Bagels and Books - Kehillath Shalom Synagogue's Longest Running Committee
Come join us for a good read, a better discussion and even better food.
It is hard to believe, but Bagels & Books, by far one of the most successful programs KS has ever had, has been going strong for over a quarter of a century.
We started in the Fall of 1989, with our first selection, Lovingkindness by Anne Roiphe; since then we have read more than two hundred books – fiction and non-fiction (history, political science, sociology, philosophy, biographies and more), by authors both well-known and obscure, books set in every period from the Biblical era to the Middle Ages to the Holocaust to the present day. Our books have taken us around the world: to Eastern Europe, Western Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, India, Latin America, and, of course, the US and the very familiar milieu of New York Jews.
We have read books we loved and books we had to force ourselves to finish, as well as books we never would have read but for the group, but somehow we always have managed to wring interesting discussions out of them.
Must be the bagels, lox, and coffee stimulating the brain cells on Sunday mornings!
Our guiding principle has always been to find books “by Jewish authors or of Jewish interest.” Each summer we put together our list of books for the coming year, based on recommendations and reviews. Our avid readers are looking forward to the next quarter-century and would love to have you join us.
The Bridal Chair by Gloria Goldreich
In this work of “biofiction,” we see Marc Chagall through the eyes of his loyally protective daughter, Ida — his peril as a Jew in Nazi-overrun Europe, his heated competitiveness, his contentiousness as husband and father, his consuming immersion in his work. Here is history as story-telling, and here also is the question, “Must the artist’s character match the enchantments of his art?”
Notorious RBG; the Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon & Shana Knihzik
An original hybrid of reported narrative, annotated dissents, rare archival photos and documents, and illustrations, the book tells a never-before-told story of an unusual and transformative woman who transcends generational divides.
They Don't Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine
A hilarious novel about aging, family, loneliness. When Joy Bergman’s beloved husband dies, her children have no shortage of solutions for their mother’s loneliness and despair, but there is one challenge they did not count on: the reappearance of an ardent suitor from Joy’s college days. And they didn’t count on Joy herself, a mother suddenly as willful and rebellious as their own kids
Saving Sophie by Ronald H. Balson
Jack Sommers was just an ordinary accountant from Chicago — that is, until his wife passed away, his young daughter was kidnapped, and he became the main suspect in an $88 million dollar embezzlement case. Now Jack is on the run, hoping to avoid the feds long enough to rescue his daughter, Sophie, from her maternal grandfather, a suspected terrorist in Palestine, and also to thwart a major terrorist attack in Hebron in the process.
A Bride for One Night; Talmud Tales by Ruth Calderon
If Joseph Heller had served in Congress instead of the Second World War, he might have written this book instead of Catch- 22. Congressman Steve Israel’s tale of how the war on terror sweeps up an unassuming salesman from Long Island is both darkly hilarious and hilariously dark. Somehow Israel has combined his access to top secret national security briefings with a finely tuned sense of the absurd as he skewers Washington bureaucrats, Machiavellian politicians, and a certain Darth Vader-like Vice President.
Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
Neurosurgeon Eitan Green has the perfect life--married to a beautiful police officer and father of two young boys. Then, speeding along a deserted moonlit road after an exhausting hospital shift, he hits an African immigrant, sees that he is beyond help, and flees the scene. When the victim’s widow knocks at Eitan’s door the next day, divulging that she knows what happened, Eitan discovers that her price for silence is not money. It is something else entirely, something that will shatter Eitan's safe existence. “...a gripping, suspenseful, and morally devastating drama of guilt and survival, shame and desire…”
The Prime Ministers; An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership by Yehuda Avner
Join us for this special joint session of Bagels and Books and the Israel and Jewish Affairs Committee
Benjamin Netanyahu called this book “...a fascinating account of someone who was an eye witness to many historic moments in the history of the Jewish state.” In a joint session with the Israel Affairs Forum, led by Nissim Yeheskel, our specific topic will be Menachem Begin, Parts I and III of the book. Nissim suggests that, for purposes of discussion, participants may read any material/book about Begin.
After the Fire by Lauren Belfer
An intellectual thriller and a beautiful love story. What if you came into possession of an historical artifact with the power to alter history and change the world? An American soldier in 1945 Germany unknowingly purloins a controversial unpublished cantata by J. S. Bach, with lyrics based on one of Martin Luther’s anti-Jewish screeds, and it ends up in the hands of the soldier’s niece upon his death. The journey of this manuscript, from Sara Itzig Levy, a Jewish student of Bach’s eldest son, to America, details the strong currents of anti-Semitism that have existed in Germany for centuries.
Irena's Children by Tilar J. Mazzeo
Raoul Wallenberg and Oskar Schindler have become synonymous with saving Jews during the Holocaust. Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker who saved 2500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto, deserves to be mentioned in the same breath. Even if you have read volumes on the Holocaust, you will find this book harrowing, surprising, and riveting.
The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander
In the 1970s, Buenos Aires’ Jews live in fear of Argentina’s vicious military dictatorship. Against the backdrop of the dirty war conducted against leftists and activists, Kaddish Poznan scratches together a living vandalizing the gravestones of Jewish criminals who are embarrassments to their families, even in eternal slumber. Englander asks universal questions about remembering the dead, dealing with evil, and addressing assimilation, love, ritual, and generational gaps.