgrounds and opinions. Suzanne Nossel is the CEO of PEN America, the foremost organization working to protect and advance human rights, free expression and literature. She has also served as the Chief Operating Officer of Human Rights Watch and as Executive Director of Amnesty International USA; and held senior State Department positions in the Clinton and Obama administrations.

Joan Lunden  Joan Lunden cultural arts speaker atlanta jcc book festival
WHY DID I COME INTO THIS ROOM? A Candid Conversation About Aging
Sunday, November 8, 8:00pm

$11 for virtual ticket or $36 for virtual ticket and one copy of book (including shipping)
Click HERE to register.

A funny “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” for the aging woman, Joan Lunden delves into various phases of aging in her most candid and revealing book yet. An award-winning journalist, bestselling author, motivational speaker, and women’s health & wellness advocate, Lunden has been a trusted voice in American homes for more than 30 years. As the longest-running female host ever on early morning television, Lunden reported from 26 countries, covered 5 presidents, 5 Olympics, and kept Americans up to date on how to care for their homes, families, and health.

Prof. Rafael MedoffMedoff photo
THE JEWS SHOULD KEEP QUIET: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and America’s Response to the Holocaust
Monday, November 9, 12:00pm

$8 member / $10 non-member
Click HERE to register.

On the anniversary of Kristallnacht, Dr. Rafael Medoff will discuss difficult truths about the U.S. response to to the Holocaust. In his new book, Medoff writes that FDR’s administration deliberately suppressed refugee immigration far below the legal limits. His administration also rejected pleas to drop bombs on the railways to Auschwitz, even while American planes were bombing targets only a few miles away. What motivated FDR? Medoff explores President Roosevelt’s private sentiments toward Jews. Director of the David Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, Dr. Rafael Medoff is the author of more than 20 books about the Holocaust and Jewish history.

Prof. Ayala FaderAyala Fader Author Photo
HIDDEN HERETICS: Jewish Doubt in the Digital Age
Monday, November 16, 12:00pm

$8 member / $10 non-member
Click HERE to register

What would you do if you questioned your religious faith, but revealing your doubts would cause you to lose your family and the only way of life you had ever known? In her new book, Prof. Fader tells the fascinating, often heart-wrenching stories of married ultra-Orthodox Jewish men and women in 21st century New York who lead “double lives” in order to protect those they love. While they no longer believe fully, these hidden heretics continue to live in their families and religious communities, even as they surreptitiously break Jewish commandments and explore forbidden secular worlds in person and online. Ayala Fader is professor of anthropology at Fordham University.

Michael J. FoxMichael J Fox cultural arts event
NO TIME LIKE THE FUTURE: An Optimist Considers Mortality
Thursday, November 19, 8:00pm

$36 for virtual ticket and one copy of book (including shipping)
Click HERE to register

From renowned actor and advocate Michael J. Fox comes a moving account of resilience, hope, fear and mortality, and how these things resonate in our lives. The entire world knows Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, the teenage sidekick of Doc Brown in Back to the Future; as Alex P. Keaton in Family Ties; as Mike Flaherty in Spin City; and through numerous other movie roles and guest appearances on shows such as The Good Wife and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Diagnosed at age 29, Michael is equally engaged in Parkinson’s advocacy work, raising global awareness of the disease and helping find a cure through The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, the world’s leading non-profit funder of PD science. His two previous bestselling memoirs, Lucky Man and Always Looking Up, dealt with how he came to terms with the illness, all the while exhibiting his iconic optimism. His new memoir reassesses this outlook, as events in the past decade presented additional challenges.

Past Fall 2020 Speakers:

Prof. Stephen PekarStephen Pekar CULTURAL ARTS EVENTS
Monday, September 14, 7:30pm

Nearly two years ago, the UN International Panel on Climate Change issued a stunning report stating that we have 12 years or less to avert far more serious climate disruption. Already we are seeing catastrophic fires in Australia and California and extreme storms and droughts around the world. Climate scientist Prof. Stephen Pekar will explain the science, the dramatic steps needed to address climate change fast enough, and steps all of us can take today as individuals.

Jodi Picoult   Jodi Picoult cultural arts speaker - atlanta jcc book festival
THE BOOK OF TWO WAYS: A Novel – In conversation with Judy Blume
Wednesday, September 23, 8:00pm

From the bestselling author of Small Great Things and A Spark of Light comes a riveting novel about the choices that alter the course of our lives. Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-four novels, as well as two young adults novels with her daughter Samantha van Leer. She will speak in conversation with Judy Blume, a New York Times Bestselling Author and Owner of Books & Books at The Studios of Key West.

