The Lessans Family Literary Series

2018-2019 Literary Series

All year long, we will bring you the best and brightest authors and artists from around the country for special events!

Rebecca Erbelding – Rescue Board: The Untold Story of America’s Efforts to Save the Jews of Europe Sunday, January 27th - 7:00 PM
Lillian Li, Number One Chinese Restaurant Tuesday, February 5th - 7:00 PM
Ariel Burger – Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom Thursday, February 21st - 7:00 PM
Idra Novey – Those Who Knew Thursday, March 7th - 7:00 PM
Yvette Corporon – Something Beautiful Happened Thursday, May 2nd - 7:00 PM

International Holocaust Remembrance Day with Rebecca Erbelding
Rescue Board: The Untold Story of America’s Efforts to Save the Jews of Europe

America has long been criticized for refusing to give harbor to the Jews of Europe as Hitler and the Nazis closed in. Now a lauded Holocaust historian tells the extraordinary story of the War Refugee Board, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s little-known effort late in the war to save the Jews who remained.

In January 1944, a young Treasury lawyer named John Pehle accompanied his boss to a meeting with the president. For more than a decade, the Jews of Germany had sought refuge in the United States and had been stymied by Congress’s harsh immigration policy. Now the State Department was refusing to authorize relief funds that Pehle wanted to use to help Jews escape Nazi territory. At the meeting, Pehle made his best case–and prevailed. Within days, FDR created the War Refugee Board, empowering it to rescue the victims of Nazi persecution, and put John Pehle in charge.

Two types of tickets available:
$15 Ticket Only
$42 Ticket & Book

The Beijing Duck House in Rockville, Maryland, is not only a beloved go-to setting for hunger pangs and celebrations; it is its own world, inhabited by waiters and kitchen staff who have been fighting, loving, and aging within its walls for decades. When disaster strikes, this working family’s controlled chaos is set loose, forcing each character to confront the conflicts that fast-paced restaurant life has kept at bay.

Owner Jimmy Han hopes to leave his late father’s homespun establishment for a fancier one. Jimmy’s older brother, Johnny, and Johnny’s daughter, Annie, ache to return to a time before a father’s absence and a teenager’s silence pushed them apart. Nan and Ah-Jack, longtime Duck House employees, are tempted to turn their thirty-year friendship into something else, even as Nan’s son, Pat, struggles to stay out of trouble. And when Pat and Annie, caught in a mix of youthful lust and boredom, find themselves in a dangerous game that implicates them in the Duck House tragedy, their families must decide how much they are willing to sacrifice to help their children.

Generous in spirit, unaffected in its intelligence, multi-voiced, poignant, and darkly funny, Number One Chinese Restaurant looks beyond red tablecloths and silkscreen murals to share an unforgettable story about youth and aging, parents and children, and all the ways that our families destroy us while also keeping us grounded and alive.

Two types of tickets are available:
$15 Ticket

Presented in partnership with Friends of Rockville Memorial Library.

Inside Professor Wiesel’s Classroom with Ariel Burger
Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom

In the vein of Tuesdays with Morrie, a devoted protégé and friend of one of the world’s great thinkers takes us into the sacred space of the classroom, showing Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel not only as an extraordinary human being, but as a master teacher.

The world remembers Elie Wiesel—Nobel laureate, activist, and author of more than forty books, including Oprah’s Book Club selection Night—as a great humanist. He passed away in July 2016.

Ariel Burger first met Elie Wiesel at age fifteen. They studied together and taught together. Witness chronicles the intimate conversations between these two men over decades, as Burger sought counsel on matters of intellect, spirituality, and faith, while navigating his own personal journey from boyhood to manhood, from student and assistant to rabbi and, in time, teacher.

Two types of tickets are available:
$15 Ticket Only
$40 Ticket & Book

 

Idra Novey – Those Who Knew

Thursday, March 7th
7:00 PM

Purchase Tickets

Celebrate International Women’s Day with Idra Novey
Those Who Knew

From the award-winning author of Ways to Disappear, a taut, timely novel about what a powerful politician thinks he can get away with and the group of misfits who finally bring him down.

On an unnamed island country ten years after the collapse of a U.S.-supported regime, Lena suspects the powerful senator she was involved with back in her student activist days is taking advantage of a young woman who’s been introducing him at rallies. When the young woman ends up dead, Lena revisits her own fraught history with the senator and the violent incident that ended their relationship.

Two types of tickets will be available:
$15 Ticket Only
$40 Ticket & Book

A Special Yom HaShoah Program with Yvette Corporon
Something Beautiful Happened: A Story of Survival and Courage in the Face of Evil

Yvette Manessis Corporon grew up listening to her grandmother’s stories about how the people of the small Greek island Erikousa hid a Jewish family—a tailor named Savvas and his daughters—from the Nazis during World War II. Nearly 2,000 Jews from that area died in the concentration camps, but even though everyone on Erikousa knew Savvas and his family were hiding on the island, no one ever gave them up, and the family survived the war.

Years later, Yvette couldn’t get the story of the Jewish tailor out of her head. She decided to track down the man’s descendants—and eventually found them in Israel. Their tearful reunion was proof to her that evil doesn’t always win. But just days after she made the connection, her cousin’s child was gunned down in a parking lot in Kansas, a victim of a Neo-Nazi out to inflict as much harm as he could. Despite her best hopes, she was forced to confront the fact that seventy years after the Nazis were defeated, remainders of their hateful legacy still linger today.

Two types of tickets available:
$15 Ticket Only
$32 Ticket & Book