The Main Event! A night of storytelling and reflections with Joel Chasnoff

By Carl Zebrowski

Joel Chasnoff has written or cowritten four best-selling books. More than 1,500 audiences in 10 countries have gathered to hear his partly serious, partly light take on Israel and American Jewish life. Yet, as he likes to say, his mother still dreams he’ll go to law school.

The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley is bringing Chasnoff to the JCC on on Thursday, April 4, for its Main Event: An evening of storytelling, reflections, and conversation about our magical relationship with Israel. 

Chasnoff will get into some of the subject matter of the book he coauthored with Benji Lovitt, “Israel 201: Your Next-Level Guide to the Magic, Mystery, and Chaos of Life in the Holy Land,” an informative, personal, and light-hearted guide to Israel directed at the not-quite beginner. A blurb on the book’s back cover from former Prime Minister Ehud Barak reads, “This wonderful book will show you the Israel you didn’t know you didn’t know.” Jewish celebrities such as actress Mayim Bialik and singer-songwriter David Broza have also lauded the book.

The tone of the educator-comedian’s shows has been modified a bit to make it more appropriate for the post-October 7 world. There are now more reflections and stories about his Jewish upbringing and his life in Israel.

“There are still laughs,” he says, “but it’s less jokey, more organic. And therapeutic for the audience. Especially in challenging times like these, I truly believe that when we laugh together, we are together.”  

Chasnoff lives in Israel these days, but he grew up right outside Chicago, attending Jewish day school in Skokie, Illinois, and summer camps throughout the Midwest. After high school, he headed east for college and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.

He didn’t go on after that to fulfill his mother’s law school dream, but he did fulfill another one: serving in the Israel Defense Forces. Assigned to Battalion 71 of the Armored Corps, he was a tank gunner in the Golan Heights and South Lebanon, an experience he chronicles in his humorous memoir “The 188th Crybaby Brigade.” 

The Main Event begins at 7 p.m. on April 4 in the JCC Kline Auditorium. Registration is required and tickets are $36 each at All proceeds from the evening will go to the Jewish Federation’s Israel Emergency Campaign.