Friday, November 22, 2013

Books, Book lists and Book Group

I have a book group at Lakeside Congregation and this week before we met I updated our  list of books and discovered we have read 33 books.  We have been meeting since December 2011  and it all started when a few woman asked if we could do an evening book group.  We read Jewish books and being transparent here some of the books I have read before I recommend them and some I have just researched.  

We have appreciated most of the books and others we have come to appreciate after we have had our group discussion.  I think one of my favorite book group meetings was  The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund De Waal.  The book is well written; not particularly easy to read and is a family memoir by British ceramicist Edmund De Waal who tells the story of his family the Ephrussi, once a very wealthy European Jewish banking dynasty, centered in Odessa, Vienna and Paris, and peers of the Rothschild family. The Ephrussis lost almost everything in 1938 when the Nazis "Aryanized" their property.

At this meeting we all brought a meaningful family heirloom and we saw some beautiful family objects and learned even more about one another.  We are able to share stories and get to learn about one another at all of our book groups.  We come from different backgrounds, some of us were not born in America, some of us are married, some divorced, some with children and grandchildren, some with empty nests and some with full nests. I find our groups to be a relaxing evening of talking, sharing ideas and discussing our lives through the books we have read together.  Our hosts are all gracious and gives us delicious treats and fun drinks.  

We are not the first  book group on the block but I am very proud of our duration and the dedication of our members.  I also want to give special thanks to my mentors all of them book club mavens: Rachel Kamin at NSS Beth El, Lori Sagarin at Temple Beth Israel and Rabbi Phyllis Sommer at Am Shalom.  They share their book lists,  their expertise and  their comments in person, on Goodreads and over the internet.  I can't thank them enough.  

I love books and asking everyone I know; "What is the latest book you have read?"  I love young adult books, books about Israel and even a good romance novel now and then.  Next time you see me tell me what you are reading; take a look at my Gfoodreads page and see what I am reading.  I challenged myself to read 40 books this year and I am on track to make it.  The trip to Israel will put me over the top I am sure.  What trip to about it next week.

Lakeside Book Group List:
December 2, 2011    Books we have read so far, 12-2-11:
1.    Plot Against America: Philip Roth
2.    People of the Book: Geraldine Brooks
3.    Away: Amy Bloom
4.    Rashi’s daughters: Maggi Anton
5.    Septembers of Shiraz:  Dalia Sofer
6.    To Begin Again:  Rabbi Naomi Levy 
7.    Eli Weisel’s Rashi
8.    Day after Night: Anita Diament
9.    Girl from Foreign: Sadia Shephard (Memoir)
10. All other nights: Dara Horn
11. Invisible wall: Harry Bernstein (part of a trilogy and a Memoir)
12. The Year of Living Biblically: A.J. Jacobs
13. History of Love: Nicole Krauss
14. Pigeon and a boy: Meir Shelev
15. My Father’s Paradise: Ariel Sabar  (Memoir)
16. Stations West: Allison Amend
17. 19th Wife: David Ebershoff  
18. Mr. Rosenbloom Dreams in English by Natasha Solomon
19. The Invisible Bridge: Julie Orringer 
20. The Jew Store: Stella Suberman 
21. Drawing in the Dust: Zoe Klein  
22. Dovekeeper: Alice Hoffman
23. Love and Shame and Love: Peter Orner
24. In the Garden of the Beasts: Erik Larrsen
25. Midwife of Venice: Roberta Rich
26. Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots: Deborah Feldman  
27. 2013 Hare with the Amber Eyes: Edmund De Waal
28. Home in the Morning: Mary Glickman
29. 10,00 Lovers: Edit Ravel
30. Second Person Singular: Sayed Kashua,  
31. Wayward Moon: Janice Weiszman

       32. What we talk about when we talk about Anne Frank: Nathan Englander
       33. Sweet Dates of Basra: Jessica Jiji
       34. 2014 My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Cleaner: A Family Memoir:  Meir Shelev
       35.  The List: Martin Fletcher
       36.  The Illusion of Separateness: Simon Van Booy

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Retreat at OSRUI: Good for the Soul

Human bingo
Last weekend Lakeside and Or Shalom went on their annual Fall retreat to OSRUI with 5th and 6th graders.  (Or Shalom also had an adult retreat there at the same time).  We had 32 students, 5 Madrichim and 2 Educators and we had a wonderful time.  We started Friday night with a delicious Shabbat dinner, followed by T'filot and then a fun game of Human bingo (you would be surprised by the number of students who had been to Israel and/or could do the splits) and finished with a game of Gaga.

Felt B'samim for Havdavlah
Israeli Flag in icing and marshmallows

Gaga or Ga-ga (lit. "touch-touch") is a variant of dodgeball. The game combines dodging, striking, running and jumping with the object of hitting opponents with a ball below the knee while avoiding being hit. The game can be played by groups of individual players, teams and in one-on-one matches. The game may sometimes be referred to as "Israeli dodge-ball".
Funny Songs

Shabbat morning we had a fun Torah study and continued to learn about Israel's geography with giant maps, icing, candy and an Israel Jew-pardy game.

   There was more Gaga in the afternoon and even though it rained and we had to scuttle a few outdoor activities we had a fun weekend.

Giant Map of Israel
What I really enjoy about the weekend is talking with my students and just hanging out.  I enjoy reading young adult books and we always have time on Retreat to talk about what books everyone is reading and what movies are the hottest.  There is no substitute for eating, playing, and praying together for 48 hours to be able to get to know your students as well as  the Madrichim, counselors as well. Retreat is an opportunity to encourage our High school students both of whom are applying to be Madrichim at OSRUI this summer and give them a chance to lead all types of programs including Israeli dance, a mixer, arts and crafts, Gaga and even read Torah.   I believe it is powerful for our students to see an older boy read Torah, an older girl play games, and both Israeli dance; these are the best role models possible.  

I left early on Sunday morning to come back for Religious School.  When I left the buildings were surrounded by fog and  camp had an other worldly look.  I like to think that OSRUI is in the clouds somewhere and coming back to earth is never easy.
Soreff  Center in fog on November 3