TBA Book Groupwith Rabbi David Z. Vaisberg, M.A.R.E, M.A.H.L.
The B’nai Abraham Book Group will have engaging, meaningful, and edifying conversations about different books each month. Books are available for purchase on Amazon and other booksellers.
Wednesdays, 7:30 PM
When Time Stopped: A Memoir of My Father’s War and What Remains by Ariana Neumann – February 9
In 1941, the first Neumann family member was taken by the Nazis, arrested in German-occupied Czechoslovakia for bathing in a stretch of river forbidden to Jews. He was transported to Auschwitz. Eighteen days later his prisoner number was entered into the morgue book. Of thirty-four Neumann family members, twenty-five were murdered by the Nazis. When Time Stopped is a detective story and an epic family memoir, spanning nearly ninety years and crossing oceans. Neumann brings each relative to vivid life.
Ariana Neumann was born in Caracas, Venezuela. She has been researching her family history, tracing people, uncovering untold stories and solving the mysteries of her father’s past for over a decade. Ariana studied History and French Literature at Tufts University and received an MA from New York University in Spanish and Latin American Literature. She also has a degree from University of London in Psychology of Religion.
Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel by Matti Friedman – March 9
Award-winning writer Matti Friedman’s tale of Israel’s first spies has all the tropes of an espionage novel, including duplicity, betrayal, disguise, clandestine meetings, the bluff, and the double bluff–but it’s all true. Spies of No Country is about the slippery identities of these young spies, but it’s also about Israel’s own complicated and fascinating identity. Israel sees itself and presents itself as a Western nation, when in fact more than half the country has Middle Eastern roots and traditions, like the spies of this story. And, according to Friedman, that goes a long way toward explaining the life and politics of the country, and why it often baffles the West. For anyone interested in real-life spies and the paradoxes of the Middle East, Spies of No Country is an intimate story with global significance.
Matti Friedman is an Israeli Canadian journalist and author. Friedman was born in Canada and grew up in Toronto. In 1995, he made aliyah to Israel and now he lives in Jerusalem. Between 2006 and the end of 2011, Friedman was a reporter and editor in the Jerusalem bureau of the Associated Press (AP) news agency. During his journalistic career, he also worked as a reporter in Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Moscow and Washington, D.C.
The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein – April 13
From a star theoretical physicist, a journey into the world of particle physics and the cosmos — and a call for a more just practice of science. In The Disordered Cosmos, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein shares her love for physics, from the Standard Model of Particle Physics and what lies beyond it, to the physics of melanin in skin, to the latest theories of dark matter — all with a new spin informed by history, politics, and the wisdom of Star Trek.
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is an American and Barbadian theoretical cosmologist, and is both an Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy and a Core Faculty Member in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of New Hampshire.
Negative Space by Lilly Dancyger – May 11
Despite her parents’ struggles with addiction, Lilly Dancyger always thought of her childhood as a happy one. But what happens when a journalist interrogates her own rosy memories to reveal the instability around the edges? Dancyger’s father, Joe Schactman, was part of the iconic 1980s East Village art scene. He created provocative sculptures out of found materials like animal bones, human hair, and broken glass, and brought his young daughter into his gritty, iconoclastic world. She idolized him—despite the escalating heroin addiction that sometimes overshadowed his creative passion. When Schactman died suddenly, just as Dancyger was entering adolescence, she went into her own self-destructive spiral, raging against a world that had taken her father away. As an adult, Dancyger began to question the mythology she’d created about her father—the brilliant artist, struck down in his prime. Using his sculptures, paintings, and prints as a guide, Dancyger sought out the characters from his world who could help her decode the language of her father’s work to find the truth of who he really was.
Lilly Dancyger is a contributing editor at Catapult, and assistant editor at Barrelhouse Books. She’s the author of Negative Space, a reported and illustrated memoir selected by Carmen Maria Machado as a winner of the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards; and the editor of Burn It Down, a critically acclaimed anthology of essays on women’s anger from Seal Press. Her writing has been published by Longreads, The Washington Post, Glamour, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and more.
The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen – June 8
Corbin College, not-quite-upstate New York, winter 1959-1960: Ruben Blum, a Jewish historian – but not an historian of the Jews – is coopted onto a hiring committee to review the application of an exiled Israeli scholar specializing in the Spanish Inquisition. When Benzion Netanyahu shows up for an interview, family unexpectedly in tow, Blum plays the reluctant host, to guests who proceed to lay waste to his American complacencies. Mixing fiction with non-fiction, the campus novel with the lecture, THE NETANYAHUS is a wildly inventive, genre-bending comedy of blending, identity, and politics – ‘An Account of A Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Incident in the History of a Very Famous Family’ that finds Joshua Cohen at the height of his powers.
Joshua Cohen (born September 6, 1980 in New Jersey) is an American novelist and writer of stories.
Previous books covered in 2021-2022
The Quiet Boy by Ben Winters – January 12
From the bestselling author of Underground Airlines and Golden State, a sweeping legal thriller about a sixteen-year-old who suffers from a neurological condition that has frozen him in time, and the team of lawyers, doctors, and detectives who are desperate to wake him up. Told from alternating perspectives, The Quiet Boy explores the tensions between justice and compassion, in heart-pounding prose. With clever plotting, and a knack for character, Winters expertly weaves a group of misfits together in a race to save themselves and an innocent life.
Ben Winters is the New York Times bestselling author of Underground Airlines and the Last Policeman trilogy. The second novel in the trilogy, Countdown City, was an NPR Best Book of 2013 and the winner of the Philip K. Dick award. The Last Policeman was the recipient of the 2012 Edgar Award, and was also named one of the Best Books of 2012 by Amazon.com and Slate.
The Lost Shtetl by Max Gross – October 13
What if there was a town that history missed? For decades, the tiny Jewish shtetl of Kreskol existed in happy isolation, virtually untouched and unchanged. Spared by the Holocaust and the Cold War, its residents enjoyed remarkable peace. It missed out on cars, and electricity, and the internet, and indoor plumbing. But when a marriage dispute spins out of control, the whole town comes crashing into the twenty-first century.
Max Gross is a former staff writer for the New York Post and the Forward and is currently the Editor in Chief of the Commercial Observer.
The Messiah of Stockholm by Cynthia Ozick – November 17
A small group of Jews weave a web of intrigue and fantasy around a book reviewer’s contention that he is the son of Bruno Schulz, the legendary Polish writer killed by the Nazis before his magnum opus, The Messiah, could be brought to light.
Cynthia Ozick was the recipient of the first Rea Award for the Short Story in 1976, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award in 2008. Upon publication of her 1983 The Shawl, Edmund White wrote in the New York Times, “Miss Ozick strikes me as the best American writer to have emerged in recent years…Judaism has given to her what Catholicism gave to Flannery O’Connor.”
-June 9, 2021: Beyond the Ghetto Gates by Michelle Cameron
-May, 2021: Dangerous Religious Ideas: the Deep Roots of Self-Critical Faith in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam by Rachel Mikva
–April, 2021: The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman-November, 2020: Kaddish.com by Nathan Englander
-March, 2021: The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902: Immigrant Housewives and the Riots That Shook New York City by Scott D. Seligman (author spoke at to the Book Group).
-February, 2021: Caste: the Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
-January, 2021:Seven Good Years by Etgar Keret
-December, 2020: Homesick by Eshkol Nevo