"A man should live, if only to satisfy his curiosity." The Yiddish proverb, tacked to the wall of my study, came to mind when curiosity -- and the assignment to entertain my visiting young grandsons -- led me to the Nextbook festival. It's a personal embarrassment, or the fault of the organization's anti-promotional attitude, that I had never heard of Nextbook, or as its logo has it: nextbook>.
Nextbook, an organization devoted to Jewish literature, culture and ideas (www.nextbook.org) came to L.A. last weekend, staging a full day festival at UCLA's MacGowan and Freud theaters called "Acting Jewish: Film, TV, Comedy, Music," the first of what it hopes to be an annual event.
It all began with a Purim spiel. Seven years ago, the much-loved New Yorker magazine writer Adam Gopnik was living in a kind of secular New York Jewish limbo.
Just four years ago, Nextbook got its start as an organization committed to promoting public library programs dedicated to Jewish topics. In short order, the ever-evolving nonprofit has conquered a swath of territory in the contested realm of Jewish arts and ideas, steadily expanding while maintaining its focus on Jewish cultural and intellectual life.
Julie Sandorf recalls her immigrant grandparents telling her that they learned to be Americans at the public library, where they improved their English and learned more about American culture.