In this issue:











♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥




Alice McDermott • Absolution • Fiction

Tim O’Brien • America Fantastica: A Novel • Fiction

Talia Carner • The Boy with the Star Tattoo • Historical Fiction

Jennet Conant • Fierce Ambition • Biography

Liza Mundy • The Sisterhood • Nonfiction

David Rosenfelt • ’Twas the Bite Before Christmas • Legal Thriller

Moderator • Amy Silverman

Executive Producer of The Show on NPR

The 2024 Book & Author Events:

Friday, February 2 ~ Luncheon • Authors • Boutiques

Thursday, February 1 ~ Bookmark Donor Cocktail Reception

with the Authors

Westin Kierland Resort • Scottsdale

Watch for the Invitation in December!


Please contact the Event Chairs:

Ileen Herberg, Joellyn Pollock and Marcy Strauss


Our Authors:

Top row, left to right:

Liza Mundy, Tim O'Brien, Alice McDermott

Bottom row, left to right:

Talia Carner, Jennet Conant, David Rosenfelt


Scroll down for 3 of our authors' bios;

the others will be in our December issue.

Presidents' Message

A Refuge Then, a Refuge Now

We are living in a very challenging moment for the Jewish people. While BNC is a nonsectarian organization, when something happens to a large part of our membership, as a community we grieve together.

In our column today we would like to focus on students, especially Jewish students at universities throughout our country.

A recent headline in the Washington Post read: War in Mideast inflames college campuses and raises fears of antisemitism. The article reported:

"Someone scrawled 'Free Palestine' on the exterior of a Jewish fraternity house at Georgia Tech over the weekend, next to a large image of a menorah. A Stanford University instructor reportedly asked Jewish and Israeli students to stand in the corner of a classroom. A Cornell University professor declared at a rally Sunday that, while he abhors violence, he felt 'exhilarated' after Hamas militants from Gaza attacked Israel.

These and other incidents have rattled Jewish communities on campuses across America as they mourn victims of the Oct. 7 massacres and kidnappings...."

“Jewish students are fearful and isolated,” said Melanie Schwartz, 20, a junior at Cornell.”


A headline in The Tablet read: The writing is on the wall for Jewish students.

"Today, to be a Jewish student is to be alone. In the wake of Hamas’ devastating attack on Israel in which it brutally massacred over 1,000 Israeli civilians, American universities have proven to be treacherous environments for Jews."

Brandeis President Ronald Liebowitz takes the lead as one of the few university presidents to speak out as he quickly and clearly denounced Hamas' attack, as “terrorism” in a campus-wide missive sent around 6 p.m. the same day.

Brandeis University, the school you as members support, was founded in 1948 as a refuge for Jewish students and other minority students when they weren’t allowed to attend other universities and continues to be that refuge today. Be proud, as we are, of your association with an institution that has always and forever prioritized social justice as their mission.

Below you will find the full message from President Leibowitz to the Brandeis community.

Ellen and Leith

Dear Brandeis Community,


This morning we awoke to news of a deadly terrorist attack on Israel. Many of us in the Brandeis community have close family, friends, colleagues, and former classmates and students in the region, and many have spent a frightening day trying to reach those who live there. My thoughts are with all of those who are suffering in the wake of this outburst of violence. In terms of our current students, two are studying in Israel this semester; we have made contact with both of them, and will support them. We are also communicating with faculty in the region, and monitoring the situation to help community members who may need assistance.

We condemn in the strongest way terrorism such as we have seen today perpetrated against innocent civilians; it has always been our belief at Brandeis that engaging and wrestling with divisive issues from a place of compassion is how we begin to heal our broken world. 

We have many faculty and staff in a number of academic departments with deep knowledge of the region and the conflict, and I encourage you to pursue learning in this area from those individuals. At the moment, many members of our community are hurting and worried. As has been true at other difficult times, I know you will support each other, and I urge anyone in need of additional support to make use of the campus resources listed below.



Upcoming Events

It's Game Time!

Brandeis Canasta Tournament!

