Welcome to the inaugural season of Literatour Berks! The Literatour Berks Committee is pleased to present 18 amazing authors in 16 exciting programs from October 2019 through May 2020. Literatour is a new community-wide celebration presented by Jewish Federation of Reading/Berks in partnership with Exeter Community Library and Sinking Spring Public Library. 

        As coordinator for this brand-new community program, I am honored to work on Literatour Berks with our devoted committee members Nancy Russo, Mallory C. Hoffman, Lorraine Storms, Andi Franklin, John S. Nelka, and Federation Development Director Richard Nassau. We have worked hard to develop and create this program and can’t wait to share it with you!

        Literatour Berks would not be possible without numerous people and organizations. First and foremost, recognition must go to the Jewish Federation of Reading/Berks and its leadership, including William Franklin and the board. Special thanks to our Patrons, whose generosity and support are a testament to our amazing community. We couldn’t produce such an extensive new program without our financial and in-kind Sponsors. Covering a broad range of companies and organizations from throughout Berks County, their support is greatly appreciated. And much gratitude goes to our incredible volunteers who help to assure that every aspect of every program runs smoothly.

        I invite you to join us at our inaugural Literatour Berks season as we celebrate and enjoy amazing authors, talents, characters and stories!  With appreciation,

Amanda J. Hornberger, Coordinator, Literatour Berks

Monday, October 7, 2019 at 7 p.m. Exeter Community Library
E.R. Ramzipoor
The Ventriloquists

Brussels, 1943. Twelve-year-old street orphan Helene survives by living as a boy and selling copies of the country’s most popular newspaper, Le Soir, now turned into Nazi propaganda. Helene’s entire world changes when she befriends a rogue journalist, Marc Aubrion, who draws her into a secret network publishing dissident underground newspapers.

Presented in partnership with the LGBT Center of Greater Reading.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019 at 7 p.m.
Location Provided Upon Registration
Women’s Philanthropy Program
Angela Himsel
A River Could be a Tree

The seventh of eleven children, Angela grew up in southern Indiana in an apocalyptic, dooms-day Christian faith. Himsel’s memoir follows her journey attempting to understand the church’s strict tenets and time spent in Israel during college. Instead of strengthening her Christian faith, her time in Israel made her question Christianity itself. She ultimately converted to Judaism and lives in New York City with her family.

A program of Women’s Philanthropy of Jewish Federation of Reading/Berks.

This event has a suggested donation to attend

Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
Wachovia Theatre, Albright College
40th Annual Leo Camp Memorial Lecture
Thomas Wolf
The Nightingale's Sonata

Spanning generations, from the shores of the Black Sea to the glittering concert halls of New York, The Nightingale's Sonata is a richly woven tapestry centered around violin virtuoso Lea Luboshutz.  Like many poor Jews, music offered an escape from the prejudices that dominated society in the last years of the Russian Empire. Woven throughout this luminous odyssey is the story is César Franck’s “Sonata for Violin and Piano," a work championed by Lea, one of the first-ever internationally recognized female violinists.   This multi-media presentation includes musicians from the Curtis Institute playing César Franck’s “Sonata for Violin and Piano”. 

Presented in partnership with the Camp family and Albright College.


Monday, December 2, 2019 at 7 p.m.
Exeter Community Library

Tiffany Shlain

The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week Internet pioneer and filmmaker Tiffany Shlain takes us on an entertaining journey into a strategy for living in our 24/7 world: she and her family call it “Technology Shabbat”, where they turn off all screens for 24 hours each week. Exploring and lifting up wisdom from Shabbat, Shlain offers lessons she has learned and provides a blueprint to do it yourself.


Wednesday, December 11, 2019 at 7 p.m
Location Provided Upon Registration

Dawn Raffel
The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies 

What kind of doctor puts his patients on display? This is the spellbinding tale of a mysterious Coney Island doctor who revolutionized neonatal care more than one hundred years ago and saved some seven thousand babies. Dr. Martin Couney's story is a kaleidoscopic ride through the intersection of ebullient entrepreneurship, enlightened pediatric care, and the wild culture of world's fairs at the beginning of the American Century.

A program of Maimonides Society of Jewish Federation of Reading/Berks.

This event has a suggested donation to attend

Sunday, December 15, 2019 at 4 p.m.
Exeter Community Library

Joni Klein-Higger and Barbara Sharf
Barnyard Bubbe’s Hanukkah 

Neigh! Oink! Bah! Whimsical farm animals leave presents for Bubbe during Hanukkah. What will Bubbe do with these thoughtful gifts?
Presented by PJ Library of Reading with support from the Sue B. Viener Memorial Fund of Jewish Federation of Reading/Berks.


Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 4 p.m. Exeter Community Library
PJ Our Way Program
Erica Perl
All Three Stooges 

Spoiler alert: This book is not about the Three Stooges. It's about Noah and Dash, two seventh graders who are best friends and comedy junkies. That is, they were best friends, until Dash's father died suddenly and Dash shut Noah out. Which Noah deserved, according to Noa, the girl who, annoyingly, shares both his name and his bar mitzvah day.

Presented by PJ Our Way of Reading with support from the Sue B. Viener Memorial Fund of Jewish Federation of Reading/Berks.


