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Valerie Gilpeer, Disabilities Lawyer and Mother, to Discuss Memoir during Autism Awareness Month

SPRINGFIELD, MA (March 2022) – The Springfield Jewish Community Center will host a virtual author talk and Q&A with author Valerie Gilpeer on Thursday, April 7 at 7:00 PM. Gilpeer will discuss her new memoir I Have Been Buried Under Years of Dust: A Memoir of Autism and Hope virtually via Zoom.This free event is co-sponsored by Kehillah, the Springfield JCC’s Special Needs Department.


“I have been buried under years of dust and now I have so much to say.” These were the first words 25-year-old Emily Grodin ever wrote. Born with nonverbal autism, Emily’s only means of communicatinghad been one word responses or physical gestures. That Emily was intelligent had never been inquestion – from an early age, she’d shown clear signs that she understood what was going on though she could not express herself. Her parents sought every therapy possible in the hope that Emily would one day be able to reveal herself. When this miraculous breakthrough occurred, Emily was finally able to give insight into the life, frustrations, and joys of a person with autism.


“For every parent who has a child that was not at all what they expected and discovered they could be more than they dreamed possible,” said Rabbi Sherre Hirsch, author of Thresholds and ChiefInnovation Officer at the American Jewish University. “You may not see that your dedication and resilience are paying off now, but who knows they may pay off in dividends later. A story for everyhuman who knows what it feels like to be alone and then one to be seen.”


Gilpeer, Emily’s Grodin’s mother, has worked as an attorney for 40 years. For the past twodecades, she has focused on disability rights.


This author talk is part of the 2021-2022 season of Literatour, the Springfield JCC’s community-wide celebration of Jewish books and authors. This event is free and open to the

public. Pre-registration is required. To register, visit, call 413-739-4715, or



The mission of the Springfield Jewish Community Center is to enrich community and nurture wellness through physical, intellectual, social and cultural programs and services. The organization is guided by Jewish values, welcoming andrespecting people of all abilities, ages, backgrounds, identities, and faiths.


Additional Spring Literatour Programs


Laugh Lines: Helping Funny People Be Funnier, Alan Zweibel Thursday, May12, 7:00 PM

In-Person Program at the J


Alan Zweibel started his comedy career by selling jokes for $7 apiece. Then he caught the attention of LorneMichaels and became one of the first writers at Saturday Night Live, where he penned classic material for Gilda Radner, John Belushi, and all of the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players. Zweibel weaves together his own stories and interviews with his friends and contemporaries, including Richard Lewis, Eric Idle, Bob Saget, MikeBirbiglia, Sarah Silverman, Judd Apatow, Dave Barry, Carl Reiner, and more. The book also features a charmingforeword from his friend Billy Crystal.


“Alan Zweibel is the original man behind the man,” said Steve Martin. “He is the man who delivers comedy withan emotional clout that makes him respected and revered.”


Zweibel has won multiple Emmys and Writers Guild awards for his work in television, including Saturday Night Live,It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. In 2010.

Zweibel was given an honorary Ph.D. from the State University of New York, and in 2013, the Writers Guild ofAmerica presented him with a lifetime achievement award.


Free for JCC members, $10 general public



HumanKind: Changing the World One Small Act at a Time, Brad Aronson Wednesday,June 1, 7:00 PM

Online Program (Zoom)


Brad Aronson’s life changed in an instant when his wife, Mia, was diagnosed with leukemia. Amid the stress and despair of waiting for the treatment to work, Brad and Mia were met by an outpouring of kindness from friends, family, and even complete strangers. Inspired by the many demonstrations of “humankindness” that supported their family through Mia’s recovery, Brad began writing about the people who rescued his family from that dark time,often with the smallest of gestures. But he didn’t stop there. Knowing that simple acts of kindness transform livesacross the globe every day, he sought out these stories and is now sharing them with the world.


“A refreshing read about the best of ‘humankind’,” said Pam Iorio, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. “Thisbook offers insights and actionable ideas on how we can be our best selves.


Aronson is a husband and a dad. He teaches urban youth, and everyone in his classes starts their ownbusiness, which has led to many adventures in entrepreneurship.


This program is free and open to the public.