Sunday, December 3, 2023

2:00 - 5:00 pm

Congregation Beth Israel

10460 N. 56th Street, Scottsdale, AZ 85253

Open to the Public

Men & Women ~ Sign up with a partner or individually

Prizes will be awarded to the top teams at the end of the tournament

$25 per person

Registration closes November 15

Register Here

Tournament rules will be emailed prior to game day

Please bring your own cards and a tray ~ No card shufflers permitted

Teams will stay together for all rounds of play


Contact Ken Walter • lw3410@yahoo.com


Rich Kleiner • Jeff Lerner • Ken Walter

Event Chairs

University on Wheels 2024

Please join us for breakfast as Brandeis University presents

a timely discussion of

Why Is Government So Dysfunctional?

Featured speaker:

Dr. Zachary Albert, Professor of Politics

Friday, January 5, 2024

9:30 am -12:00 pm

Embassy Suites by Hilton

Phoenix Biltmore

2630 E. Camelback Road • Phoenix, AZ 85016

Zachary Albert is a Professor of Politics at Brandeis University. He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and his BA from Fairfield University.

Professor Albert's research and teaching focus on political campaigns and public policymaking, especially through the lens of political parties in an era of increased partisan polarization.

He is currently working on two book projects: the first examines the impact of partisan polarization on policy research efforts by interest groups and think tanks, while the second investigates the positive and negative aspects of "small donor democracy". His work has been published in journals such as American Politics Research, Political Research Quarterly, Party Politics, and Interest Groups & Advocacy.

Registration Information will be available soon

Event Chairs: Gale Stam and Barbara Stern


♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Table Captains

at Book & Author

You can be a Table Captain!

It's not too early to be thinking about being a Table Captain at Book & Author

What does it mean to be a Table Captain?

  • Table Captains gather their friends together to form one or more tables of 10 at the event and inform the committee chairs below
  • One table can have two co-Captains
  • Your friends register and pay for the luncheon on their own, and enter your name in the box that asks about seating
  • Table Captains will have a ribbon attached to their name badge, allowing them to enter the ballroom early, in order to put down place cards for each person at their table(s), if they choose to do so.

That's it!

If you want to be a Table Captain or would like more information,

contact Patti Grossman, Terriann Kleiner or Ruth Lerner, Committee Chairs


Book & Author Bios

Liza Mundy

    Liza Mundy is an award-winning journalist and the New York Times bestselling author of five books including her latest work, The Sisterhood: The Secret History of Women at the CIA. It was named by Kirkus Review as one of the most anticipated nonfiction titles of fall 2023. 

   The Sisterhood recounts the true story of the women espionage officers—tough, brilliant, resilient—who helped build the world’s foremost spy agency. Her previous book, the bestseller Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II (2017), tells another true story of women’s contributions to American intelligence, recounting the lives and legacy of more than 10,000 women recruited to break Axis codes during World War II. 

   A former staff writer for the Washington Post, Mundy is also the New York Times bestselling author of Michelle: A Biography, a 2008 biography of former First Lady Michelle Obama; and The Richer Sex, which explored the forces behind women’s rising economic power. She has appeared on television and radio shows including The Colbert Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, MSNBC, CNN, C-Span, Weekend Edition, and All Things Considered.

   Mundy has an AB from Princeton University and an MA in English Literature from the University of Virginia. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, Bill Nye.

Tim O'Brien

  Tim O’Brien received the National Book Award in Fiction for his novel Going After Cacciato. In 2005, his book The Things They Carried was named by the New York Times as one of the twenty-two best books of the last quarter century. Earlier, it received the Chicago Tribune Heartland Award in fiction and was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The French edition of The Things They Carried received France’s Prix de Meilleur Livre Étranger. The title story from The Things They Carried was selected by John Updike for The Best American Short Stories of the Century.

     In the Lake of the Woods, published in 1994, was chosen by Time magazine as the best novel of that year. The book also received the James Fenimore Cooper Prize from the Society of American Historians and was selected as one of the ten best books of the year by the New York Times.

