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Image of Suzanne Spaak. Courtesy of Yad Vasehm.
Image of Suzanne Spaak. Courtesy of Yad Vasehm.

Two different authors will discuss their new books at two different events in Forest Hills over the next few days.

Jeremy Dauber will lecture and then sign copies of “Jewish Humor: A Serious History” at the Forest Hills Jewish Center, 106-06 Queens Blvd., on Sunday, Nov. 5, at 2 p.m. Anne Nelson will chat about “Suzanne’s Children: A Daring Rescue in Nazi Paris” at the Central Queens Y, 67-09 108th St., on Monday, Nov. 6, at 1:30 p.m.

Dauber is a Professor of Yiddish Language, Literature and Culture at Columbia University. He grew up in an Orthodox Jewish community in New Jersey and graduated summa cum laude from Harvard before attending Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. His new book traces the origins of Jewish comedy and its development all the way from the Bible to the Twitter age.

Dauber explores what he calls the “seven strands of Jewish comedy,” including the satirical, the witty, and the vulgar. He also shows how the genre has been affected by persecution, cultural assimilation, religious revival, diaspora and Zionism. Readers will learn about rabbi jokes, Borscht Belt routines, the Marx Brothers, Mel Brooks, Seinfeld, Larry David and of course, Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song.” They will also learn that making jokes is serious business.

An $18 donation is suggested in advance, but organizers will request $23 at the door.

Nelson also has ties to the Ivy League institution in upper Manhattan. She teaches at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. She’s also a playwright and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Her new book tells the story of Suzanne Spaak, a Belgian Catholic who helped save dozens of Jewish children during World War II.

Spaak was born into a wealthy banking family in 1904 and she married a member of Belgium’s leading political family. (Her brother-in-law was the foreign minister.) Then in Paris in the late 1930s, she befriended a Jewish woman who had fled persecution in Poland. The Nazis occupied France soon thereafter, and Spaak, who had two children at the time, joined the Resistance (aka the underground National Movement Against Racism).

Using her personal fortune and calling on her connections, she organized high society women, a group called the “Lucy Ring,” to rescue 163 Jewish children who were about to be deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp. However, the Nazis caught her in 1943. They imprisoned her, tortured her and then executed her on Aug. 12, 1944, just 13 days before the Allied Forces liberated France.

For this presentation, organizers request that attendees offer an $8 donation.

Jeremy Dauber

Jeremy Dauber.


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