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 book sellers.
Book Selections 2020-2021
Wednesdays, 7:30 PM with Rabbi Vaisberg, via Zoom
May 12 – Dangerous Religious Ideas: the Deep Roots of Self-Critical Faith in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam by Rachel Mikva- Author will be speaking at Book Group.
Summary: Reveals how faith traditions have always passed down tools for self-examination and debate, because all religious ideas–not just extremist ones–can cause harm, even as they also embody important moral teachings. Scripture’s abiding relevance can inspire great goodness, such as welcoming the stranger and extending compassion for the poor. But its authority has also been wielded to defend slavery, marginalize LGBTQ individuals, ignore science, and justify violence. Grounded in close readings of scripture and tradition in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, religious scholar Rachel Mikva shows us that the Abrahamic religions have always been aware of their tremendous power both to harm and to heal. And so they have transmitted their sacred stories along with built-in tools–interpretive traditions–to do the necessary work of taking on dangerous religious ideas and fostering self-critical faith. Dangerous Religious Ideas reframes the way we talk about faith to create a space where public discussion of religion is more constructive, nuanced, and socially engaged.
Author: Rachel S. Mikva serves as the Rabbi Herman E. Schaalman Chair in Jewish Studies and the Senior Faculty Fellow of the InterReligious Institute at Chicago Theological Seminary. Rabbi Mikva went to teach and earn her PhD at Jewish Theological Seminary, focusing on rabbinic literature and the history of biblical interpretation. Her courses and research address a range of Jewish and comparative studies, with a special interest in the intersections of scripture, culture, and ethics.
June 9 – Beyond the Ghetto Gates by Michelle Cameron
Summary: When French troops occupy the Italian port city of Ancona, freeing the city’s Jews from their repressive ghetto, it unleashes a whirlwind of progressivism and brutal backlash as two very different cultures collide. Mirelle, a young Jewish maiden, must choose between her duty-an arranged marriage to a wealthy Jewish merchant-and her love for a dashing French Catholic soldier. Meanwhile, Francesca, a devout Catholic, must decide if she will honor her marriage vows to an abusive and murderous husband when he enmeshes their family in the theft of a miracle portrait of the Madonna.
Set during the turbulent days of Napoleon Bonaparte’s Italian campaign (1796–97), Beyond the Ghetto Gates is both a cautionary tale for our present moment, with its rising tide of anti-Semitism, and a story of hope-a reminder of a time in history when men and women of conflicting faiths were able to reconcile their prejudices in the face of a rapidly changing world.
Author: Michelle Cameron is a director of the Writers Circle, an NJ-based organization that offers creative writing programs to kids and adults, and the author of works of historical fiction and poetry: The Fruit of Her Hands: The Story of Shira of Ashkenaz (Pocket, 2009), In the Shadow of the Globe (Lit Pot Press, 2003). She lived in Israel for fifteen years (including three weeks in a bomb shelter during the Yom Kippur War) and served as an officer in the Israeli army teaching air force cadets technical English.
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-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
Read 2019- summer 2020:
Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Letters to my Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein HaLevi
The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
Solomon Gursky Was Here by Mordechai Richler
Sapiens: a Brief History of Human Kind by Yuval Noah Harari
A Pigeon and A Boy by Meir Shalev
New American Haggadah by Jonathan Safran Foer & Nathan Englander