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OZ Book Club
January 21 @ 12:15 pm - 1:45 pm
Sunday, January 21 2024 at 12:15 pm – in person at OZ in conjunction with Hebrew school (also on Zoom for those unable to attend in person)
The Unfinished Corner by Dani Colman
Jewish mythology has it that when God created the universe, one corner of it was left unfinished. Opinion is divided on why, but everyone agrees that the Unfinished Corner is a dangerous place full of monsters. Twelve-year-old Miriam neither knows nor cares about the Unfinished Corner. She’s too busy preparing for her Bat Mitzvah, wrestling with whether she even wants to be Jewish–until a peculiar angel appears, whisking her, her two best friends, and her worst frenemy off to this monstrous land with one mission: finish the Unfinished Corner.”
Thursday, February 15, 2024
Golem Girl by Riva Lehrer
In 1958, amongst the children born with spina bifida is Riva Lehrer. At the time, most such children are not expected to survive. Her parents and doctors are determined to “fix” her, sending the message over and over again that she is broken. That she will never have a job, a romantic relationship, or an independent life. Enduring countless medical interventions, Riva tries her best to be a good girl and a good patient in the quest to be cured.
Everything changes when, as an adult, Riva is invited to join a group of artists, writers, and performers who are building Disability Culture. Their work is daring, edgy, funny, and dark—it rejects tropes that define disabled people as pathetic, frightening, or worthless. They insist that disability is an opportunity for creativity and resistance. Emboldened, Riva asks if she can paint their portraits—inventing an intimate and collaborative process that will transform the way she sees herself, others, and the world. Each portrait story begins to transform the myths she’s been told her whole life about her body, her sexuality, and other measures of normal.
Thursday, March 14, 2024
The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World by Jonathan Freedland
In April 1944, Rudolf Vrba became one of the very first Jews to escape from Auschwitz and make his way to freedom—among only a tiny handful who ever pulled off that near-impossible feat. He did it to reveal the truth of the death camp to the world—and to warn the last Jews of Europe what fate awaited them. Against all odds, Vrba and his fellow escapee, Fred Wetzler, climbed mountains, crossed rivers, and narrowly missed German bullets until they had smuggled out the first full account of Auschwitz the world had ever seen—a forensically detailed report that eventually reached Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and the Pope.
Thursday, April 11, 2024
The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis
Forty years ago Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original studies undoing our assumptions about the decision-making process. Their papers showed the ways in which the human mind erred systematically when forced to make judgments about uncertain situations. Their work created the field of behavioral economics, revolutionized Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis’ own work possible. Kahneman and Tversky are more responsible than anybody for the powerful trend to mistrust human intuition and defer to algorithms.
The Undoing Project is about the fascinating collaboration between two men who have the dimensions of great literary figures. They became heroes in the university and on the battlefield – both had important careers in the Israeli military – and their research was deeply linked to their extraordinary life experiences. In the process they may well have changed for good mankind’s view of its own mind.
Thursday, May 9, 2024
My Friend Anne Frank by Hannah Pick-Goslar
In 1933, Hannah Pick-Goslar and her family fled Nazi Germany to live in Amsterdam, where she struck up a close friendship with her next-door neighbor, an outspoken and fun-loving young girl named Anne Frank. For several years, the inseparable pair enjoyed a carefree childhood of games, sleepovers, and treats with the other children in their neighborhood of Rivierenbuurt. But in 1942, Hannah and Anne’s lives abruptly changed forever. As the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam progressed, Anne and the Frank family seemingly vanished, leaving behind unmade beds and dishes in the sink—but no trace of Anne’s precious diary. Torn from her dear friend without warning, Hannah spent the next two years tormented by questions about Anne’s fate, wondering if she had, by some miracle, managed to escape danger.
In this long‑awaited memoir, Hannah shares the story of her childhood during the Holocaust, from the introduction of anti-Jewish laws in Amsterdam to the gradual disappearance of classmates and, eventually, the Frank family, to Hannah and her family’s imprisonment in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. As Hannah chronicles the experiences of her own life during and after the war, she provides a searing look at what countless children endured at the hands of the Nazi regime, as well as an intimate, never‑before‑seen portrait of the most recognizable victim of the Holocaust. Culminating in an astonishing fateful reunion, My Friend Anne Frank is the profoundly moving story of childhood and friendship during one of the darkest periods in the world’s history.
Thursday, June 13, 2024
Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride
In 1972, when workers in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, were digging the foundations for a new development, the last thing they expected to find was a skeleton at the bottom of a well. Who the skeleton was and how it got there were two of the long-held secrets kept by the residents of Chicken Hill, the dilapidated neighborhood where immigrant Jews and African Americans lived side by side and shared ambitions and sorrows. Chicken Hill was where Moshe and Chona Ludlow lived when Moshe integrated his theater and where Chona ran the Heaven & Earth Grocery Store. When the state came looking for a deaf boy to institutionalize him, it was Chona and Nate Timblin, the Black janitor at Moshe’s theater and the unofficial leader of the Black community on Chicken Hill, who worked together to keep the boy safe.
