(901) 761-0810

MJCC Jewish Literary and Cultural Arts Festival


Questions about the Festival? Please contact:

Marcy Stagner
Program Director for Cultural Arts & Adult Services

(901) 259-9230


Jeremy Weiser
Chief Operating Officer
(901) 259-9235


Siona Benjamin | Artist
Sunday, October 7–Tuesday, October 9

Originally from Bombay, Siona now lives in the US. Her work reflects her background of being brought up Jewish in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim India.

In her paintings, she combines the imagery of her past with the role she plays in America today, making a mosaic inspired by both Indian miniature paintings and Sephardic icons. Siona has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for a project titled, “Faces: Weaving Indian Jewish Narratives.” Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Jewish Week in NYC and NJ, The Boston Globe, Art in America, Art New England, Art and Antiques and Moment Magazine.

Schedule of events:

In the Gallery: October 3–31
Opening Reception: 
Sunday, October 7, from 3:30–5:30pm

Lunch and Learn: “Faces: Weaving India and Jewish Narratives”
(Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship Project)
Monday, October 8, 12:30–1:30pm
$15 Non-Member / $10 Member

Midrash and Megillah Painting Workshop
Monday, October 8, from 5:30–7:30pm
$15 Non-Member / $10 Member • Class #5270

“Blue Like Me: The Art of Siona Benjamin” Film Screening and Q&A
Tuesday, October 9, from 7:00pm–8:30pm


Nancy Shapiro | Speaker
Thursday, October 18 • 11:30am
*Celebrating Empowered Women’s Luncheon*
$45 Non-Member / $36 Member
$148 Non-Member / $118 Member  GOLD ALBUM SPONSOR

Born in Memphis and now living in Nashville, Nancy Shapiro is the former Senior Vice President at The Recording Academy, the world’s most preeminent music organization best known for celebrating artistic and technical musical excellence through the GRAMMY Awards. She was the highest ranking woman at The Recording Academy. In her enormous role, Nancy oversaw Membership and all of The Recording Academy Chapters, which served over 22,000 members (musicians, producers, engineers, and other music professionals). She also oversaw Corporate Governance, GRAMMY U, the Producers and Engineers Wing, and GRAMMY Professional Development.

Nancy will be interviewed by Anne Pitts, Executive Director of the Levitt Shell.


Marilyn Simon Rothstein | Author
Sunday, December 16 • 6:00pm
*Kosher Deli Night*
$30 Non-Members / $25 Members

Join us for a deliciously fun night with Kosher deli! Marilyn is the author of Lift and Separate, winner of the Star Award presented by the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association for Outstanding Debut. She grew up in New York City, earned a degree in journalism from New York University, began her writing career at Seventeen Magazine, married a man she met in a elevator, and owned an advertising agency for more than twenty-five years. Marilyn received an MA in liberal studies from Wesleyan University and an MA in Judaic studies from the University of Connecticut. Husbands And Other Sharp Objects is a heartwarming, hilarious novel for anyone who ever had a family.



The Civil Rights Movement & Jewish Activism  | Panel discussion
Monday, January 21 • 7:00pm
Free and Open to All

Rabbi Micah Greenstein has served Temple Israel of Memphis for 26 years. In 2012 and again in 2013, he was named as one of “America’s Top 50 Rabbis” by Newsweek/The Daily Beast. Rabbi Greenstein served as a two-time President of the Memphis Ministers Association and as a member of the Executive Committee of the National Civil Rights Museum. He continues to serve on the Museum’s Board of Directors. He is past-president of the Southwest Association of Reform Rabbis and served on the board of the NAACP.

Daphene R. McFerren is the executive director of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis. The Hooks Institute programs promote social justice and the removal of disparities that limit the potential of marginalized groups. It’s mission of teaching, studying, and promoting civil rights and social change furthers the legacy of its namesake, the late civil rights activist, Benjamin L. Hooks.

Rabbi Ben Kamin is a clergyman, teacher, counselor, and the award-winning author of eleven books. He is a scholar on the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and has led congregations in the US and Canada. He appears frequently on radio and television and serves on several national boards dealing with community affairs and multicultural relations.

Jocie Wurzburg was born in 1940 and is a fifth-generation Memphian. Her life was turned upside down with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. She left “Jewish civil service” to get involved in race relations work. That led to drafting civil rights legislation, law school, gubernatorial and national (and even a Presidential) appointments, awards for activism, and a divorce. She is Memphis’ first professional mediator.

Commissioner Van Turner is currently serving the public as a Shelby County Commissioner for District 12. He participates and has served on the board of directors of several legal and professional organizations. In addition, Mr. Turner has been active in a number of other professional, civic and community organizations, including the Economic Club of Memphis, Board of Directors for the Memphis Branch of the NAACP, Leadership Academy and Leadership Memphis, among others.

In partnership with

Steven Weisman | Author
Sunday, March 17 • 2:00pm
Free and Open to All

Steven R. Weisman, vice president for publications and communications at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), previously served as a correspondent, editor, and editorial board member at The New York Times. His book The Great Tax Wars: How the Income Tax Transformed America, received the Sidney Hillman Award in 2003.

In partnership with


Izzy Ezagui | Author (EVENT CANCELLED)

Izzy Ezagui, a decorated squad commander in the Israel Defense Forces, is the only soldier in the world who lost an arm in combat and returned to the battlefield. In 2011, former President Shimon Peres awarded him one of Israel’s highest military honors. While he continues to serve in an elite unit in the reserves, Izzy delivers inspirational talks across the United States and internationally. He has appeared on the Huffington Post, Al Jazeera America, and Fox News. The Algemeiner chose Izzy as one of 100 people positively influencing Jewish life. He also raises millions of dollars for hospitals, rehabilitation programs, and other charities, such as the Birthright Foundation. He has worked with amputee organization, schools, colleges, universities, hedge funds, and corporate events for companies such as Nike and Apple.

Thanks to all our sponsors

Passport to Discovery Patrons
Scott and Suzanne Baum
Pace and Aileen Cooper
Sandy Goldstein
Mike and Sharon Goldstein
Mimi Grossman
Tami Eiseman
Pat and Janis Finan
Donny and Shelly Levy
Lester and Rosalyn Lit
Jerome and Evelyn Makowsky
Mitch and Jeri Moskovitz
Marilyn Notowich
Eileen Posner
Alex and Debra Saharovich
Elkan and Laurie Scheidt
Ken and Jill Steinberg
Morris and Wendy Thomas
Craig and Cathy Weiss
           Literary Series Committee
Mimi Grossman, Co-Chair
Jill Notowich, Co-Chair

Lisa Frisch
Sandy Goldstein
Susan Labovitz
Jackie Mandell
Jeri Moskovitz
Dina Romeo
Elissa Taub
Joy Wilk
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