Monday, January 27, 2020 at 7 p.m.
Exeter Community Library
Barbara J. Ostfeld
Catbird: The Ballad of Barbi Prim 

Meet an insightful 8-year-old who has already taken a few steps toward becoming a pioneer—but also a shadow of her quirky self. Although she's corroded—sometimes literally— by a toxic but familiar social atmosphere, her love of singing propels her to become the first ordained woman cantor in 3,000 years of Jewish history. Barbara Ostfeld joyously redefines the meaning of her nickname and shows us that we are all brave pioneers—at becoming our true selves.


Monday, February 3, 2020 at 7 p.m.
Exeter Community Library
Saul Austerlitz
Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show that Defined a Television Era 


A nostalgic, fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the blockbuster success of NBC’s Friends, including brand-new interviews with the series creators, published for the 25th anniversary of the show’s premiere.

Sunday, February 9, 2020 at 4 p.m. at JCC
Liel Leibovitz & Mark Oppenheimer
The Newish Jewish Encyclopedia: From Abraham to Zabar’s and Everything in Between 

Deeply knowing, highly entertaining, and just a little bit irreverent, this unputdownable encyclopedia of all things Jewish and Jew-ish covers culture, religion, history, habits, language, and more. Includes hundreds of photos, charts, infographics, and illustrations. It’s a lot.


Sunday, March 1
9 a.m. Registration
10 a.m. Speaker
DoubleTree by Hilton Reading
Jamie Bernstein
Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein 

The oldest daughter of revered composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein offers a rare look at her father on the centennial of his birth in a deeply intimate and broadly evocative memoir. An intoxicating tale, Famous Father Girl is an intimate meditation on a complex and sometimes troubled man, the family he raised, and the music he composed that became the soundtrack to their entwined lives. Deeply moving and often hilarious, Bernstein’s beautifully written memoir is a great American story about one of the greatest Americans of the modern age.


 Cost to attend this community event is $36 and includes brunch

Monday, March 2 at 7 p.m. Sinking Spring Public Library
Jenna Blum
The Lost Family 

The New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us creates a vivid portrait of marriage, family, and the haunting grief of World War II in this emotionally charged, beautifully rendered story that spans a generation, from the 1960s to the 1980s.


Thursday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. Albright College
16th Annual Richard J. Yashek Memorial Lecture
Michael Dobbs
The Unwanted: America, Auschwitz and a Village Caught in Between 

The powerfully told story of a group of German Jews desperately seeking American visas to escape Nazi Germany, and an illuminating account of America's response to the refugee crisis of the 1930's and 40's. An intimate account of a small village on the edge of the Black Forest whose Jewish families desperately pursued American visas to flee the Nazis. 

Presented in partnership with the Yashek family and Albright College.



Monday, April 20, 2020 at 7 p.m. Alvernia University
Ariel Burger
Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom 

Elie Wiesel taught at Boston University for nearly four decades, and with this book, Ariel Burger—devoted protégé, apprentice, and friend—takes us into the sacred space of Wiesel’s classroom. There, Wiesel challenged his students to explore moral complexity and to resist the dangerous lure of absolutes. In bringing together never-before-recounted moments between Wiesel and his students, Witness serves as a moral education in and of itself—a primer on educating against indifference, on the urgency of memory and individual responsibility, and on the role of literature, music, and art in making the world a more compassionate place. 

Presented in partnership with Alvernia University.


Monday, May 4, 2020 at 7 p.m. Sinking Spring Public Library
Elyssa Friedland
The Floating Feldmans 

Sink or swim. Or at least that’s what Annette Feldman tells herself when she books a cruise for her entire family. Between the troublesome family secrets, old sibling rivalries, and her two teenage grandkids, Annette’s birthday vacation is looking more and more like the perfect storm. Adrift together on the open seas, the Feldmans will each face the truths they’ve been ignoring–and learn that the people they once thought most likely to sink them are actually the ones who help them stay afloat.

Monday, June 15, 2020 at 7 p.m. Jewish Cultural Center
Joy Ladin
The Soul of the Stranger: Reading God and Torah from a Transgender Perspective 

Reading some of the best-known Torah stories through the lens of transgender experience, Joy Ladin explores fundamental questions about how religious texts, traditions, and the understanding of God can be enriched by transgender perspectives, and how the Torah and trans lives can illuminate one another. Drawing on her own experience and lifelong reading practice, Ladin shows how the Torah, a collection of ancient texts that assume human beings are either male or female, speaks both to practical transgender concerns, such as marginalization, and to the challenges of living without a body or social role that renders one intelligible to others—challenges that can help us understand a God who defies all human categories.

Presented in partnership with the LGBT Center of Greater Reading.


Event Locations

Jewish Cultural Center

1100 Berkshire Blvd. Suite 125

Wyomissing, PA 19610

Exeter Community Library

4569 Preswick Dr.

Reading, PA 19606

Sinking Spring Public Library

3940 Penn Ave.

Reading, PA 19608

Albright College, Wachovia Theatre

13th and Bern Streets

Reading, PA 19604

Alvernia University, McGlinn Conference Center

460 St. Bernadine St.

Reading, PA 19607

DoubleTree by Hilton Reading

701 Penn Street

Reading, PA 19601


Books will be available for purchase and signing at each author’s event in collaboration with Reads & Company Book Shop, Phoenixville, PA.

For program inquires contact Literatour Berks Coordinator Amanda Hornberger at AmandaH@jfreading.org .

For sponsorship inquiries contact Director of Development, Richard Nassau at 610-921-0624 or email RichardN@jfreading.org