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A show by Israeli artists Goldie and Moshe Monzon, a conversation with former prosecutor (turned murder-mystery novelist) Marcia Clark, "A Night Out With [humorist] Dan Zevin," a holiday gift shop featuring jewelry, scarves, pottery, and more, plus a panel discussion on "fictionalizing" the Holocaust with native Memphians (and authors) Daniel Friedman and Anna Olswanger participating: They all add up to a first — the first annual Jewish Literary and Cultural Arts Festival at the Memphis Jewish Community Center, which runs throughout October and November.

The subject of the festival's kickoff event on Thursday, October 3rd, is, appropriately enough, footwear. That's when the MJCC will host a chat — and kosher luncheon — with Rachelle Bergstein, author of Women From the Ankle Down: The Story of Shoes and How They Define Us, and Jane Weitzman, whose book, Art & Sole, features fantasy shoes from the Stuart Weitzman collection.

Whose idea was it to launch such a festival?

The "vision" came from the MJCC's new executive director, Larry Skolnick, and according to Amy Israel, the center's arts and Judaic enrichment director, the idea was "to build a cultural arts department that enhances the MJCC experience for all Memphis community members. By highlighting Jewish authors and the Jewish arts experience we're offering our members and the greater Memphis community an opportunity to learn, grow, and celebrate our culture."

One of the key words above: "all." Israel wants all Memphians to know they're invited, and you don't have to be an MJCC member to attend any of the festival events. But she's recommending you get your tickets now.

"We have had a great response," she says. "Everyone is excited to see the new energy at the MJCC, and the festival is one piece of the whole picture. This is a great beginning to an ongoing annual event!"

Jewish Literary and Cultural Arts Festival at the Memphis Jewish Community Center (6560 Poplar), October 3rd-November 19th. For more information, event dates, ticket prices, and reservations, go to jccmemphis.org/culture.

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