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Jewish Studies Sunday Book & Discussion Group


The Sunday Book and Discussion is FREE. However, to make sure we have room, please contact Rhonda Rosen at or 310-338-4584.  The bookgroup meets on Level 3 of the William H. Hannon Library.

What we are reading


January 22, 2012 2:00-3:30pm
"Lost In Translation", by Eva Hoffman
Daughter of Holocaust survivors, the author, a New York Times Book Review editor, lost her sense of place and belonging when she emigrated with her family from Poland to Vancouver in 1959 at the age of 13. Although she works within a familiar genre here, Hoffman's is a penetrating, lyrical memoir that casts a wide net as it joins vivid anecdotes and vigorous philosophical insights on Old World Cracow and Ivy League America; Polish anti-Semitism; the degradations suffered by immigrants; Hoffman's cultural nostalgia, self-analysis and intellectual passion; and the atrophy of her Polish from disuse and her own disabling inarticulateness in English as a newcomer. Linguistic dispossession, she explains, "is close to the dispossession of one's self." As Hoffman savors the cadences and nuances of her adopted language, she remains ever conscious of assimilation's perils: "But how does one bend toward another culture without falling over, how does one strike an elastic balance between rigidity and self-effacement?"
Elizabeth Drummond, Department of History, facilitator

February 12, 2012 2:00-3:30pm
 “Bernhard", by Yoel Hoffmann
In Israeli avant-garde novelist Hoffmann's startling minimalist collage, 50-ish, grief-numbed widower Bernhard Stein, transplanted from Berlin to Palestine, ruminates on his wife's death, on history and on the universe against a background of Hitler's rampage across Europe. A postmodernist kaleidoscope unfolding in 172 loosely interconnected vignettes, most of them a page in length or shorter, this experimental novel echoes Hoffmann's more conventional double-novella American debut, The Book of Joseph and Katschen. Bernhard, whose feverish ruminations hop from Spinoza to El Greco to Trotsky, is a man unhinged. His best friend, a plumber named Gustav, and Elvira Neuwirth, the cultured Viennese widow with whom he flirts, seem almost as unreal as his fictive alter ego, Moscow-born dermatologist D.S. Gregory, whose father lost a leg fighting in the American Revolution. Within these flights of fancy lies a searing meditation on loss of faith, the tragedy of modern history and life's apparent meaninglessness. Hoffmann's semantic riffs, historical excursions and self-referential metaphysical noodlings can be wearying. Yet he adds ballast to this tale by loading it with dark parables and dreams; Jewish ritual and lore; German, Yiddish and Arabic phrases (translated in the margins); and snatches of songs, childhood memories and sexual fantasies. His hypnotic prose fuses everyday events and surreal imagery with the lyrical intensity of a Chagall painting.
Gil Klein, Department of Theological Studies, facilitator

March 18, 2012 2:00-3:30pm
“The lemon tree : an Arab, a Jew, and the heart of the Middle East”, by Sandy Tolan
 "In the summer of 1967, not long after the Six Day War, three young Arab men ventured into the town of Ramla, in what is now Jewish Israel. They were cousins, on a pilgrimage to see their childhood homes; their families had been driven out of Palestine nearly twenty years earlier. One cousin had a door slammed in his face, and another found his old house had been converted into a school. But the third, Bashir, was met at the door by a young woman called Dalia, who invited him in." "This poignant encounter is the starting point for a true story of two families, one Arab, one Jewish, amid the fraught modern history of the region. In Bashir's childhood home, in the lemon tree his father planted in the backyard, he sees dispossession and occupation; Dalia, who arrived as an infant in 1948 with her family from Bulgaria, sees hope for a people devastated by the Holocaust. Both are swept up in the fates of their people, and their lives form a personal microcosm of more than half a century of Israeli-Palestinian history."
Saba Soomekh, Department of Theological Studies, facilitator

April 22, 2012 2:00-3:30pm
“Displaced Persons”, by Ghita Schwarz
Moving from the Allied zones of postwar Germany to New York City, an astonishing novel of grief and anger, memory and survival witnessed through the experiences of "displaced persons" struggling to remake their lives in the decades after World War II.
Holli Levitsky, Director, Jewish Studies Program facilitator


The William H. Hannon Library is located on the Westchester campus of Loyola Marymount University. The main entrance to the Westchester campus is located off Lincoln Boulevard at LMU Drive, just south of Jefferson Boulevard.  The address is:

One LMU Drive
Los Angeles, California 90045

Parking is free.  A parking pass for the day may be obtained at the entrance kiosk on LMU Drive.  The security guard will give instructions where to park your car. 
Need local driving directions