It’s been more than three years since Ed Berlin, former owner of the Ivy Bookshop in Mount Washington, Emily Miller, the Ivy’s event coordinator, Lauren Esakoff, Jmore vice president and director of sales, and I sat down at a table at Café Hon in Hampden to discuss Berlin’s idea for a Jewish literary festival. 

As the owner of one of Baltimore’s only independent bookstores, Berlin interacted with many of the community’s most avid readers on a regular basis. He knew that many of them were Jewish and believed that a Jewish literary festival would be well-received. Berlin wanted Jmore to be a lead sponsor, a role that we enthusiastically embraced. 

At that first meeting, we discussed what us journalists call the “Five W’s” — Who? What? Where? When? Why? Looking back, it seems laughable that we debated whether to hold a full-day or half-day event. Little did we know then that the fledgling festival we fantasized about would grow to be 10-day community-wide happening, including 13 (mostly free) programs and 12 host organizations, or that 1,500 individuals would attend the festival.

Baltimore’s inaugural Festival of Jewish Literature was a tour de force, not just because of its vast offerings and large attendance. Its tremendous success was a reflection of the strength, unity, diversity and power of Baltimore’s Jewish community. With representation and participation from people across the religious spectrum, the ambitious endeavor proved beyond a doubt that together, we can accomplish great things!

The second annual Festival of Jewish Literature will take place from Nov. 7 to Nov. 17. So far, we have 23 host sponsors and 22 programs. Will we top 1,500 attendees in 2019? We can’t imagine why we wouldn’t. —S.E.

For a complete schedule of programs, host organizations and sponsors, visit


Nov. 7: Award-winning author Mary Morris reflects on her acclaimed novel “Gateway to the Moon.”

Nov. 10: Local author and journalist Arthur J. Magida discusses the
creative process. 

Nov. 12: Jmore contributor and author of “On Middle Ground: A History of the Jews of Baltimore” Deborah R. Weiner shares the platform with Hasia R. Diner, (“Roads Taken: The Great Jewish Migrations to the New World and the Peddlers Who Forged the Way”) 

Nov. 12: Jane Isay, author of “Unconditional Love: A Guide to Navigating the Joys and Challenges of Being a Grandparent Today,” shares wisdom on grandparenting in the 21st century.

Nov. 14: Jmore contributor, author, journalist and screenwriter Rafael Alvarez discusses the meaning and importance of community.

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