    In 2010, O’Brien received the Katherine Anne Porter Award, presented by the American Academy of Arts and Letters for a distinguished body of work. He also received the Mark Twain Award in literature and lifetime achievement awards from the Dayton Peace Prize Foundation and the Pritzker Military Library. He has been elected to both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

     America Fantastica, his latest novel, was published in October 2023. According to Entertainment Weekly, it is “a new unflinching portrait of Americana that reads like a roadmap to our modern age.”

   His books have sold more than seven million copies and have been translated into numerous languages.   

Jennet Conant

  Jennet Conant is an American nonfiction author and journalist, who has written seven books about World War II, four of which have appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list. About her subjects, Jennet says “I’m never one of those writers who are interested in doing the 100th biography of Roosevelt. I always look for a story that hasn’t been told.”

   Her current biography, Fierce Ambition, focuses on both the professional and personal life of Marguerite Higgins, a “nervy and relentless” war correspondent. The first woman to win the Pulitzer for war reporting, she went on to live a glamorous, and swashbuckling life.

   Growing up as a granddaughter of James Bryant Conant, a noted chemist, President of Harvard University and an administrator of the Manhattan Project, she wrote “Los Alamos was the chief morality tale of my childhood” and while living in Japan, she was acutely aware “that I was living in a country my grandfather had once tried to blow to smithereens.” It also tore her family apart.

   With degrees in Political Theory from Bryn Mawr College, Philosophy from Haverford College, and a Master's degree in Journalism from Columbia University, she was awarded a John J. McCloy Fellowship to study politics in Germany.

   Jennet lives in New York City and in Sag Harbor, New York. She is married to the journalist Steve Kroft. They have one son.

Read about our other three authors and our moderator in the December bulletin.

Recent Events

The Italian Feast was Splendido!

The event chairs: Brina Pepper, Ruth Lerner, Terriann Kleiner, Laurie Burns

Photo: Mike Lebovitz

Our Brandeis "Welcome Back Italian Feast” was enjoyed by all. Our sincere thanks to everyone who attended, all our wonderful volunteers and bakers, Lorenzo’s Kitchen and Jaime Seidenstecker, who provided the cocktails.

Parts of the centerpieces were nonperishable food items, which were donated to Jewish Family and Children's Service for their food pantry.


Laurie Burns, Terriann Kleiner, Ruth Lerner and Brina Pepper

Event Chairs

Photos: Jeff Lerner

Book & Author: The Author Reveal and Volunteer Sign-Up Meeting

Photos: Gale Gradus

Study Group News

Spotlight on Study Groups


This season of Brandeis Phoenix study groups is now in full swing.

There are still many study groups that have space available for more participants. We have highlighted a few of these groups below. For details and to sign up for available study groups, see the Study Group Guide and Registration links below and on our website.

Some of the groups that still have availability include:


Location: TBD

Starts: January 22

Mondays, 10:30 am - 12:00 pm

(January 22, January 29 & February 5)

Facilitator: Debbie Gordon


Location: TBD

Starts: October 16

Third Mondays, 1:00 - 3:00 pm (October - May)

Facilitators: Barbara Stern, Joyce Steinberg


Location: Zoom

Starts: November 14

Six Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:00 pm

(November 14 -December 19)

Facilitators: Nancy Siefer, Ellen Widoff


Location: First meeting n Zoom

Starts: October 19

Third Thursdays 10:00 am (October to May)

Facilitators: Linda Burech, Nancy Sacks, Gladys Simon


Location: Zoom

Starts: Late January

3 Sessions, Meeting days and times vary, (January - March)

Facilitator: Elaine Howard


Location: Various places around the Valley of the Sun.

Starts: TBD

Meeting day and times vary (October - April)

Facilitators: Harriet Schwartz, Sheila Landau, Sue Lawler


Location: 56th Street and Shea 

Wednesdays, 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm

(November - May)

Facilitators: Barbara Stern, Lin Katzenstein, Felice Zensius


Location: Unique Valley Neighborhoods

Third Saturdays, 9:00 am– 11:00 am

(October – April)

Facilitators: Carol Mangen, Diann Horne


Even a group that has reached its maximum participation may have openings from time to time - if you are interested in a particular group, contact the facilitator(s) to see if space is available. Very often there is! Look in the study guide for group details, which include contact information for the facilitators. A $5 guest fee will apply.

