Classi Conversations Amazing Author / Book Series

Classi Conversations in partnership with Beth Tikvah Synagogue present: Genevieve Graham on her book “Letters Across The Sea”
August 11, 2021

Inspired by a little-known chapter of World War II history, a young Protestant girl and her Jewish neighbour are caught up in the terrible wave of hate sweeping the globe on the eve of war in this powerful love story that’s perfect for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
 

AUTHOR – Genevieve Graham is the #1 bestselling author of The Forgotten Home Child, Letters Across the Sea, Tides of Honour, Promises to Keep, Come from Away, and At the Mountain’s Edge. She is passionate about breathing life back into Canadian history through tales of love and adventure.

PRESENTER –

Classi Conversations in partnership with Beth Tikvah Synagogue present: Gayle Kerzman with Rachel Beanland on her book “Florence Adler Swims Forever”
July 28, 2021

Over the course of one summer that begins with a shocking tragedy, three generations of the Adler family grapple with heartbreak, romance, and the weight of family secrets.
 

AUTHOR – Rachel Beanland is a writer of uncommon wit and wisdom, with a sharp and empathetic eye for character. She’ll win you over in the most old fashioned of ways: She simply tells a hell of a story.” 

PRESENTER – Gayle Kerzman

Classi Conversations in partnership with Beth Tikvah Synagogue present: Jonathan Kaufman talking to Rabbi Louis J. Sachs on his new book “The Last Kings of Shanghai”
July 21, 2021

Free Event
An epic, multigenerational saga of two rival Jewish families, the Sassoons and the Khadoories, who flourished in Shanghai and Hong Kong as twentieth-century China surged into the modern era.
A fascinating and easy read about the intrigues, passion, and remarkable history of how these families ignited an economic boom and opened China to the world, but remained blind to the country’s deep inequality and to the political turmoil on their doorstep.
In spite of their rivalry they combined their efforts to save hundreds of Jews in Shanghai & Lisbon during WWII.

AUTHOR – Jonathan Kaufman is Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, editor and author. He is currently Executive Editor for Company News at Bloomberg News. Projects he has overseen at Bloomberg have won numerous awards including finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, several George Polk Awards, an Overseas Press Club Award, a Gerald Loeb Award and Education Writers Association Grand Prize. 

PRESENTER – Rabbi Louis J. Sachs is the Associate Rabbi of Beth Tikvah. Also, he currently serves as both the Vice-President of the Ontario Rabbinical Assembly and chair of the Willowdale Interfaith Coalition.

Classi Conversations: Edward Rutherfurd talks about his new book “China”
June 21, 2021

This seventy-year family saga starts in the nineteenth century, during the reign of Britain’s Queen Victoria. Through the human stories of British, American and Chinese families, the novel tells the sweeping and dramatic tale of how the West met the exotic Empire of China and humiliated her. The history it relates led directly to the tragic events of the twentieth century and the attitude of China towards the rest of the world today.

AUTHOR Edward Rutherfurd is best known as a writer of epic historical novels which span long periods of history but are set in particular places.

PRESENTER – 

Kate Vigurs in Conversation with Helen Fry on her new book “Mission France”
May 16, 2021

Mission France: The True History of the Women of SOE

Formed in 1940, Special Operations Executive was to coordinate Resistance work overseas. Kate Vigurs interweaves for the first time the stories of all 39 female agents. Tracing their journeys from early recruitment to work undertaken in the field, to evasion from, or capture by, the Gestapo, Vigurs shows just how greatly missions varied.

Among them was Noor Inayat Khan, best known for her heroism as a clandestine Allied wireless radio operative in occupied France during World War II.

AUTHOR Dr Kate Vigurs is a professional freelance historian whose PhD at the University of Leeds was entitled ‘The women agents of the Special Operations Executive F section – wartime realities and post war representations’.  Her extensive research included interviewing agents, historians, actresses and script writers, as well as visiting France several times and undertaking an extensive tour of memorials to the women of F section including Ravensbrück and Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camps.

PRESENTER – Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

Emily Urquhart in Conversation with Carol Bishop Gwyn on “The Age of Creativity”
May 6, 2021

When Emily and her family celebrated the eightieth birthday of her father, the illustrious artist Tony Urquhart, she found it remarkable that, although his pace had slowed, he was continuing his daily art practice of drawing, painting, and constructing large-scale sculptures, and was even innovating his style. It has long been thought that artistic output declines in old age. Many well-known visual artists completed their best work in the last decade of their lives, Turner, Monet, and Cézanne among them.

With the curiosity of a journalist, Urquhart began an investigation into late-stage creativity, asking: Is it possible that our best work is ahead of us? Is there an expiry date on creativity? Do we ever really know when we’ve done anything for the last time?

