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  • Community Engagement

Book Club with Guest Author Alan Verskin (Online)

  • Wednesday, March 29
  • 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM
  • Program Leader: Author Alan Verskin

This month we will be discussing The Diary of a Black Jewish Messiah, by Alan Verskin (Non-Fiction).  Please join us on Zoom! TBE’s Book Club and Racial Justice Initiative are co-hosting the author, Alan Verskin, an Associate Professor in the History Department at the University of Rhode Island, Professor Verskin will discuss his book, a reminder that there is more diversity in our Jewish history than we might imagine.

This event will take place through a video conference call. Registration is not required.  We welcome anyone to join us at any time. But, if this is your first time with us, we ask that you kindly let Trina Reinach, [email protected], know that you will be attending (by providing your email address) so that we can be sure you receive our correspondences.

Dates & Time: Tuesdays, September 20, October 25, November 29, December 27, January 31, February 28, March 29 (Wednesday), April 25, May 30, June 27, 7:30-9:00 PM

If you’re new to Zoom, watch a tutorial or read written instructions on how to join a Zoom video call.

Diary of a Black Jewish Messiah: The Sixteenth-Century Journey of David Reubeni through Africa, the Middle East, and Europe
In 1523, David Reubeni appeared in Venice, claiming to be the ambassador of a powerful Jewish kingdom deep in Arabia. In an era of fierce rivalry between great powers, and voyages of fantastic discovery and brutal conquest of new lands, people throughout the Mediterranean saw the signs of an impending apocalypse. They imagined that allies in soon-to-be-discovered lands would join them in an epic war, with either a Christian or an Islamic decisive victory. Reubeni entered this environment with a distinctively Jewish take on these events. With his army of desert warriors from lost Israelite tribes, he pledged to deliver the Jews to the Holy Land and restore their pride and autonomy. He shuttled between European rulers, seeking weapons in exchange for the support of his hitherto unknown but mighty Jewish kingdom. Many, however, believed him to favor the relatively tolerant Ottomans to the persecutorial Christian regimes. Although numerous Jews and conversos hailed Reubeni as the messiah, his plans were halted when the Holy Roman Emperor turned him over to the Inquisition and, in 1538, he was burned at the stake. Diary of a Black Jewish Messiah is the first English translation of Reubeni’s Hebrew-language diary, detailing his travels in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. It reveals both the dramatic desperation of Renaissance Jewish communities and the struggles of the diplomat, trickster, and dreamer who wanted to save them.

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