For local author, a love affair with Cultural Arts & Book Fair

Martinis with Marti, October 2009

Martinis with Marti opens fair, Martha Moody’s last as chair 

By Marshall Weiss, The Dayton Jewish Observer

It’s not often that a Jewish book fair has a bestselling author as its chairperson.

Martha Moody

This year, local novelist Martha Moody will complete her third and final season as chair of the DJCC’s Jewish Cultural Arts & Book Festival.
In August, just as she and her committee were finalizing plans for the festival, Penguin published her third novel, Sometimes Mine.

Marti’s fans will have the opportunity to hear her talk about Sometimes Mine and the publishing world in general during a program billed as Martinis With Marti, the kickoff to the Cultural Arts & Book Festival, on Oct. 29.

“There really will be martinis,” Marti says with a chuckle. “Sarah Leventhal (a committee member) is working on getting kosher vermouth.”

Sometimes Mine, Marti says, is about a woman from Marietta, Ohio in the middle of a 12-year-long affair.

“She’s divorced, a female cardiologist, and she just has a very overwhelmed life. Her two hours of peace each week are with this basketball coach from West Virginia.”

When the coach is diagnosed with cancer, Marti focuses on the changes in the heart doctor’s relationship with him and his family.

“Ultimately, it’s about people rising to the occasion and behaving well,” she says.

And she’s happy with the novel. “I wrote the initial drafts of it several years ago and it probably only took me about 18 months,” she says. “It was by far one of the quickest ones.”

About a year and a half ago, she took six months to revise it again.

During her time leading the DJCC’s Jewish Book Fair, she’s helped revise and expand it to include the cultural arts component.

This year’s cultural lineup includes comedian Cory Kahaney on Nov. 5, a family concert with Rabbi Joe Black on Nov. 9, and a concert featuring works of the New Jewish School performed by the Vogler Quartet from Berlin on Nov. 18.

Marti has also shaped this festival based on her experiences and contacts she’s made as a writer.

Her friend, Esther Hertzog from Tel Aviv, will present two programs as part of the festival.

On Nov. 2, Hertzog will discuss the book of essays she’s edited, Life, Death and Sacrifice: Women and Family in the Holocaust. On Nov. 17, she’ll talk about Anuar, the leadership group of Israeli and Arab women, which she co-founded.

Marti will host Hertzog at her home during her stay in Dayton.

“Esther was born to Holocaust survivors on a boat to Palestine,” Marti says. The book she’s edited, Marti adds, gives “a sense of the personal cost to women, some of the decisions they had to make and how they lived with it afterward.”

Hertzog is a social anthropologist; she heads the social science department at Beit Berl College. Her research focuses on gender issues.

Marti met Hertzog during one of her three trips to teach Arab-Israeli students in Deir-al-Assad, an Arab village in Israel’s north.

On her first visit to the village, in December 2007, Marti taught creative writing to college students and children in a private science- and math-oriented high school.

For the last two summers, she’s worked with youths ages 7-12, helping them become more comfortable speaking English.

“It’s a town that’s really interested in educating their kids,” Marti says of Deir-al-Assad. “So there is a lot of community support. We teach in the morning in this school building and we had 104 students last year, 115 this summer, and it’s quite a madhouse. But they actually get something out of it. They seem very excited. They want us to come back.”

Martinis with Marti, an evening with author Martha Moody, kicks off the DJCC Jewish Cultural Arts & Book Festival, Thursday, Oct. 29, 7 p.m. at the Boonshoft CJCE. Co-sponsored by Temple Beth Or. Free, reservations requested to Karen Steiger, 853-0372.

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