Saturdays, 12:45–2pm in the Chapel

The 4 books chosen this year were recommended by members of the book club, Jane McNally, Rabbi Barbara Penzner (honorary member), and Paula Doress-Worters.

The Shabbat Book Club is open to everyone and strives to include a wide range of reading material, including popular novels, Israeli authors, Jewish philosophy/intellectual thought, and current events. You are welcome to attend whether you have read the books or not! Books may be purchased on-line at www.amazon.com. Many are available at your public library. Our discussion leader is Leslie Belay, but she welcomes members to volunteer to lead particular discussions. For more information, or to volunteer to facilitate, contact Leslie Belay (617/460-5417).

Oct 18           Marrying Out: Jewish Men, Intermarriage, and Fatherhood (The Modern Jewish Experience) by Keren R. McGinity (Books will be available from the temple office at a discount. Come to the Allen J. Worters Memorial Lecture on November 9 to hear the author and have her sign your book)

When American Jewish men intermarry, goes the common assumption, they and their families are "lost" to the Jewish religion. In this provocative book, Keren R. McGinity shows that it is not necessarily so. She looks at intermarriage and parenthood through the eyes of a post-World War II cohort of Jewish men and discovers what intermarriage has meant to them and their families. She finds that these husbands strive to bring up their children as Jewish without losing their heritage. Marrying Out argues that the "gendered ethnicity" of intermarried Jewish men, growing out of their religious and cultural background, enables them to raise Jewish children. McGinity’s book is a major breakthrough in understanding Jewish men’s experiences as husbands and fathers, how Christian women navigate their roles and identities while married to them, and what needs to change for American Jewry to flourish. 

 

 Dec 27 The Boston Girl, the latest novel by Anita Diamant

 Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine—a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love.

 Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her “How did you get to be the woman you are today.” She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naïve girl she was and a wicked sense of humor.

 (NOTE: this book will be available Dec 9; pre-orders available on amazon.com or your local bookstore)

 Feb. 28  Jews and Words by Amos Oz and Fania Oz-Salzberger

Oz and his daughter, a historian, combine their considerable talents to examine the role words and language have played in binding the Jewish people to their heritage. Although neither is religious (nor, for that matter, a believer), both find rich meaning in the words of the Bible (as well as the commentaries that followed). They theorize that the reason Judaism has survived is more about texts than faith, with “controversy built into them from the start.” Exhibiting eye-popping feats of literary scholarship and stunning swoops into the minds of writers, readers, and rabbis, the authors clearly relish the richness of their topic. The familiar subjects are here (the role of humor in Jewish writing), but the duo goes much further than expected. What about the important part questions have played in the writings, starting with Genesis? A wonderful chapter recounts the role of women writers and shows how the author of Song of Songs might have been female. The text grapples with what it means to be a Jew, especially with God optional, and how Judaism might never have survived without the decision of fathers and mothers to impress the importance (and sweetness) of learning on children early and often. This is a book to read, think about, and discuss because, as the ending notes, “every time we read a text, we author it in our own image.”

 April 11  A Bride for One Night: Talmud Tales by Ruth Calderon and Ilana Kurshan

 Ruth Calderon has recently electrified the Jewish world with her teachings of talmudic texts. In this volume, her first to appear in English, she offers a fascinating window into some of the liveliest and most colorful stories in the Talmud. Calderon rewrites talmudic tales as richly imagined fictions, drawing us into the lives of such characters as the woman who risks her life for a sister suspected of adultery; a humble schoolteacher who rescues his village from drought; and a wife who dresses as a prostitute to seduce her pious husband in their garden. Breathing new life into an ancient text, A Bride for One Night offers a surprising and provocative read, both for anyone already intimate with the Talmud and for anyone interested in one of the most influential works of Jewish literature.