Reading Jewish Lives

Exploring the Jewish Experience Together

Jewish Lives is a prize-winning biography series dedicated to illuminating the range and depth of the Jewish experience from antiquity to the present. We will read four of these biographies as a community, engage in small group discussions, and enjoy live presentations by the authors. The Jewish Lives Series is published by Yale University Press and the Leon D. Black Foundation.

2017-2018 Books and Author Events

Please use this online form to indicate your interest in participating in Book Discussion Groups. We have a limited number of copies of books for sale online. You may purchase them here

Einstein: His Space and Times  
by Steven Gimbel

A revealing portrait of Albert Einstein, the world's first scientific "superstar."
Members of Park Avenue Synagogue will receive this first book as a gift from the Leon D. Black Foundation. For questions about receiving your book, please email 
View the Reading Guide for Einstein: His Space and Times. 

Opening Author Event: Steven Gimbel
Wed | Nov 15 | 6:00 pm

Steven Gimbel is the Edwin T. and Cynthia Shearer Johnson Chair for Distinguished Teaching in the Humanities as well as chair of the philosophy department at Gettysburg College.
We invite you to shop at the PAS Hanukkah Book & Gift Fair before the Author Event and to a Cocktail Party and Book Signing after the event.


Steven Spielberg: A Life in Films
by Molly Haskell

A film-centric portrait of the extraordinarily gifted movie director whose decades-long influence on American popular culture is unprecedented.

View the Reading Guide for Steven Spielberg: A Life in Films

Author Event: Molly Haskell
Tue | Jan 9 | 7:00 pm
Molly Haskell is a film critic and the author of five previous books, including From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies, and Love and Other Infectious Diseases. She writes and lectures widely on film. She lives in New York City.
Register now

Yitzhak Rabin: Soldier, Leader, Statesman

by Itamar Rabinovich

An insider's perspective on the life and influence of Israel's first native-born prime minister, his bold peace initiatives and his tragic assassination.

View the Reading Guide for Yitzak Rabin: Soldier, Leader, Statesman.  

Author Event: Itamar Rabinovich
Thu | Mar 15 | 7:00 pm
Itamar Rabinovich is president of The Israel Institute (Washington, DC, and Tel Aviv); Global Distinguished Professor, New York University; and Non-Resident Distinguished Fellow, Brookings Institution. He is a former president of Tel Aviv University and was Rabin’s ambassador in Washington and chief negotiator with Syria.
Register now.

Rabbi Akiva: Sage of the Talmud 
by Barry W. Holtz

A compelling and lucid account of the life and teachings of a founder of rabbinic Judaism and one of the most beloved heroes of Jewish history.

View the Reading Guide for Rabbi Akiva: Sage of the Talmud

Author Event: Barry W. Holtz
Tue | May 8 | 7:00 pm
Barry W. Holtz is Theodore and Florence Baumritter Professor of Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. His five previous books include Back to the Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts and Textual Knowledge: Teaching the Bible in Theory and in Practice, which received the National Jewish Book Award for education.
Register now

If you miss any of the author events, you can view the recordings online after the event.  

There will be a Jewish Lives reading group celebration on Shavuot 2018.

For more information about Jewish Lives and to purchase books, please visit
(The discount code for each book is the last name in capital letters of the subject of the biography.)