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Jewish Studies Sunday Book & Discussion Group

What We Are Reading!

Sunday,  January 24, 2016,  2:00-3:30pm
FILM SHOWING: The Optimists
A film by Jacky & Lisa Comforty (2001, 81 mins.)

Tells the story of how Bulgarian Christians and Muslims found ways to protect 50,000 Bulgarian Jews from the Holocaust.


Sunday,  February 21, 2016,  2:00-3:30pm
A Bride for One Night: Talmud Tales, by Ruth Calderon
Facilitated by Dr. Judy Siker Department of Theological Studies

Ruth Calderon has recently electrified the Jewish world with her teachings of talmudic texts. In this volume, her first to appear in English, she offers a fascinating window into some of the liveliest and most colorful stories in the Talmud. 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, A Bride for One Night offers a surprising and provocative read, both for anyone already intimate with the Talmud and for anyone interested in one of the most influential works of Jewish literature.


Sunday,  March 20, 2016,  2:00-3:30pm
David: A Divided Heart, by Rabbi David Wolpe
Facilitated by Dr. Elaine Goodfriend, Department of Religious Studies, CSUN

Of all the figures in the Bible, David arguably stands out as the most perplexing and enigmatic. He was many things: a warrior who subdued Goliath and the Philistines; a king who united a nation; a poet who created beautiful, sensitive verse; a loyal servant of God who proposed the great Temple and founded the Messianic line; a schemer, deceiver, and adulterer who freely indulged his very human appetites.
David Wolpe, whom Newsweek called “the most influential rabbi in America,” takes a fresh look at biblical David in an attempt to find coherence in his seemingly contradictory actions and impulses. The author questions why David holds such an exalted place in history and legend, and then proceeds to unravel his complex character based on information found in the book of Samuel and later literature. What emerges is a fascinating portrait of an exceptional human being who, despite his many flaws, was truly beloved by God.

Sunday,  May 22, 2016,  2:00-3:30pm
Bread Givers, by Anzia Yezierska
Facilitated by Dr. Audrey Thacker, Department of English, CSUN

Anzia Yezierska's best-known novel, Bread Givers, received a glowing review in the New York Times on September 13, 1925. "Bread Givers enables us to see our life more clearly, to test its values, to reckon up what it is that our aims and achievements may mean. It has a raw, uncontrollable poetry and a powerful, sweeping design," the Times wrote. Yezierska, dubbed the "Cinderella of the Sweatshop" by the popular press, wrote Bread Givers about the daughter of an immigrant family who struggles against her Orthodox father's rigid idea of Jewish womanhood.


RSVP, Please!

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.