As these characters’ stories overlap and deepen, it becomes clear how much the people who live on the margins of white, Christian America struggle and what they must do to survive. When the truth is finally revealed about what happened on Chicken Hill and the part the town’s white establishment played in it, McBride shows us that even in dark times, it is love and community—heaven and earth—that sustain us.
Thursday, July 11, 2024
On the Landing by Yenta Mash
In these sixteen stories, available in English for the first time, prize-winning author Yenta Mash traces an arc across continents, across upheavals and regime changes, and across the phases of a woman’s life. Mash’s protagonists are often in transit, poised “on the landing” on their way to or from somewhere else. In imaginative, poignant, and relentlessly honest prose, translated from the Yiddish by Ellen Cassedy, Mash documents the lost world of Jewish Bessarabia, the texture of daily life behind the Iron Curtain in Soviet Moldova, and the challenges of assimilation in Israel. On the Landing opens by inviting us to join a woman making her way through her ruined hometown, recalling the colorful customs of yesteryear―and the night when everything changed. We then travel into the Soviet gulag, accompanying women prisoners into the fearsome forests of Siberia. In postwar Soviet Moldova, we see how the Jewish community rebuilds itself. On the move once more, we join refugees struggling to find their place in Israel. Finally, a late-life romance brings a blossoming of joy. Drawing on a lifetime of repeated uprooting, Mash offers an intimate perch from which to explore little-known corners of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. A master chronicler of exile, she makes a major contribution to the literature of immigration and resilience, adding her voice to those of Jhumpa Lahiri, W. G. Sebald, André Aciman, and Viet Thanh Nguyen. Mash’s literary oeuvre is a brave achievement, and her work is urgently relevant today as displaced people seek refuge across the globe.
Thursday, August 8, 2024
The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • The first of a two-volume masterpiece, The Passenger series, from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Road • The story of a salvage diver, haunted by loss, afraid of the watery deep, pursued for a conspiracy beyond his understanding, and longing for a death he cannot reconcile with God.
Thursday, September 12, 2024
Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books by Aaron Lansky
In 1980, a twenty-three-year-old student named Aaron Lansky set out to rescue the world’s abandoned Yiddish books before it was too late. Twenty-five years and one and a half million books later, he’s still in the midst of a great adventure. Filled with poignant and often laugh-out-loud tales from Lansky’s travels across the country as he collected books from older Jewish immigrants—books their own children had no use for—Outwitting History also explores brilliant Yiddish writers and enables us to see how an almost-lost culture is the bridge between the Old World and the future.
Thursday, October 10, 2024
Artificial: A Love Story by Amy Kurzweil
How do we relate to—and hold—our family’s past? Is it through technology? Through spirit? Art, poetry, music? Or is it through the resonances we look for in ourselves?
In Artificial, we meet the Kurzweils, a family of creators who are preserving their history through unusual means. At the center is renowned inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who has long been saving the documents of his deceased father, Fredric, an accomplished conductor and pianist from Vienna who fled the Nazis in 1938.
Thursday, November 14, 2024
Falling Through the Night by Gail Marlene Schwartz
Audrey Meyerwitz wants to fall in love and have a family. But for this queer 30-something insomniac who’s struggled with Generalized Anxiety Disorder since childhood, it’s a goal that’s far from simple. When best friend Jessica, a recovering alcoholic, helps introvert Audrey with a profile on SheLovesHer, Audrey takes that scary first step toward her lifelong dream. Through online dating, immigrating to Canada, and having a baby with Down Syndrome, she struggles and grows. But when Audrey unearths a secret about her mother, everything about her identity as a mother, a daughter, and a person with mental illness ruptures. How do we create closeness from roots of deep alienation? With humor, honesty, and complexity, Audrey learns that healthy love means accepting gains and losses, taking off the blinders of fantasy, and embracing the messiness that defines human families.
Thursday, December 12, 2024
When I Grow Up: The Lost Autobiographies of Six Yiddish Teenagers by Ken Krimstein
When I Grow Up is New Yorker cartoonist Ken Krimstein’s new graphic nonfiction book, based on six of hundreds of newly discovered, never-before-published autobiographies of Eastern European Jewish teens on the brink of WWII―found in 2017 hidden in a Lithuanian church cellar.
These autobiographies, long thought destroyed by the Nazis, were written as entries for three competitions held in Eastern Europe in the 1930s, just before the horror of the Holocaust forever altered the lives of the young people who wrote them.
In When I Grow Up, Krimstein shows us the stories of these six young men and women in riveting, almost cinematic narratives, full of humor, yearning, ambition, and all the angst of the teenage years. It’s as if half a dozen new Anne Frank stories have suddenly come to light, framed by the dramatic story of the documents’ rediscovery.