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Jewish Studies Sunday Book & Discussion Group

What we are reading!

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THE BOOKS...

ALL MEETINGS WILL BE HELD AT 2:00-3:30pm, Von der Ahe Family Suite, 3rd floor of Hannon Library.

September 10, 2017
After Abel and Other Stories by Michal Lemberger
AUTHOR IN PERSON TO DISCUSS BOOK!!

In After Abel and Other Stories, author and scholar Michal Lemberger recreates the lives of nine Biblical women. In telling their tales, she enriches the voices of well-known women like Miriam, and brings out from silence those less honored. Most impressive about Lemberger's stories is her ability to place the women in their time. She does not aggrandize them or turn them into heroines. Rather, she tries to portray their lives in such a way as to give them the opportunity to explain why they took the actions that they are noted for in the Bible. It is refreshing that her stories include a wide range of biblical women—not only familiar Jewish heroines such as Miriam and Hannah, but also Hagar, Yael the Kenite, and Zeresh from the Book of Esther.

October 15, 2017
Hope, A Tragedy, by Shalom Auslander
Facilitated by Dr. Audrey Thacker, CSUN English & Jewish Studies

Hope: A Tragedy is a hilarious and haunting examination of the burdens and abuse of history, propelled with unstoppable rhythm and filled with existential musings and mordant wit. It is a comic and compelling story of the hopeless longing to be free of those pasts that haunt our every present.
The rural town of Stockton, New York, is famous for nothing: no one was born there, no one died there, nothing of any historical import at all has ever happened there, which is why Solomon Kugel, like other urbanites fleeing their pasts and histories, decided to move his wife and young son there.
To begin again. To start anew. But it isn’t quite working out that way for Kugel…His ailing mother stubbornly holds on to life, and won’t stop reminiscing about the Nazi concentration camps she never actually suffered through. To complicate matters further, some lunatic is burning down farmhouses just like the one Kugel bought, and when, one night, he discovers history—a living, breathing, thought-to-be-dead specimen of history—hiding upstairs in his attic, bad quickly becomes worse.

November 19, 2017
Henna House by Nomi Eve
Facilitated by Rabbi Joshua Kalev, Congregation Tikvat Jacob Beth Torah

This vivid saga begins in Yemen in 1920. Adela Damari’s parents’ health is failing as they desperately seek a future husband for their young daughter, who is in danger of becoming adopted by the local Muslim community if she is orphaned. With no likely marriage prospects, Adela’s situation looks dire—until she meets two cousins from faraway cities: a boy with whom she shares her most treasured secret, and a girl who introduces her to the powerful rituals of henna. Ultimately, Adela’s life journey brings her old and new loves, her true calling, and a new life as she is transported to Israel as part of Operation On Wings of Eagles.
Rich, evocative, and enthralling, Henna House is an intimate family portrait interwoven with the traditions of the Yemenite Jews and the history of the Holocaust and Israel. This sensuous tale of love, loss, betrayal, forgiveness—and the dyes that adorn the skin and pierce the heart—will captivate readers until the very last page.

January 21, 2018
Not in God’s Name by Jonathan Sacks
Facilitated by Dr. Elaine Goodfriend, CSUN Jewish Studies

Drawing on arguments from evolutionary psychology, game theory, history, philosophy, ethics and theology, Sacks shows how a tendency to violence can subvert even the most compassionate of religions. Through a close reading of key biblical texts at the heart of the Abrahamic faiths, Sacks then challenges those who claim that religion is intrinsically a cause of violence, and argues that theology must become part of the solution if it is not to remain at the heart of the problem.This book is a rebuke to all those who kill in the name of the God of life, wage war in the name of the God of peace, hate in the name of the God of love, and practice cruelty in the name of the God of compassion.
For the sake of humanity and the free world, the time has come for people of all faiths and none to stand together and declare: Not in God’s Name.