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Book Club – Celebrates 45 Years

7.1 Celebrating their 45th year . . .Herzliya Ladies’ Book Club members line up

Sometime back in the late 70's, in Herzliya, a group of young mothers from England, South Africa and the US craved a night out and a chance to talk about something other than children. And thus our Book Club was born. Once a month, at 9pm, after the kids were tucked into bed (and husbands were home to watch them) we met, each month at a different member's home, to discuss the book we had all read. Snacks were light, laughter was rife.

In those days, getting multiple copies of good books in English was a challenge. Libraries and secondhand book shops had limited English book sections and even the bookstores rarely had multiple copies. We resorted, often, to reading some books just because we could find several copies. We forced ourselves to read fast so that we could pass our book on to the next in line. But we managed, and we read a huge selection of wonderful books.

Over the years we've read hundreds of books, mostly literature, with a light sprinkling of non-fiction, biography, memoirs and even science fiction. We try to choose books that at least one and preferably two members have read and recommended. Our preference is for literary fiction, including at least one classic and one Israeli author each year. We get recommendations from friends, from other book clubs, we pore over online reviews, and just read a lot. At each meeting, one member of the group acts as the facilitator and uses any technique she prefers to stimulate discussion. Some discussions go on for a long time; others die quickly and we end up chatting more than talking about literature. All the while we sit around the hostess's dining room table enjoying good wine, a delicious meal and dessert. Of course, we exchange recipes! Our faithful secretary, Sally, takes copious notes (which we all look forward to reading) of what went on and what we plan to read in the coming months.

We have had some unusual and very interesting meetings as well. We once spent the night at a member's home in the north and took a spin out on the Kinneret in the family boat, and speaking of boats, we had a cozy meeting on a member's yacht in the Tel Aviv Marina. We studied Virginia Woolf, Etgar Keret, Kafka and Faulkner with a Tel Aviv university professor, heard A.B. Yehoshua speak in English about his novel Journey to the End of the Millennium, went to see dramatizations and movie versions of other books, took a literary tour in the footsteps of Amos Oz in Jerusalem, and enjoyed an overnight at a hotel in Jaffa where we were joined by Frankie Cronin, one of the founding members of the Book Club. We donned our specially designed Cooks and Books aprons, did ChiGong, shared family histories and photos, and visited the flea market. More recently we enjoyed a very interesting Skype call with the author of a popular book.

There are certainly a few group favorites including: A Gentleman in Moscow, The Wild Swans, A Tale of Love and Darkness, Everything Is Illuminated, The God of Small Things, An Officer and A Spy, Let the Great World Spin, All the Light We Cannot See, Where the Crawdads Sing, and even Anna Karenina.

We are an eclectic group of 13 mostly retired women who, except for two, made aliyah from various parts of the world: Tammy Kolberg - rabbi and grief counselor; Sally Esakov and Rochelle Singer - technical and marketing writers; Carol Jassby and Joyce Friedler - teachers; Sharyn Weizman - teacher and technical writer; Sue Eitan - pharmacist; Dennie Ravid - registered nurse educator and quilter; Beth Erez - marketing executive and artist; Edie Boxman - senior bank executive and LaLeche League executive; Frida Steiner - architect and interior designer; Ruth Musael - librarian; and Heidi Praff Schrier - artist and art teacher. We share each other's joys (from weddings to grandchildren) and sadness (losing parents, illnesses and the death of one of our members, Barbara Lyons). We feel very close to each other and blessed to be part of such a special group.

Somewhere along the line we went from serving coffee and cake to preparing gourmet dinners – from soup to nuts. The never-ending requests for sharing recipes gave birth to the idea of a cookbook …. one that incorporates dishes we've made, photographed and served. Our Books and Cooks team first selected and edited our recipes and then uploaded them along with photos to create our beautiful, illustrated Lupa cookbook - even the cover was designed by one of the members. It was a labor of love: a compilation and a tribute to our years of friendship, love of literature and passion for fine food.

Today our love of good food and good books continues. We connect on WhatsApp and share good news, birthday wishes, funnies and photos, we read many books on Kindle, and listen to books on Audible. And now, during the time of the menacing coronavirus, we're using Zoom to discuss books and choose future selections - while we wait anxiously for the time when we can meet in person again, in the lovely comfort of each other's homes.

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Thursday, 18 July 2024

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