We invite the community to join with us in reading and discussing Moonglow by Michael Chabon and participating in the many events taking place in the Bay Area through June 2017. The Library's Drop-In Book Club discussions are led by Jim Van Buskirk. Library Director Howard Freedman leads the film discussions. Events will be listed here on an ongoing basis, so be sure to visit this page soon for new information!



When Is a Story True?

A reading and discussion featuring Joel ben Izzy and Andrew Ramer


Michael Chabon’s novel Moonglow presents as a memoir, but how much of the book is actually true? How true should it be? And even if an unknowable number of plot points is invented, is there a bigger truth to be told in this award-winning novel? Two Bay Area authors and storytellers will explore these and other questions in a program that will include readings from their new books.

Joel ben Izzy has told stories and led workshops in thirty-five countries, has produced six recorded collections of his stories, and works as a story consultant to organizations and individuals who seek to better the world. He is author of the memoir The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness, which is published in seventeen languages, and the middle-grade novel Dreidels on the Brain, a 2016 National Jewish Book Award finalist.

Andrew Ramer is an ordained maggid (sacred storyteller) and the author of numerous books and articles including Queering the Text: Biblical, Medieval, and Modern Jewish Stories. A liturgy writer, a number of his prayers and poems appear in the siddur of Congregation Sha'ar Zahav. His new book, Torah Told Different, expands on midrash (Jewish legends based on biblical text) and invents additional Jewish texts from which spring new midrash.


Why Jews Love the Moon

Presented by Rabbi Sydney Mintz


The Jewish connection to the moon is deep and longstanding. Modern Jews continue to be affected by moon rituals, the lunar-solar calendar, and blessings such as Kiddush Ha-levanah (Sanctification of the Moon). Rabbi Sydney Mintz will explore the ancient lunar-Jewish connection that began in the land of Israel and continues to the Bay Area.

Rabbi Sydney Mintz-cropped.jpg

Sydney Mintz is rabbi at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, where she has served since her ordination in 1997. She is a senior rabbinic fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, and serves on the national board of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, and as a rabbinic scholar for American Jewish World Service. She also is a member of the US State Department’s Working Group on Religion and Social Justice. 


Uncovering Family Secrets: Surprising Stories and Their Profound Impact

Panel discussion led by Jim Van Buskirk


The novel Moonglow is structured around the outpouring of untold family stories. Likewise, a fair number of people encounter stories that long went untold in their own families. What are these stories? Why were they withheld? How were they discovered? What have they meant to the people who discovered them?  Join panelists who learned a family secret that had a life-changing impact on how they saw themselves. There will also be time for audience members to share their own stories in this interactive evening.

Moderator Jim Van Buskirk is the Library’s Drop-In Book Club facilitator and possessor of his own family secret.



Hosted by Dan Schifrin

SUNDAY, MAY 21, 3 P.M.

Followed by a reception

 Award-winning author Michael Chabon will discuss his new novel, Moonglow, with local writer Dan Schifrin. Moonglow unfolds as the deathbed confession of the narrator’s grandfather, whose tongue has been loosened by painkillers and whose memory has been by stirred by the imminence of death. From the Jewish slums of prewar South Philadelphia to the American invasion of Germany to the heyday of the space program, the novel revisits an entire era through a single life and collapses a lifetime into a single week. A work of fictional autobiography,  Moonglow, above all, is about the destructive impact and the creative power of keeping secrets and telling lies.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon’s books include The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Wonder Boys, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, The Final Solution, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Maps & Legends, Gentlemen of the Road, and Telegraph Avenue.

 Dan Schifrin is a writer, teacher, and creativity consultant living in Berkeley. His essays and fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles TimesSan Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, em, Jet Fuel Review, Transfer, Sequestrum, and other publications.



DROP-IN BOOK CLUB: Moonglow by Michael Chabon

The novel, this year's One Bay One Book selection, unfolds as the final confession of the narrator's grandfather, whose tongue has been loosened by painkillers and whose memory has been stirred by the imminence of death.

