Mishkon Tephilo Book Club
By Adrienne Enzer
Mishkon’s Book Club is very active and going strong. Started several years ago by Mishkon member Barbara Wiesenfeld, the group was renamed Barbara’s Book Club in her memory.
The club meets every 4 to 6 weeks in the home of one of the participants.
We read books of Jewish interest, both fiction and non-fiction. We read about Israel, the Holocaust, Jews in the Diaspora – Egypt, Iraq, England, Argentina, and the American Jewish experience. We read American, Israeli and European authors, both newly published and more well-known.
Three years ago, we began what has become an annual tradition of having local authors come to a meeting to talk about their books.
Our first speaker was Professor Yona Sabar of UCLA, who spoke about My Father’s Paradise, a biography written about him by his son, Ariel Sabar. Yona was the last bar mitzvah in his small village in Kurdish Iraq.He has taught Aramaic and Hebrew at UCLA for more than 40 years and was a fascinating speaker.
In 2013, Marthe Cohn spoke about her book Behind Enemy Lines, in which she tells the story of her experiences as a young Jewish woman spying for the French during World War II. This year, 2014, our speaker was Jonathan Kirsch, book review editor for the Jewish Journal, who spoke about his recent book The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynzspan.
Our discussions are very lively because our members have varied life experiences and professions ̶ and, of course, opinions. We often have members who have not read the book come anyway, because then they can decide whether they do want to read it!
Apart from the intellectual stimulation, the book group has provided its stalwart members with an added, priceless benefit: the creation of a family within the family of Mishkon.