AUTHOR – Emily Urquhart has a PhD in Folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her first book, Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family, and the Mystery of Our Hidden Genes, was a Maclean’s bestseller and a Globe and Mail Best Book of 2015. She teaches creative nonfiction at Wilfrid Laurier.

PRESENTER – Carol Bishop Gwyn is a former arts producer at CBC Radio and journalist. Her first biography, The Pursuit of Perfection: A Life of Celia Franca, was a finalist for the 2012 Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction and the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction.

Lesley Wyle in Conversation with Helen Fry on “Becoming Lesley”
April 25, 2021

At the age of 100, Lesley Wyle published her amazing memoirs.
She grew up in Vienna and after making it to the UK, worked for the BBC.
At the end of the war she worked for the Americans in Germany before coming to Canada and becoming an editor.
A heartwarming and true story of resilience.
 

PRESENTER – Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

An Evening with Mystery Thriller Writer Robert Rotenberg
April 15 2021

Robert Rotenberg is the criminal lawyer and novelist who’s made his fictional Toronto detective, Ari Greene, one of the top homicide sleuths in the world of contemporary mysteries.

Downfall” is his latest crime thriller. A page turner filled with references to places in the city you know well!  In “Downfall” he also explores the disparity between rich and poor and the homelessness crisis.

AUTHOR – Robert Rotenberg is the author of several bestselling novels, including Old City Hall, The Guilty Plea, Stray Bullets, Stranglehold, and Heart of the City. He also writes for television and teaches writing.

“ …being a writer makes me a better lawyer and being a lawyer makes me a better writer. Both are about the endlessly fascinating journey that we go through in our lives. That’s the story that I always strive to tell.

David O’Keefe In Conversation with Helen Fry on his new book “One Day in August”
March 21, 2021

The groundbreaking, thrilling, ultra-secret story behind one of WWII’s most enduring mysteries, which fundamentally changes our understanding of this sorrowful event in Canada’s past.

Classi Lectures provides a wonderful range of virtual talks and events on all periods and aspects of history. As a published historian specialising in the period after 1945, I cannot recommend them highly enough to anyone interested in the subject.” Trevor Barnes, Author

AUTHOR – David O’Keefe is an award-winning historian, documentarian and professor at Marianopolis College in Westmount, Quebec. He worked as a Signals Intelligence research historian for the Directorate of History and Heritage (DND). In 2002 he joined forces with Emmy award-winner producer Wayne Abbott; among the television documentaries they have made is Dieppe Uncovered, which aired simultaneously on History Television in Canada and Yesterday TV in the U.K. on 70th anniversary of the raid, to major acclaim.

PRESENTER – Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

Anne Sebba with Helen Fry on her book “Jennie Churchill – Winton’s American Mother”
March 14, 2021

Part of the Churchill The Man Series. In 1874 Brooklyn born Jennie Jerome moved into the British aristocracy to become Lady Randolph Churchill. At a time when women had few freedoms, she became a cornerstone of high society and a political behind-the-scenes dynamo. With unprecedented access to private correspondence Anne will tell the stories of Jennie – a woman known for her sexual freedoms and love life.

AUTHOR – Anne Sebba is an award-winning British biographer, writer, lecturer and journalist. She is the author of nine non-fiction books for adults, two biographies for children and several introductions to reprinted classics.

PRESENTER – Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

The Kennedys in the World: How Jack, Bobby, and Ted Remade America’s Empire
by Lawrence J. Haas
March 1, 2021

The Kennedys in the World tells a new, rich, fascinating, and consequential story about Jack, Bobby, and Ted Kennedy. From an early age the brothers developed a deep understanding of the different peoples, cultures, and ideologies around the world; a keen appreciation for the challenges that such differences created for the United States; and a strong desire to reshape America’s response to them.

AUTHOR/PRESENTER – Lawrence J. Haas is an award-winning journalist and former senior White House official, is senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, a columnist on foreign affairs, and a TV and radio commentator. 

Head of the Mossad: In Pursuit of a Safe and Secure Israel
February 21, 2021
Free event sponsored by CL & Beth Tikvah

In this exciting and engaging book, Shavit combines memoir with sober reflection to reveal what happened during the seven years he led what is widely recognized today as one of the most powerful and proficient intelligence agencies in the world.

Shavit offers a broad sweep of the integral importance of intelligence in these historical settings and the role that intelligence can and should play in Israel’s future against Islamist terrorism and Iran’s eschatological vision.

AUTHOR – Shabtai Shavit was the seventh Director of the Mossad, and served from 1989-1996. He was born in pre-State Israel in 1939, and grew up in Nesher.