Dr. Abigail GewirtzDr. Abigail Gewirtz _UofM_Credit_ Erica Loeks
WHEN THE WORLD FEELS LIKE A SCARY PLACE: Essential Conversations for Anxious Parents and Worried Kids
Thursday, September 24, 7:30pm

Child psychologist Abigail Gewirtz will discuss how to help your child deal with the worries, stress, and other negative emotions caused by real problems, from the pandemic to active shooter drills to climate change. Talking and listening are essential for nurturing resilient, confident, and compassionate children. In her new book, When the World Feels Like a Scary Place, Dr. Gewirtz provides tips about how to stay calm in an anxious world; how parents can read the signs of anxiety in their children; and how parents can make sure that their own anxiety doesn’t color the conversation. Talking with children will help you manage your anxieties too, offering a path of wholeness and security for everyone in the family. Click here to purchase Dr. Gewirtz’s book.

Photo Credits: Erica Loeks, Remy Kirsch, Beowulf Sheehan

Books may be purchased online at Amazon, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, or at your local bookstore.

Deepak Chopra  deepak-chopra speaker cultural arts atlanta jcc book festival
TOTAL MEDITATION: Practices In Living the Awakened Life
Wednesday, September 30, 8:00pm

For the last thirty years, Deepak Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution in the West. His new book Total Meditation offers a complete exploration and reinterpretation of the physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual benefits that this practice can bring. Join New York Times bestselling author Deepak Chopra as he guides you on how to wake up to new levels of awareness that will ultimately cultivate a clear vision, heal suffering in your mind and body, and help recover who you really are.

James Coll
THE USE OF FORCE AND THE POLICE: Understanding the Use of Force through the Constitution and Legal Framework
Monday, October 5, 12:00pm

A retired NYPD detective, James Coll, is currently an adjunct professor of American and Constitutional history at Hofstra University and Nassau Community College. Coll will discuss the legal framework relating to police use of force and how the Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution on this important issue. As a police officer, James had a long history of saving lives, including plucking a woman out of the East River, rappelling down the side of a skyscraper to help workers when a 17th-floor scaffolding gave way, talking distraught people out of jumping off bridges, and rescuing people in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

Colin Quinn  Colin Quinn Cultural arts speaker atlanta jcc book festival
OVERSTATED: A Coast-to-Coast Roast of the 50 States
Thursday, October 8, 8:00pm

In Colin Quinn’s new book, the popular comedian, SNL alum, social commentator, and star of the shows Red State Blue State and Unconstitutional tackles the condition of our union today. Running state-by-state, from Connecticut to Hawaii, Quinn calls us out and identifies the hypocrisies inherent in what we claim to believe and what we actually do. Colin Quinn is a stand-up comedian, writer, and performer whose 30-year broadcast career has included stints on Saturday Night Live as the “Weekend Update” anchor, appearances on every cable comedy showcase and network talk show you can think of, including his own eponymous late-night show.

Adam KirschKirsch Adam Photographer Credit Photograph by Remy Kirsch
THE BLESSING AND THE CURSE: The Jewish People and Their Books in the Twentieth Century
Monday, October 12, 12:00pm

From the vast emigration of Jews out of Eastern Europe to the Holocaust to the creation of Israel, the 20th century transformed Jewish life. In his new book, Adam Kirsch explores the response of Jews to these profound changes, as seen in their literature and memoirs. From Franz Kafka to Philip Roth, Primo Levi to Yehuda Amichai and Tony Kushner, Kirsch argues that during this transformative period, literature offered Jews a new way to think about what it means to be Jewish in the modern world. Adam Kirsch is the author of several books, has taught at Columbia University, and writes for The New Yorker and Tablet.

Steve Madden  Steve Madden - cultural arts speaker atlanta jcc book festival
THE COBBLER: How I Disrupted an Industry, Fell from Grace, and Came Back Stronger Than Ever
Thursday, October 15, 8:00pm

Everyone knows Steve Madden’s name and his shoes, but few are familiar with his story. Over the past thirty years Steve Madden has taken his eponymous shoe company from the fledgling start-up he founded with a mere $1,100 to a global, multi-billion-dollar brand. But Madden’s mistakes, from his battle with addiction to the financial shortcuts that landed him in prison, are as important to his story as his most iconic shoes. In this raw, intimate, and ultimately inspiring book, Madden holds nothing back as he shares what it took to get here and the lessons he’s learned along the way.

Jo Ivester
Jo Ivester HeadshotONCE A GIRL, ALWAYS A BOY: A Family Memoir of a Transgender Journey
Thursday, October 22, 7:30pm

Jeremy Ivester is a transgender man. Thirty years ago, his parents welcomed him into the world as their daughter. As a child, he preferred the toys and games our society views as masculine. Once a Girl, Always a Boy is Jeremy’s journey from childhood through coming out as transgender and eventually emerging as an advocate for the transgender community. This is not only Jeremy’s story but also that of his family, told from multiple perspectives―his own viewpoint and those of his siblings and of his parents. This is a story of acceptance in a world not quite ready to accept.

Click here for Virtual Fall Cultural Arts 2020 Classes


For more information, please contact Peggy Kurtz at [email protected] or Karen Strauss at [email protected].



Below are highlights from some of our past series.