Registration Information:

If you have not registered, the link is HERE and also on our website

Screen-by-screen instructions are available here

If you have registered, click on the link in the confirmation email you received

 that says "Click here to edit your registration information"

If you have registered but cannot find your confirmation email,

 click this email and request a copy of your registration email.

Our chapter’s Study Groups are for the benefit and enjoyment of current BNC members.

Please be sure to join or renew your membership, so you will be able to register for study groups!

Please contact us if any questions, 

Marcia Langer and Harriet Schwartz


Study Group Vice Presidents

Men of Brandeis

Antique Vehicle Collection

Wednesday, November 8

10:00 am

On Wednesday, November 8, the Men of Brandeis will tour a collection of antique vehicle and other antique transportation

Items. The collection has been accumulated by Alan Travis and is housed privately in north Scottsdale.


Alan’s collection of 20 or so 1897-1915 vehicles got underway in about 1980. This is when we were entering and winning the Great Race with our 1905-1916 race cars. As he says, “I gained a lot of insight those years to start collecting and restoring competitive cars and motorcycles from that age.” He now has restored and toured every vehicle he has. He has several of the first and oldest vehicles in the world, including the oldest production vehicle in North America, the oldest motorcycle in North America, the oldest Bugatti Grand Prix in the world… and more.

Guests (men and women) are welcome for a $5.00 guest fee.

ALL participants must RSVP to the facilitator in advance in order to attend.

For additional information or to RSVP, contact the facilitator:

Leith Baletin • lbaletin@gmail.com


Study Groups have begun!

Here are two pictures from the first Bowling study group. Over 35 participants made new friends and had lots of fun! The second picture is of Michael Horn welcoming the group. There are still openings.

Photos: Ellen Widoff

Save the Date

  Canasta Tournament 🃏

Sunday, December 3 • 2:00 - 5:00 pm

Congregation Beth Israel

University on Wheels 🇺🇸

Friday, January 5, 2024 • 9:30 am - 12:00 pm

Embassy Suites by Hilton Phoenix Biltmore

♥ ♥ Book & Author 2024 ♥ ♥

Friday, February 2 • Luncheon ~ Authors ~ Boutiques

Thursday, February 1 • Bookmark Cocktail Reception and Donor Dinner with the Authors

Westin Kierland Resort

Let's Dance! 🕺🏻

Saturday, March 16 • 7:00 pm

  Spring Event/Installation

Wednesday, April 17

Community Outreach

Community Service is a fundamental part of the mission of BNC. Throughout the year, we collect items for various non-profits in the greater Phoenix area, and your support is much appreciated. 

Additionally, our Mitzvah Mavens Study Group provides participatory activities for our members to volunteer directly with specific agencies.

Brandeis has launched a new Global Service Initiative in honor of their 75th Anniversary. They hope to illustrate how community involvement makes a compelling change and a positive mark on the world. Each chapter is compiling a list of the volunteer hours and organizations to which their members contribute. Our chapter is always involved in community outreach and it’s so nice to be able to acknowledge that!

We have been receiving your volunteer information.

Please continue to let us know:

  • Where you volunteer
  • How often
  • The number of hours you put in

Please submit your volunteer activities to Wendy Cohen at wencohen@cox.net.

So many of you are true community advocates! We thank you all - you DO make a difference!

Ellen is still collecting pill bottles without labels. Safety caps only, please. We are also still collecting purses, bras, costume jewelry and the plastic bags that come with newspaper deliveries - they are woven into mats for the homeless.

For more information or collection addresses, please contact us.

Wendy Cohen and Ellen Kirschenbau


Knit A Mitzvah

Do you Knit? Do you Crochet? 

Help us make Scarves, Newborn Baby Caps,

Lap Blankets and Chemo Caps

We donate newborn baby caps and lap

blankets to Honor Health Medical

Center, scarves to Sojourner Center

and chemo caps to 

Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center.

