The Book Club has been part of the TBE landscape since 2011, when Helene Kress and Trina Reinach asked the question, “Why doesn’t a community of the People of the Book have a book club?” It was shortly after we made the move into our new makom. and seemed an auspicious time to begin something new. We gathered in the Beit Midrash to discuss books with a Jewish connection, be it author, theme, or subject matter. Attendance varied dramatically…from five people to more than twenty. It depended on the book, the weather, what else was going on in the temple. We probably drew the largest crowd when an author who had grown up in the TBE community came to discuss the book he had written about King David. But the numbers don’t matter. The discussion is always warm, open and stimulating.
It was not long before it was clear we had a group of “regulars” who were present at most meetings. Of course, each book draws its own fans, who join the ranks of “regulars.” All were (and are) welcome. Pre Registration is not required, so each month’s attendance is a surprise. The discussions are amazing. People often comment that they leave the meeting with a totally different view of the book they have just read. The exchange of perspectives can be eye-opening..and mind-opening, as well.
We read fiction and non-fiction…Israeli writers such as A. B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, Meir Shalev and Yossi Klein Halevi. Jewish writers such as Isaac Bashevis Singer and Simon Weisenthal, Phillip Roth, Julie Orringer and Gary Shteyngart. Books are usually chosen by a consensus of the members.
Often what we read touches a chord in the minds or hearts of the readers, who are then moved to share meaningful events in their own family or life experience. In this way the book club community has bonded by the reading and sharing of meaningful stories. This has been especially true when we have read about immigration, family secrets and sibling rivalry.
Since COVID, we have met on Zoom. While we talk about resuming in-person gatherings, we have not done so yet. The upside of this is that people can join from wherever they are and whatever the weather. Thus far we have not been willing to give up that advantage. So come and join us! Contact Trina, [email protected], if you’d like to be added to our mailing list.
We hope you join us this month; in collaboration with TBE’s Racial Justice Initiative, we welcome author Alan Verskin. Professor Verski will discuss his book The Diary of a Black Jewish Messiah.
Join Us: March 29 | Book Club with Guest Author Alan Verskin (Online)