Friday, June 29, 2012

Book Club: Dovekeepers With Guest Speaker

Our book club, 4B's Brigade better known as Beach Babes Book Brigade has been planning a book event with Rabbi Debbie Slavitt.  Her expertise is in biblical  history, and the bible.

  Rabbi Debbie is a member of  Temple Beth Elohim and , Temple Emanu-el, in Myrtle Beach. She is retired, and now teaches at a local university, a professor of religious studies.

Rabbi Debbie is a reform rabbi, most of the women, as well as the men from Temple Emanu-el, and Temple Beth Elohim love to come to events when Rabbi Debbie is the guest speaker.

I got this idea in my head last fall, after the release of Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman was released. I thought what a great way to get the Jewish community of readers of the Grand Strand together to talk about one book.  It would be of course a smaller scale than up north.
 Rabbi Debbie was excited as well as myself to do this.

When our book club, 4B's Brigade was forming we decided this would be a nice idea and a great way to get others to come together to discuss one book.  We had our book event this past Monday.

I have already written my review on my Jewish book blog. If you want the synopsis and my thoughts you can go to my blog. I will tell you this is women's fiction. There is Alice Hoffman's trademark, of magic and spells, women connection, and friendship, with strong women and men characters as well.

We opened up the book event to anyone by word of mouth and from emails from the two temples.
We had 20 people come to our book club. We opened it up to everyone. We had one brave soul that was from the male persuasion that also attended. 

Dovekeepers, is biblical historical fiction.  The novel, is a awesome book to discuss with book clubs, especially women.  The book ties in with the history of the Jerusalem Revolt, and the last stand of the Jewish people before 900 people were killed by their own hands, by suicide. The story is based on the account of a Jewish, Roman soldier, named Josephus.

Here are a few things she said, that I thought were interesting.  First she said, that there wasn't much proof  of how many Jews were killed.  There are remnants of bodies. But, only a few bodies ever showed up.  What excavation has dug up doesn't add up to be Jewish artifacts. Artifacts showed up, but did not make sense, to be at Masada, such as pigskins were found.   She thinks that Josephus had a certain agenda. She thought and other scholars that Josephus made up a number, of 900. This looked good for political propaganda.

One thing I did not realize, Masada was not the only fortress. There was another one in the north. I don't recall the name.  Where these people were zealots too, and held out for a time, and committed suicide.  She thought maybe he was combining the two places and for he's own gain was more.

The other thing I found interesting, King Herod built Masada. The place was actually smaller than you think.  There is plenty of cisterns, and waterfalls, and it was primary real estate. This was the highway between Rome and Jerusalem for trade. 

I feel Rabbi Debbie enriched, and enhanced the story. She filled in the blanks about life in Judea and Jerusalem for Jews. Conflicts of Roman vs. Jew, Jewish Man vs. Jewish women, Religion vs. Secular,  Jewish Priests vs. Roman, and Jew, traditions of Judaism from old traditions to new traditions, and politics that went on.

I was born a Askenzi Jew( Jews from Europe) I was brought up not on Jewish folklore, magic, and spells.  I was brought up in traditions, and religion of Judiasm, not on old folktales.

  I moved to Myrtle Beach, our Rabbi Avi from Temple Emanu-el, is Israeli. I did not have any knowledge of the culture of Israeli Jews( Sephardic Jews) till I met Rabbi Avi, and going to Jewish events by Sephardic Jews. 

This is where I saw amulets, folktales, and spells. This is when I realized there is much more to learn about the culture of the Jewish people. I am embarrassed because I thought I knew everything.

 My eyes opened.  What I thought was interesting, is magic is a form of control. You can control what happens by magic. But religion controls you. Interesting aspect. Never thought about it that way.

The temple in Jerusalem was not like a synagogue we know today. It was only used for sacrifices.  Prayer only began, after the second temple fell.  

Coming into the book, Dovekeepers. The doves were kept in a dovecote. They were sacred, and kept for sacrifices.  

One of the women in the story, was said to be a kept women by the Jewish priests. What I found interesting was what they were called was from the Jewish root word Kadosh, meaning holy, or separate.  Rabbi Debbie was telling us, that most likely this was more of made up tales, that sounded interesting, and magical, and witchery, and great story telling, but was not true.  I thought to myself what a scandal that would cause, and debate in Judiasm. Great another contradiction.

The thing that I was upset about, I became sick the day before the event. Ended up in the hospital. I was not expecting to attend.  I got a break, I was able to go home. But, I was still late, and not prepared to discuss the book. The notes were at home, and not prepared.  I was discharged later than expected.

 Oh well, best made plains by Mice and Men!! There was so much to discuss, if I did not leave my notes home.  I am sure there was a lot more to re-cap, but I was not prepared.

On another note, the book event was successful.  We had talked about doing this yearly. Not sure what to call it.  If it is not about books, then a Jewish woman's topic we can discuss.  Till next time.

1 comment:

Janice said...

Interesting book. Sharing my link to pictures of Masada.