Ahavas Israel’s Book Group News:

Wednesday, November 23, 7:00 p.m.

Barbara Rapaport, Reimagined

All her life, Barbara Rapaport had been struggling to reconcile two sides of her personality: the one who felt compelled to remain behind the scenes and the one who gave herself permission to stand in the spotlight. In this candid and emotionally true memoir, Rapaport recounts her harrowing experience battling a rare form of cancer. The story of Rapaport’s suffering as a result of her cancer surgery, and subsequent prolonged recovery, reveals that the tyranny of her physical pain wasn’t the worst of what she had to endure. Rather, it served as a smokescreen for an even greater agony – that neither of her personas, the quiet good girl nor the successful warrior deserved to live. With extraordinary self-awareness, Reimagined toggles back and forth between Rapaport’s adult cancer journey and the childhood trauma that gave rise to these false beliefs. Her story beautifully illustrates a truth many of us live with: that our childhood demons are never very far away. But with courage and fortitude we can gain the perspective necessary to acquire what’s long avoided us: radical self-acceptance.

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January 24th 10:00 a.m. on Zoom

We have been invited by Congregation of Moses to join a book group conversation on Zoom with Rabbi Dr. Haviva Ner-David on January 24th 10:00 a.m., on “Dreaming Against the Current, A Rabbi's Soul Journey.” She also wrote “Life on the Fringes” and three other book, including a novel. To receive the zoom link, register for the group at https://congregationofmoses.org/event_signup/?EID=9891.

 

Wednesday, February 15, 2023, 7:00 p.m.

Ilana Kurshan, If All The Seas Were Ink

Ilana Kurshan’s memoir is impressive for many reasons. On its face the story is about a woman — the author — and how she recovered from her divorce through daf yomi, the daily practice of studying the Talmud, which took over seven years to complete. But Kurshan’s divorce is neither the focus of her book nor the main story of her life. Rather, the book’s topics range widely, from Kurshan’s childhood to her aliyah to Israel, to parenthood. Organized in a loosely chronological fashion, it is arranged by Talmud tractates.The power of this memoir arises from the expert connections Kurshan draws between her personal story and the talmudic anecdotes.

Evident from the beginning is Kurshan’s expertise in the Talmud, rabbinic Judaism, midrash, and Jewish topics more generally. Perhaps due to the nature of daf yomi, which is less deep dive and more high-level, she strikes the right balance between explanation, detail, and depth in her retelling of talmudic stories. This is helpful because the Talmud is, frankly, complicated, and the numerous stories occasionally make the memoir a touch too dense. Fortunately, for the majority of the book, Kurshan’s skilled writing makes the stories accessible and also animates the rabbis and their debates for a modern audience.

Kurshan’s passion for the written word is a key feature of her inner self. She is not only an expert in rabbinic literature; she also weaves secular literature and poetry throughout the book. The literary quotations add emotional richness to the memoir.

Due to Kurshan’s deft explanations of Talmudic personalities and principles, even readers without a background in Jewish topics will enjoy this insightful memoir. Readers will be inspired by Kurshan’s resilience and renewal, with the Talmud by her side.