For more information, please contact:

Ronee Siegel

ronees@aol.com 917-273-0393

Joan Davis

davis6j@gmail.com 602–499-8357


For more information, see our  website.

Mitzvah Mavens

Participants in this study group volunteer at a variety of Valley non-profit organizations. We meet at the specific locations of the organizations on various dates, lending helping hands as needed. If there are activities that can be done at home, participants will be notified.

Mitzvah Mavens Facilitators:

Patti Grossman psgrossman717@gmail.com

Ellen Kirschenbaum ellenk102@gmail.com

Ileen Herberg iherberg@aol.com

Nan Waldman nanlarry46@gmail.com

For more information, contact the Community Outreach Chairs:

Wendy Cohen and Ellen Kirschenbaum


Membership News

Membership Milestones

  • Congratulations to Renee and Norm Karson on the birth of their granddaughter, Eliyanah Izabella Finkelstein. Proud parents are Melissa and David Finkelstein.
  • Congratulations to Marcy Strauss on the birth of her grandson, Alon Bernard Strauss. Proud parents are Hanna and David Strauss.
  • Best wishes to Froma Goldberg for a speedy recovery
  • Best wishes to Arline Salbe for a speedy recovery
  • Best wishes to Andrew Tievsky for a speedy recovery
  • Our sincere condolences to the families of life members Shirley Goldstein, Roslyn Krantz and Shirley Langerman

We welcome our new members:

David Amster, Becki Chilcote-McGrath, Susan Connell, Mark Friedman, Meri Friedman, Ellen Gross, Shirley Grossman, Janet Jordan-Richmann, Carol Rose, Dottie Sefton, Diane Silver, Neil Trachtenberg

To report life-cycle events, please contact:

Marilyn Reinfeld • mkr1227@cox.net • 480-620-5601

Chapter Roster

To report a change in email address, phone number (cell or landline) or mailing address, please contact:

Carol Kadet • carolkadet@gmail.com 

She will update our membership roster and ensure that you receive Chapter mailings and information.

The mysteries of BNC-Phoenix revealed:

Did you join BNC-Phoenix since last April?

Are you interested in learning more about our study groups?

Wonder how all our wonderful programming comes together?

Wish to meet other new members as well as some of our past leadership?

Join us on Monday, November 13th for a NEW member only event. 

Need more information?

Contact Judy Levine: judithlevine43@yahoo.com

Judy Levine, Marcy Strauss and Iris Wigal

New Member Outreach Committee Chairs

Prospective Member Social on October 22

Photo: Gale Gradus

How to join or renew your membership

The Membership page of our website has a link to step-by-step instructions for joining online.

If you have questions about online payments for membership, please contact Irene Lubin at 480-948-3773.

Membership Vice Presidents 

Gale Gradus and Kathleen Witkin


Name Tags

Would you prefer not to wear the stick-on name tags used at Chapter functions?

We are offering personalized, magnetic BNC name tags for $15.00, including shipping. You can get your name tag by filling out the order form and mailing it to the listed address.

Order Form

Note: Replacement magnetic backs for existing name tags are available; contact the Chapter at 480-359-7262

Call for Nominations

The Nominating Committee is still accepting nominees for the Slate of Officers and Board Members for the 2024-2025 BNC Phoenix Chapter Board. The committee is open to suggestions regarding individuals, regardless of gender, who are interested in serving on the Board with Portfolio or assuming positions on the Executive Committee. Please comment on the qualifications of a candidate and include supporting data. One may self-nominate. The current Board list is here.

All names will be considered by the committee.

Thank you in advance for your participation.

Jan Lebovitz (janice.lebovitz@gmail.com) and Linda Ullman (linda@lindaullman.com)

Nominating Committee Chairs

The Current Campaign

The Legacy of Louis: Inspiring Inquiry

As the university nears its milestone 75th anniversary in 2023, the Brandeis National Committee's current campaign, The Legacy of Louis: Inspiring Inquiry, is halfway towards its goal, thanks to all of you.

