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to sept. 20
The District of Columbia Jewish Community Center’s Hyman S. and Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival kicks off with an ode to city streets reflected in readings of the likes of Philip Roth, Frank Rich, and Grace Paley, among others. One presumes that Saul Bellow’s Augie March will make an appearance, as will—let’s hope—Portnoy’s cock. Especially since the festival’s city streets stretch well beyond the District’s. This probably means the inevitable sepia memories of stickball in New York and shuffleboard in Miami. The festival will also feature Peter Beinart (pictured) talking about terrorism, Madeleine “Oh-My-God-I’m-a-Jew” Albright on God and politics, and the usual tales of interfaith marriages, gay Jews, and Nazis. If that doesn’t tempt you, funnyman Harry Shearer closes the fest by reading from his new book, Not Enough Indians: A Novel, about a depressed town pretending to be a Native American enclave so it can build a casino. Hey, at least it’s not Billy Crystal waxing about the Yankees. The DCJCC is also holding a writing contest about “your familiar streets.” Here’s mine: Walking by the center’s rubbery Jersey barriers and wondering if they’re there because someone’s planning to blow up the building. If the DCJCC knows about this, why isn’t it telling anyone? Worry is then eased by splashing my unsuspecting girlfriend with water from the center’s burbling fountain. The festival starts Sept. 10; call (202) 777-3250 or visit dcjcc.org for more information. (Jason Cherkis)