Michael Chabon is tonight’s big draw for the 2012 Hyman S. and Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival, though his latest novel, Telegraph Avenue, doesn’t foreground faith the way its predecessor, 2007’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, did. No matter. The strength of the fest is its breadth—its programmers have freely mixed up themes and authors, making it a series that is of Judaism if not always about it. Ariel Sabar, who appears at the fest’s local author fair on Oct. 22, recently wrote about the “Jesus’ wife” text for Smithsonian magazine, and featured authors have addressed topics as far flung as politics, psychology, and shoes. Even so, the fest also includes transgender Jewish scholar Joy Ladin; Anouk Markovits and Eishes Chayil, who’ve written fiction set in Hasidic communities; Kabbalah scholar Peter Cole; and William Mann, biographer of Barbra Streisand, Brooklyn orthodox girl done good.

The Jewish Literary Festival runs Oct. 14-24 at the Washington, D.C. Jewish Community Center, 1529 16th St. NW. See a complete schedule at washingtondcjcc.org. (202) 518-9400.