By Monica Engel
Book Clubs are amazing and I’m fortunate to be a member of two; one for 5 years during which I have read approximately 55 books. Some were engaging and thought-provoking and others were a waste of time. I can’t remember reading any book more than once. I’ve been a member of my other book club for 25+ years and we read the same book every week. As you might have guessed, we read The Torah. What a fulfilling gift. I get to meet with 40+ members almost every week on Shabbat morning to share a nosh and wrestle with the week’s portion. The Five Books of Moses give us more fascinating topics for discussion than I ever thought possible. We don’t always agree with a particular member’s interpretation but we respect each other. Some portions are extremely painful to discuss because it’s difficult to believe that God can be cruel, i.e. the sacrifice of Abraham’s son, Isaac. In contrast, are the commandments that make us better people, i.e. acts of kindness, welcoming the stranger, preserving the land, etc.
The final Book, Deuteronomy, gives us the opportunity to reflect on the previous year. It’s a time to seek forgiveness from those we might have hurt whether intentional or not. We also have the opportunity to imagine and enforce ways to uplift others with acts of kindness which in turn rewards our self-esteem and fulfills God’s expectations and commandments. Personally, I look back with joy and gratitude. I am blessed with thoughtful supportive friends and my husband. My children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are thriving. They are good people for which I’m grateful, AND MITZVAH MEALS will begin its 9thyear!