Kehilla Book Group 2022-2023 Book Selections
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Our book group met in April 2022 and chose the following books to read for the 2022-2023 year:
- Mon., July 11: Cantoras by Carolina de Robertis
- Cantoras is a breathtaking portrait of queer love, community, forgotten history, and the strength of the human spirit. At once timeless and groundbreaking, Cantoras is a tale about the fire in all our souls and those who make it burn. Cantoras | Carolina De Robertis
- Mon., Aug. 8: Where the Jews Aren’t by Masha Gessen
- Kirkus Reviews: Moscow-born Gessen addresses the story of the Jewish struggle for autonomy in Stalin’s Russia. With no reason given, the Russian government decided that Jews, along with other ethnic groups like the Koreans, should be granted their freedom in an out-of-the-way spot, along the Chinese border. Birobidzhan was one of the world’s two Jewish states, a place with a Yiddish language newspaper, but no Yiddish-speaking residents. As the author tells of the formation of the settlement in 1934, she describes life as a Russian Jew.
- Mon., Sep. 12: Harvey Milk – His Lives and Death by Lilian Faderman.
- Kirkus: …Though Milk’s story is well-known, Faderman does a fantastic job at reanimating a story that reminds us that people can be truly tolerant—with the exception of the few—and that, with will (not money), anyone can effect change. Harvey Milk as seen through fresh, highly knowledgeable eyes.
- Mon., Oct. 10: Windy City Blues by Renee Rosen
- In the middle of the twentieth century, the music of the Mississippi Delta arrived in Chicago, drawing the attention of Leonard and Phil Chess – two Jewish immigrant brothers from what was then Poland. Their label, Chess Records, helped shape that music into the Chicago Blues, the soundtrack for a transformative era in American History. “The rise of the Chicago Blues scene fairly shimmers with verve and intensity, and the large, diverse cast of characters is indelibly portrayed with the perfect pitch of a true artist.”
- Mon., Nov. 14: Days of Awe by Achy Obejas
- The protagonist of this semi-autobiographical novel was born in Cuba and grew up in Chicago in a community of refugees who nurtured the hope that they might eventually return to their homeland. When her job takes her back to Cuba, she discovers that her ostensibly Catholic ancestors are actually conversos who converted to Christianity during the Spanish Inquisition. Enlightened by a revised understanding of her past and her culture, she uncovers new truths about relatives who struggled with their own identities so long ago.
- Mon., Dec. 12: Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure by Menachem Kaiser
- “A twisting and reverberant and consistently enthralling story. It’s a weird story that gets weirder … Kaiser is a reflective man on the page, with a lively mind. He dwells on the moral seesaw he finds himself on … Kaiser considers the nature of conspiracy theories, in a way that’s highly relevant to our era. (His thinking about reparations of various kinds is as complex and timely.) … Plunder has many stories to tell … many moods and registers. It acquires moral gravity. It pays tender and respectful attention to forgotten lives. It is also alert to melancholic forms of comedy.… Traveling on a private road, closer to the ground, and at a slower pace, [Kaiser’s] walk turns up details that are fresh, unexpected and significant. His perceptions are sharp. We partake of his curiosity.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
- Mon., Jan. 9: Golem Girl by Riva Lehrer
- A Jewish artist born with spina bifida shares her story and her paintings with grace and humor. Lehrer, whose paintings of what she calls “socially challenged bod[ies]” hang in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian and many other museums, narrates her difficult childhood with an eloquence and freedom from self-pity.
- Mon., Feb. 13: The Man Who Sold Air in the Holy Land by Omer Friedlander
- Chosen by the SF Jewish Community Library for One Bay One Book
- Mon., Mar. 13: Understanding the Palestinian Conflict: A Primer by Phyllis Bennis, Fellow at Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C.
- If you have ever wondered “Why is there so much violence in the Middle East?”, “Who are the Palestinians?”, “What are the occupied territories?” or “What does Israel want?”, then this is the book for you. With straightforward language, Phyllis Bennis, longtime analyst of the region, answers basic questions about Israel and Israelis, Palestine and Palestinians, the US and the Middle East, Zionism and anti-Semitism; about complex issues ranging from the Oslo peace process to the election of Hamas to the Goldstone Report and the Palestinians’ UN initiatives. Together her answers provide a comprehensive understanding of the longstanding Palestinian–Israeli conflict. Recommended by Rabbi David.
- Mon., Apr. 10: Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt
- No need to get it from a library. It is a FREE pdf on the internet.
- The controversial journalistic analysis of the mentality that fostered the Holocaust, from the author of The Origins of Totalitarianism. Sparking a flurry of heated debate, Hannah Arendt’s authoritative and stunning report on the trial of German Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann first appeared as a series of articles in The New Yorker in 1963… A major journalistic triumph by an intellectual of singular influence, Eichmann in Jerusalem is as shocking as it is informative—an unflinching look at one of the most unsettling (and unsettled) issues of the twentieth century.
- May 8: Vote on next group of books to read