BJ Literary Series

Inspiring authors of books with Jewish historical themes will be speaking at Beth Jacob this spring in a 3-book series.  Each talk and/or slide show will include a light supper of salad, bread and cheese and something else.

6-7:30  pm Come to one or all. Free and open to the public.


Sunday, May 6, 2018 - Jack Mayer is a Vermont writer and pediatrician.  His was the first pediatric practice in Eastern Franklin County, on the Canadian border, where he began writing essays, poems and short stories about his practice and hiking Vermont’s Long Trail.  From 1987 – 1991 Dr. Mayer was a National Cancer Institute Fellow at Columbia University researching the molecular biology of cancer. Dr. Mayer established Rainbow Pediatrics in Middlebury, Vermont in 1991 where he continues to practice primary care pediatrics.  He is an Instructor in Pediatrics at the University of Vermont School of Medicine and an adjunct faculty for pre-medical students at Middlebury College. He was a participant at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 2003 and 2005 (fiction) and 2008 (poetry). His first non-fiction book is Life In A Jar: The Irena Sendler Project. His new book, Before The Court Of Heaven, is historical fiction and has received 13 book awards.

Based on the true story of Ernst Techow, a fascist assassin complicit in the 1922 murder of the highest-ranking Jew in Weimar Germany, Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau, Before The Court Of Heaven is inspired by the history of how Germany’s Weimar democracy became the Nazi dictatorship – a cautionary tale for today.  A vivid history of Germany from the beginning of the 20th Century to World War II and a tender love story. On trial for his life, Techow receives an unfathomable offer of forgiveness that sets him on a complex and harrowing journey of redemption. Scholars of history and the Holocaust have vetted Before The Court Of Heaven for historical accuracy.

“. . echoes of Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago . . .  excellent novel of the turbulent times between World Wars I and II.” Recommended, US Review of Books


Sunday, June 10, 2018-  Joyce Antler is the Samuel Lane Professor of American Jewish History and Culture at Brandeis University, where she teaches in the American Studies Department and the Women’s Studies Program. Her works in women’s history include The Journey Home: How Jewish Women Shaped Modern America and Lucy Sprague Mitchell: The Making of A Modern Woman. Her new book is about Jewish women in the 1970s women’s movement and how they felt their Jewishness contributed to their activism. Jewish Radical Feminism: Voices From the Women’s Liberation Movement.  Joyce is a noted historian of the modern American-Jewish experience.  Her book also features, among others, Plainfield resident and Beth Jacob member, MJ Clark.  From the publisher “Jewish women were undeniably instrumental in shaping the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Yet historians and participants themselves have overlooked their contributions as Jews. This has left many vital questions unasked and unanswered—until now. Delving into archival sources and conducting extensive interviews with these fierce pioneers, Joyce Antler has at last broken the silence about the confluence of feminism and Jewish identity.

Antler’s exhilarating new book features dozens of compelling biographical narratives that reveal the struggles and achievements of Jewish radical feminists in Chicago, New York and Boston, as well as those who participated in the later, self-consciously identified Jewish feminist movement that fought gender inequities in Jewish religious and secular life. Disproportionately represented in the movement, Jewish women’s liberationists helped to provide theories and models for radical action that were used throughout the United States and abroad. Their articles and books became classics of the movement and led to new initiatives in academia, politics, and grassroots organizing. Other Jewish-identified feminists brought the women’s movement to the Jewish mainstream and Jewish feminism to the Left.  For many of these women, feminism in fact served as a “portal” into Judaism.

"Joyce Antler offers us a new understanding of the struggles, themes, accomplishments, and failures of my generation. It's a remarkable synthesis of landmark moments in late-20th Century Jewish feminism and an important contribution to the history of women."

—Letty Cottin Pogrebin, author and co-founder of Ms. Magazine

"This is an utterly absorbing and valuable book.  Having the insight and courage to probe many questions unasked before, and not trying to press the answers into a simple story or a single model, Antler succeeds beautifully in illuminating the underrecognized ways in which feminist convictions have been related to Jewishness. Her oral interviews with scores of women having differing levels of Jewish attachment provide the book’s mainspring, and supply original perspectives on matters from the 1960s New Left to the 1980s World Conferences on Women."

—Nancy F. Cott, author of The Grounding of Modern Feminism