June 23, 2017 •
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Congregational Learning: TBA Book Group

With Rabbi Clifford Kulwin

TBA Book Group with Rabbi Kulwin…

Eighteen years ago, a group of Temple members, led by Rabbi Kulwin, began reading together. Since then, the members of the TBA Book Group have read nearly 200 books together, and continue to read and discuss (and argue!) with enthusiasm and enjoyment. If you like to read, join us!  Selections are generally grouped in two or three months of a particular theme. Books are almost always available easy from area libraries, online, or at local bookstores.  And when they are not, the Temple will secure several copies of the book for us to share. Readers love to read, and serious readers know that talking only enhances the reading. And when we talk about what we read, we inevitably grow close as we share our thoughts and feelings about how the works we read have touched us. All of us regulars consider this one of the most important hours we spend each month, and we would love to share it with you.

Book selections from 2000 to present

For additional information contact Rabbi Kulwin

To register click here or contact the temple office at 973.994.2290

Read thus far:

The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard
Fifty-five years after Mila 18, The Book of Aron returns to the Warsaw Ghetto where we meet its eight -year-old protagonist.  Aron, on his own, is taken in by Janusz Korczak, the doctor who founded a Jewish orphanage. Aron’s evolution from thief to hero touches the soul; his dignity and grace amid the tragedy make finishing the book with dry eyes impossible.

Mila 18 by Leon Uris
Since its 1961 publication, Mila 18 has sold millions of copies, and it is clear why.This account of the Warsaw Ghetto reveals Uris’ greatness as a novelist: crisp, riveting prose telling a tale beyond belief. Some have criticized the work’s lack of nuance; nonetheless, translated into dozens of languages, its role in making sure the world knows what happened in Europe is undeniable.

The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman
Basis of the 2002 film, The Pianist is a memoir by one of Poland’s greatest musicians. Written just after the war and suppressed for decades, the work was only widely distributed in Poland, and translated into English, around the turn of this century. Szpilman’s memories of life in occupied Warsaw, and the music that saved his life, are unforgettable.

As Close To Us As Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner
Connecticut’s “Bagel Beach,” 1948. Three sisters gather at the family cottage for the summer─a world of mothers and children during the week, until the men arrive for Shabbat and the weekend.. A family tragedy rips apart the equilibrium of the happy clan, causing each member to look upon the others in a new, and not always flattering, light

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman
Brooklyn, 1947. Sharing a brownstone, sisters-in-law Rose and Helen raise their families side by side, a proximity strengthening the weakening bonds between them. Intrigue, mistrust and insights into family (and Jewish family) dynamics play roles in this study of a memorable place and time in American Jewish history.

Until the Dawn’s Light by Aharon Appelfeld
Small-town Austria around 1912. Jewish math prodigy Blanca, desperate to escape depressed, depressing parents, falls in love and marries the gentile (and eerily named) Adolf. When the marriage sours, Blanca and her young son flee, although it is only at the end that we learn exactly from what. Ever present is the specter of the Holocaust, a constant in the fiction of Appelfeld, one of the few survivors to still write fiction

Between Friends by Amos Oz
The fictional Kibbutz Yekhat is the setting for these eight interrelated stories, through which Oz evokes the feeling and the mood of kibbutz life during Israel’s first two decades.Through gripping stories, Oz’s many years spent on a kibbutz are evident as he presents the lofty ideals and petty behavior with which these kibbutzniks plow their personal and collective fields.

The Extra by A.B. Yehoshua
Noga, an Israeli harpist with a Dutch orchestra, returns home for three months to house sit her mother’s rent-controlled Jerusalem apartment while her mother experiments with assisted living. Moving among short-term jobs, she reacquaints herself with Israel, a yoredet back home, a part-timer in a full-time world. An ex-husband carrying a torch does not make things easier.


Living from the Ashes: This year, a large portion of Congregational Learning will focus on Holocaust thought and study. From remembrances to historical analysis, these events and programs will help develop a narrative aimed at exploring the how and the why of the Shoah, but also the what now? The TBA Book Group selections from March to June 2017 will reflect this theme. For more courses in the 2017  “Holocaust Thought and Studies program, click here.

The Holocaust, Then and Now
The Shoah inspires innumerable literary efforts, perhaps because it was and is so unimaginable.This year, we read two classics of Holocaust literature and two books published during the past year. Each is solid, praiseworthy work; comparing them will shed light on if ─and how─the world’s understanding of this cataclysm has changed over the last 70 years.

Thursday, June 8, 7:30 PM The Last Flight of Poxl West by Daniel Torday
Torday’s first novel asks us to consider just who deserves to be called a hero. Nephew Eli Goldstein worships his pilot war-hero uncle, a Czech Jew who flew missions for the RAF and has now just published a memoir. As Eli learns more about Poxl, however, he realizes that the stories he has heard may not be quite accurate, and he begins to wonder just what Poxl is. Eli understands Poxl is simply a liar, but he also comes to learn that reality is anything but simple.

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