Between the Covers (Book Group)

Book discussion series at Shir Shalom, currently enjoying another successful year in this format. All are welcome!

Each meeting focuses on a selected work of contemporary Jewish fiction by a Jewish author. Discussion leadership rotates. We are a friendly, intelligent and intergenerational group of readers who love to explore books and make new friends by sharing ideas and feelings through literature.

Sponsored by Sisterhood, Between the Covers meetings welcome all women, men and mature teens of the community. We meet in the Library free of charge. Newcomers are especially welcome at any meeting.  Brown Bag Lunch at 11:30 AM, Discussion from Noon until 1:30 PM.

Books are ordered in advance by individual members. They may be found new or used at area bookstores, online or sometimes through the local library and inter-library loan (depending on how recent the title is). If you are unable to finish the book in time for the meeting, please come anyway to hear the discussion!


Apr 21 2017:

The Four of Us: The Story of a Family, by Elizabeth Swados 

1991    9 copies in library   243 pages

The moving story of the author’s talented family, which is haunted by the tragedy of the first child’s schizophrenia. Four essays, one for each family member’s story, combine to create a complex and resonant picture of the four sides of a family rectangle. (Local Buffalo connection)

May 19 2017:

The Last Flight of Poxi West, by Daniel Torday          

2015    15 copies in library  291 pages

“All his life, Elijah Goldstein has idolized his charismatic Uncle Poxl. Intensely magnetic, cultured and brilliant, Poxl takes Elijah under his wing, introducing him to opera and art and literature. But when Poxl publishes a memoir of how he was forced to leave his home north of Prague at the start of WWII and then avenged the deaths of his parents by flying RAF bombers over Germany during the war, killing thousands of German citizens, Elijah watches as the carefully constructed world his uncle has created begins to unravel. As Elijah discovers the darker truth of Poxl’s past, he comes to understand that the fearless war hero he always revered is in fact a broken and devastated man who suffered unimaginable losses from which he has never recovered. [This book, the author’s] debut novel, weaves together what it means to be a family in the shadow of war– to love, to lose, and to heal”—

June 16 2017:

The Fortune Teller’s Kiss, by Brenda Serotte  

2012    Not in Library yet   220 pages

There was always the incantation: “Whoever wishes you harm, may harm come to them!” And just in case that didn’t work, there were garlic and cloves to repel the Evil Eye—or, better yet, the dried foreskin from a baby boy’s circumcision, ground to a fine powder. But whatever precautions Brenda Serotte was subjected to, they were not enough. Shortly before her eighth birthday, in the fall of 1954, she came down with polio—painfully singled out in a world already marked by differences. Her bout with the dreaded disease is at the heart of this poignant and heartbreakingly hilarious memoir of growing up a Sephardic Jew among Ashkenazi neighbors in the Bronx.

This was a world of belly dancers and fortune tellers, shelter drills and vast quantities of Mediterranean food; a world of staunchly joined and endlessly contrary aunts and uncles, all drawn here in loving, merciless detail. The Fortune Teller’s Kiss is a heartfelt tribute to a disappearing culture and a paean to the author’s truly quirky clan, especially her beloved champion, her father. It is also a deft and intimate cultural history of the Bronx fifty years ago and of its middle-class inhabitants, their attitudes toward contagious illness, womanly beauty, poverty, and belonging.

July 21 2017:

Why We Remain Jews, The Path to Faith, by Vladimir Tsesis, MD     

2013    Not in Library yet   254 pages  

Dr. Tsesis describes the path he traversed from religious ignorance to strong belief in the Jewish religion. In this book whose themes intersect with philosophy, theology, and ethics, Tsesis assigns a special place to the proof of his conclusion that religion and science–especially in light of recent discoveries–are not antagonists, and are, in fact, in complete harmony, supplementing and not excluding each other. In the spirit of ecumenism Tsesis speaks about coexistence of different religions, which share the common objective of assurance of perpetual survival of the human race. The unifying theme of this book, however, is the beauty of the Jewish religion and a possible answer to the question of why we remain Jews.

Last updated: April 18, 2017 at 11:52 am