“Read It & Meet” Book Discussions

Books in stack

Do you have a favorite book you'd like to share … one by a Jewish author or with Jewish content? Our "Read It & Meet" Book Discussions are usually held once a month and are open to everyone! We discuss selected books and share our experiences, reactions, and ideas.

Most book discussions take place Shabbat afternoons (exceptions are noted below) following Kiddush with the congregation (approximately 12:15pm). Moderators are needed to facilitate each book discussion. If you would like to suggest a book, act as a moderator, or would like more information, please contact Vicki Kaufman or Rayna Gellman.


Oct. 3, 2015

A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman
Slava Gelman has distanced himself from his immigrant family of Russian Jews so that he can become truly American. When his grandmother dies, his grandfather convinces Slava to submit a claim to the German government program for restitution to Holocaust survivors. The catch is that his dead grandmother qualified but his living grandfather does not. Slava amends the story, making the application in his grandfather's name. He suddenly finds that his grandfather has spread the word to the entire Russian community and that everyone wants Slava to write (read: invent) their narratives. When Otto, from the Center for Restitution, contacts Slava about the many applications received from his neighborhood, he must weigh truth against morality.

Renee Rhyner
Nov. 7 Gertruda's Oath by Oren Ram
Michael Stolowitzky, the only son of a wealthy Jewish family in Poland, was just three-years-old when war broke out and the family lost everything. His father, desperate to settle his business affairs, travels to France, leaving Michael in the care of his mother and Gertruda Bablinska, a Catholic nanny devoted to the family. When Michael's mother has a stroke, Gertruda promises the dying woman that she will make her way to Palestine and raise him as her own son.
Phyllis Broad
Dec. 5 A Bride for One Night: Talmud Tales by Ruth Calderon
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, this book is a surprising and provocative read, both for anyone already intimate with the Talmud or for anyone interested in one of the most influential works of Jewish literature.
Rabbi Robert Eisen
Jan. 9, 2016 (second Saturday)

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
An epic panorama of WWII that illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women's war. This is the story of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France, a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women.

Joni Belzer
Feb. 6 My Promised Land by Ari Shavit
 important book about Israel and Zionism that is both movingly inspiring and at times heartbreakingly painful. It tells the story of the Jewish state as it has never been told before, capturing both the triumph and the torment of Israel’s experience and soul. This is the book that has the capacity to reinvent and reshape the long-overdue conversation about how Israel’s complex past ought to shape its still-uncertain future.
Rayna Gellman
Mar. 5

The Unamericans by Molly Antopol
Allegiances are not always what they seem in these wonderfully engrossing stories of Old- and New-World Jews cast on the sometimes rough waters of history. This is an exceptional collection of wide-ranging, powerful, and nuanced stories…You come away with an ache in your soul for all the characters and what they were up against, how they triumphed, how they failed, and how they managed, somehow, to endure.

Vicki Kaufman
Apr. 2 Thirteen Days in September by Lawrence Wright
Chronicling the impossibly complex negotiations of the 1978 Camp David Accords, where President Jimmy Carter, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin persevered over the course of 13 days to make peace between Egypt and Israel. All three men were flawed visionaries, and the ministers and aides who attended the meetings had their own opinions and agendas. The passages about the effects of the three Abrahamic religions on the members of the delegations add an illuminating depth to this thoroughly footnoted work.
Lily Brull