Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Jewish Book Council Network 2013

For the second year in a row, I’m thrilled to be on the author roster of the Jewish Book Council Network. The New York Times referred to the annual JBC Network Meet the Author event as “a combination of The Gong Show and speed-dating.” Or, as described by writer Jeffrey Goldberg (quoted in the article), “somewhere between JDate and a camel auction.”

Last year I got to talk about Batman. This year Superman. And as if on cue, upon arriving in New York City on 6/2/13 to give my two-minute pitch to a roomful of programming directors from 100 Jewish institutions across North America, I see and snap this:

The scene juxtaposes two American icons forged in the same decade: the Empire State Building (completed 1931) and the Man of Steel (conceived 1933, debuted 1938).

Here is the room in which the authors (numbering around 50) presented back-to-back, and some of the people to whom we presented:

I look forward to coming to as many of your communities as possible over the next year.

Here was my two-minute pitch:

During dangerous times, a baby boy is born. For his own good, his parents give him up, sending him off in a vessel. Another family finds him and raises him as their own, without knowing where he came from. Eventually, he learns his history…and his destiny…and becomes a savior.

Sound familiar?

Yes, Moses…but also Superman. As his planet is about to explode, his parents launch him to safety in a rocket. He lands on Earth an infant, a Kansas couple adopts him, and he grows up to be the world’s greatest superhero.

He was also the world’s first, created during the Depression by two Jewish teens, writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster. They were geeks before the word existed.

Was the Moses parallel intentional? Did Hitler himself call Superman a Jew and ban his comics from Nazi Germany? What is the Jewish connection to Superman’s Kryptonian name? And why did Shabbat prevent Joe from drawing Superman? No, not the obvious reason!

Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman answers these questions, debunks myths, and solves mysteries. It’s an all-ages book and the first standalone bio on the men of Cleveland behind the Man of Steel. It’s both inspirational and heartbreaking—even to people who couldn’t care less about superheroes. It reveals a discovery that made the front page of USA Today. It in part led to my TED talk. And it’s an Association of Jewish Libraries Notable Book of Jewish Content, the revised edition of which is out this year for the 75th anniversary of Superman.

I’ve been invited to speak to standing-room-only adult audiences at Jewish institutions nationwide, and I’m thrilled to be on the JBC Network for the second year in a row. Let’s celebrate this icon together, along with truth, justice, and the Jewish-American way.

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