PRESENTER – Rabbi Louis J. Sachs is the Associate Rabbi of Beth Tikvah. Also, he currently serves as both the Vice-President of the Ontario Rabbinical Assembly and chair of the Willowdale Interfaith Coalition.

Carol Bishop-Gwyn on her new book “Art and Rivalry”
February 1, 2021

“She painted as if with pure light, radiant colours making quotidian kitchen scenes come alive with sublimated drama. He painted like clockwork, each stroke precise and measured with exquisite care, leaving no angle unchecked and no subtlety of tone unattended. Some would say Mary Pratt was fire and Christopher, ice. And yet Newfoundland’s Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera (or Jackson Pollack and Lee Krasner…) presented their marriage as a portrait of harmony and balance. But balance off the canvas rarely makes great art, and the Pratts’ art was spectacular.”

AUTHOR – Carol Bishop Gwynn is a former arts producer at CBC Radio and journalist, published in The BeaverToronto LifeChatelaineMaclean’s and The Globe and Mail.  Summering in Newfoundland for over a decade, she developed a deep knowledge of the province’s visual arts scene, along with an excellent general knowledge of Canadian visual arts. Her first biography, The Pursuit of Perfection: A Life of Celia Franca, was a finalist for the 2012 Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction and the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction and named a Globe 100 best book of the year.

That Woman

Author, Anne Sebba, in conversation with Helen Fry – January 24, 2021​

AUTHOR – Anne Sebba is an award-winning British biographer, writer, lecturer and journalist. She is the author of nine non-fiction books for adults, two biographies for children and several introductions to reprinted classics.

PRESENTER – Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

Eva Stachniak in Conversation with Pauline Pankowski

The Chosen Maiden – January 11, 2021
The Ballets Russes – January 18, 2021

AUTHOR – Eva Stachniak is an award-winning and internationally bestselling author of five novels. The Winter Palace was a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year and made The Washington Post’s most notable fiction list in 2012. She holds a PhD in literature from McGill University. Born and raised in Poland, she moved to Canada in 1981, and lives in Toronto. Her latest novel, The Chosen Maiden, was published in Canada, US, Germany, Poland, and Italy.

Red Sea Spies​
December 27, 2020

Raffi Berg, author of Red Sea Spies, talks about the true story of a daring Mossad operation to smuggle Ethiopian Jews from Sudan using a fake holiday village as cover.

AUTHOR/PRESENTER – Raffi Berg is the Middle East editor of the BBC News website. A journalist for nearly 30 years, he has a particular interest in events in Israel, from where he has reported extensively in times of war and peace. He graduated in Modern and Medieval History from the London School of Economics, and was a student of Jewish and Israel studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Raffi is based in London, where he lives with his family.

PRESENTER- Rabbi Louis J. Sachs is the Associate Rabbi of Beth Tikvah. Also, he currently serves as both the Vice-President of the Ontario Rabbinical Assembly and chair of the Willowdale Interfaith Coalition.

War: How Conflict Shaped Us
December 14, 2020​

Drawing on lessons from wars throughout the past, from classical history to the present day, Margaret MacMillan reveals the many faces of war—the way it has determined our past, our future, our views of the world, and our very conception of ourselves.

AUTHOR – Margaret MacMillan CC CH is a Canadian historian and professor at the University of Oxford. She is former provost of Trinity College, Toronto and professor of history at the University of Toronto and previously at Ryerson University. Macmillan is an expert on history and international relations.

PRESENTER – Iain Scott is perhaps one of Canada’s best-known and most popular opera educator and tour leaders. He now regularly teaches courses at the University of Toronto, York University, Ryerson University, George Brown College, Jewish Community Centres, etc. … and increasingly in private homes.

Book Review Series with Cathy Tile​

A Woman Is No Man – by Etaf Tum – November 23, 2020
The Secrets We Kept – by Lara Prescott – January 4, 2021
A Long Petal By The Sea – by Isabel Allende – February 22, 2021
Go, Went, Gone – Jenny Erpenbeck – April 12, 2021
Apeirogon – by Colum McCann – May 31, 2021​

PRESENTER – Cathy Tile came to reviewing books via a short teaching career followed by researching and writing features for CBC – Morningside – in the 70’s.
She was asked by the Toronto Board of Education to develop a course based on a feature called “It’s Okay to Stay Home.” She started Living Literature Seminars in 1980 and has given hundreds of book reviews across the city.

Helen Fry in Conversation with Robin Lustig

M19 – November 8, 2020
The Walls Have Ears – November 29, 2020
The London Cage – December 13, 2020

AUTHOR – Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written over 25 books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain, and intelligence, espionage and prisoners of war. 

PRESENTER – Robin Lustig is a British journalist and radio broadcaster, who has presented programmes for the BBC World Service and BBC Radio 4.