This campaign will reinvigorate the Brandeis Library's mission to empower its community to become scholars, creators, and innovators through the creation of two interactive additions to the Library. The first will be the construction of a research archive of original letters, photographs, documents and family objects that shed light on the life and the lasting contributions of Justice Louis D. Brandeis. 

The second addition to the Brandeis Library will be the creation of a new Judaica reading room in the library. This space will provide the Brandeis community with a place to engage with Jewish texts outside of the typical classroom and religious environments. By presenting Jewish texts in conjunction with writings from cultural and religious traditions from around the world, the room will serve scholars and students alike. 

In 1948, the BNC (formerly BUNWC) was founded alongside the university to provide philanthropic support and now, nearly 75 years later, continues to support the mission and principles upon which Brandeis was founded.


To make a donation online using a credit card, go to giving.brandeis.edu/bnc

In order to include your online tributes in the bulletin, please email the details - 

Fund, Donor(s), Recipient(s) and Occasion only - to Beth Messer at bethmae721@gmail.com

This list is current as of the date of publication. We regret any errors or omissions.

For future corrections or inclusions, please notify Beth Messer.

Brandeis Happenings

A Support Network Like No Other

While technology continues to change, the Waltham Group has always prioritized tutoring students in the Waltham community.

For decades, the student-run Waltham Group has overseen community-service programs that assist others in myriad ways — and enrich volunteers’ lives.

By Kennedy Ryan

Generations of Brandeis students have discovered their passion for community service through the Waltham Group.

This network of student-run volunteer programs was founded in 1966 to help students make a difference in the world through community engagement. The group started with only 30 students, who paid $5 a semester to participate. It is now the largest student organization on campus, and its local reach has broadened to include regional and national efforts.

Students who volunteer work with every age group, from kindergarteners to elders. The issues they address range from homelessness, to health disparities, to gaps in educational preparedness. Volunteer opportunities may be short-term or long-term, and sometimes turn into mentorships that last a lifetime.

Since the Waltham Group was founded, more than 20,000 Brandeis students have served as volunteers, and the number of partnered programs has doubled each decade. Today, 75 student leaders manage 40 community partnerships involving 1,250 volunteers, who donate an average of 40,000 hours of service each year, making the Waltham Group one of the oldest and largest student-service organizations at a U.S university.

Mark Kaufman ’71 says the group gave him purpose during the Vietnam War years.

Full article

The 2023 Nobel Prize

The 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded

jointly to

Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman

for their discoveries concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the

development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19

The discoveries by the two Nobel Laureates were critical for developing effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 during the pandemic that began in early 2020. Through their groundbreaking findings, which have fundamentally changed our understanding of how mRNA interacts with our immune system, the laureates contributed to the unprecedented rate of vaccine development during one of the greatest threats to human health in modern times.

Full press release

Dr. Weissman is a Brandeis alum, and in 2021, he and Dr. Karikó were awarded Brandeis' Rosenstiel award.

Click here to see the article that was published by the Phoenix Chapter Bulletin at that time.

Did you miss one of Brandeis' virtual events and would like to access a recording of it?

Visit the on-demand Virtual Event Library.

General Chapter Information

Chapter Board Meetings

Board meetings are conducted via Zoom

Chapter members are welcome to attend all meetings,

which are generally held on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at 10:00 am

Our next meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 15, from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

RSVP: Email Corresponding Secretary Joyce Grant

at jhgrant35@gmail.com in order to receive the Zoom link

Chapter Presidents: Leith Baletin and Ellen Widoff

Board of Directors 2023-2024

Report a Change of Contact Information

Privacy Policy

Zoom Protocols

Mission Statement

Founded in 1948, Brandeis National Committee is dedicated to providing philanthropic support to Brandeis University, a distinguished liberal arts and research university founded by the American Jewish community. Its membership is connected to the University through fundraising and through activities that reflect the values on which the University was founded: academic excellence, social justice, nonsectarianism and service to the community.

Presidents: Ellen Widoff and Leith Baletin

Editor: Sara Leopold • Assistant Editor: Ronee Siegel



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