Give the gift of reading

Jewish Book Month: Oct . 26-Nov. 26, 2013

Observed for the 30 days leading up to Hanukkah, Jewish Book Month is a national celebration of Jewish books that helps promote giving Jewish books as Hanukkah gifts. Coordinated nationally by The Jewish Book Council, Jewish Book Month this year falls Oct. 26-Nov. 26. The Council prepares educational and promotional materials including bookmarks with lists of
recommended books for adults and children from the past year.

In 1925 Fanny Goldstein, a librarian at the West End Branch of the Boston Public Library, displayed Judaic books for her Jewish Book Week. In 1940, the event was moved to pre-Hanukkah to promote books as Hanukkah gifts, according to The Week was extended to a month in 1943.

At least a dozen programs are on the slate for this year’s celebration of Jewish Book Month in Portland. The Portland Jewish Book Month committee selected Philip Roth’s Nemesis for this year’s One Book, One Community program. This will be the third year the community has created a series of events centered around one book to celebrate Jewish Book Month. Roth’s 2010 book explores the 1944 polio epidemic in New Jersey and how it affected the families in the close-knit area.

In Portland Congregation Beth Israel kicks off the month immediately following the 6 pm services on Nov. 1 with a program titled “Resilience: Challenging illness and moving to a place of hope.” Social workers David Molko and Audelia de Costa will discuss portions of Roth’s Nemesis and how the people in the book reacted to the horrific polio epidemic. Learn coping
skills to live life to the fullest.

On Nov. 3 Beit Haverim Rabbi Alan Berg will lead a discussion of the book at 2:45 pm at the United Church of Christ, 1111 Country Club Road, Lake Oswego. ‘

Other programs include:

Nov. 6, 7:15 pm, “Finding Meaning in Suffering: A discussion using Melton curriculum with Erica Goldman,” at Shaarie Torah, 920 NW 25th, Portland. Nov. 12, 6:30 pm, Pageturners book discussion presented by Hillsdale Branch of Multnomah County Library and Kesser Israel, featuring kosher refreshments, at Hillsdale Library, 1525 SW Sunset, Portland.

Nov. 13, 7 pm, American Masters documentary on Philip Roth presented by the Institute for Judaic Studies and MJCC at the MJCC.

Nov. 18, 7 pm, Havurah Shalom presents “Book Review: Pestilence and Piety at Havurah,” 825 NW 18th Ave., Portland.

Nov. 19, 7 pm, Oregon Jewish Museum/Institute for Judaic Studies presents “The Construction of Immunity: Cultural Treatments of Contagious Disease” at the museum, 1953 NW Kearney, Portland. Free for members of OJM/IJS; $5 all others.

Nov. 19, 6:45 pm, Pageturners book talk at Midland Branch Library, 805 SE 122nd Ave., Portland.

Nov. 20, 7:30 pm, Neveh Shalom presents “Themes of Philip Roth’s Nemesis: A Panel Discussion on Coping with Life’s Circumstances,” 2900 SW Peaceful Lane, Portland.

Nov. 21, 7:15 pm, Author Iris Krasnow, author of Secret Lives of Wives, will speak at the Women’s Philanthropy event at the MJCC.

The month concludes Nov. 26 when Portland State University Prof. Michael Weingrad and Reed College Prof. Marat Grinberg discuss Roth’s works and show film clips. 6:30 to 8:30 pm. For location, contact Jenn Knudsen at 503-725-2305 or

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