DROP-IN BOOK CLUB: Where She Came From by Helen Epstein

A masterful work of family archaeology that chronicles the lives of the author's mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Epstein's quest for information began after the death of her mother, a Holocaust survivor, and the opening of Czechoslovakia to the West. 

FILM: The Flat

When Israeli filmmaker Arnon Goldfinger was sorting through the possessions of his recently deceased grandmother, he made the surprising and unsettling discovery of items indicating a relationship between his refugee grandparents and a prominent Nazi. Going back to their native Germany, he embarks on a journey that brings out powerful questions about the nature of memory. 2011, 97 minutes, in Hebrew, English, and German with subtitles.

DROP-IN BOOK CLUB: The Last Flight of Poxl West by Daniel Torday

Elijah Goldstein loves his uncle, Poxl West, who for fifty years has portrayed himself as a World War II hero, but who may not have been all that he claimed to be. Winner of the National Jewish Book Award for fiction, this coming-of-age story is a meditation on memory, aspiration, and truth.

FILM: Little White Lie


Filmmaker Lacy Schwartz grew up as Jewish and White in upstate New York, with her unusually dark complexion explained away as an inheritance from her Italian Jewish great-grandfather. After pushing for answers, she eventually learned that her biological father was a Black man with whom her mother had an affair. Through examining her family's secrets and the impact of uncovering them, Schwartz explores complex issues of identity. 2014, 66 minutes, in English.

Co-sponsored by Be'chol Lashon.

DROP-IN BOOK CLUB: When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa by Peter Godwin

As journalist Godwin records the collapse of his native Zimbabwe, he is confronted with his father's deathbed confession. The elder Godwin had always claimed to have been British, but he reveals himself to be a Polish Jew whose mother and sister were killed in Treblinka.

FILM: Everything is Illuminated

A very loose adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's debut novel, the quirky film follows an obsessive young American Jew as he travels to western Ukraine in search of the woman who saved his grandfather during the Holocaust. After his guides--an admirer of American pop culture and his anti-Semitic grandthar--take him on a winding journey in search of the mysterious town, what they eventually find transforms all of them. 2005, 106 minutes, in English, Russian, and Ukrainian with subtitles.





Tuesday, March 21
Beth Chaim Congregation, Danville

Wednesday, March 22, 7 p.m. Coastside Jewish Community, East Bay Chapter                                             
Click here for more information

Sunday, April 16, 12 p.m.
Congregation Shir Hadash, Los Gatos
Click here for more information

Monday, April 25, 7 p.m.
Congregation Sherith Israel, San Francisco
Click here for more information.

Tues., April 25, 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
Peninsula JCC, Foster City
Click here for more information

Wednesday, April 26, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, San Francisco Click here to RSVP

Thursday, April 27, 7-8:30 p.m.            Peninsula Temple Beth El, San Mateo       Click here for more information

Wednesday, May 10, 7-8:30 p.m. Jewish American Fiction Book Club, Fairfax Public Library
Click here for more information

Wednesday, June 21, 7:15-8:45 p.m.   Women of Rodef Sholem Book Club, Osher Marin JCC Library                     Click here to RSVP

Tuesday, July 11                                         Private book club, San Francisco


Michael Chabon at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco
Tuesday, November 29, 7 p.m.

Michael Chabon at Diesel, A Bookstore, Oakland
Wednesday, December 14, 7 p.m.

Michael Chabon at Bookshop Santa Cruz at Peace Church
Thursday, December 15, 7 p.m.

Michael Chabon at Rakestraw Books, Danville
Friday, December 16, 7 p.m.

Michael Chabon at Book Passage, Corte Madera
Saturday, December 17, 4 p.m. 

Sunday January 29
Moonglow Discussion at Jewbilee
Addison Penzak JCC, Los Gatos

Tuesday, January 31
Temple Beth El Book Group, Aptos

Thursday, February 9, 7:30 p.m.
Cong. Beth Jacob , Redwood City

Tuesday, February 13, 7 p.m.
Kehilla Synagogue, Oakland

Friday, February 17, after 6:30 p.m. services
Or Shalom Jewish Community, San Francisco