B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation continues its popular “Synagogue Scholars” series with a book discussion by University at Albany Professor Martha Rozett of Days of Awe by Achy Obejas.
Rozett will lead the conversation immediately following the congregation’s Friday, January 29, Shabbat service. The service and program, open to all who wish to worship and learn, begin at 8 p.m. B’nai Sholom is located at 420 Whitehall Road, Albany, New York.
Set partly in Cuba and partly in Chicago, Days of Awe explores issues of religious and cross-cultural identity. The Cuban-American narrator is a young woman named Alejandra San Jose, born on the day Fidel Castro assumed control of Cuba, January 1, 1959. She travels to Cuba in 1987 in the course of her work as a professional translator and begins a process of self-discovery that takes her back through the history of the San José family and of Cuba and its Jewish community as well. The novel comes together in an intricate mingling of times and places, with a contemporary love story, the reconstruction of history and the uncovering of secrets interwoven throughout.
Rozett’s own most recent work is When People Wrote Letters: A Family Chronicle (The Troy Book Makers, 2011), a story told through family letters and autobiographies about the travels and careers of her mother and great aunt and about a romance threatened by the differences between New England Episcopalians and New York Jews. A Shakespeare scholar, she authored Constructing a World: Shakespeare’s England and the New Historical Fiction, a look at the way historical novelists challenge our assumptions about the past, and Talking Back to Shakespeare, which examined the way Shakespeare’s plays have been appropriated and transformed. Rozett is a professor of English at UAlbany with an affiliate appointment in Judaic studies. She frequently teaches contemporary historical fiction, including fiction on the history of the Jews, and lectures in the community at Bethlehem Institute for Lifelong Learning and at the Albany Public Library. Rozett holds a doctorate in English from the University of Michigan.
Begun in 2004, the “Synagogue Scholars” series spotlights B’nai Sholom congregants who are recognized scholars in their fields. Future lectures include:
• Friday, March 11 – A presentation by David Liebschutz, public service professor at UAlbany’s Rockefeller College and principal of DSLeadership LLC, on “What We Can Learn About Leadership from our Jewish Tradition.”
Founded in 1971, B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany is a home for contemporary Reform Judaism in the Capital Region. Nearly 130 diverse households from eight counties seek religious, educational and social fulfillment at B’nai Sholom. For information about B’nai Sholom and the benefits of belonging, visit www.bnaisholomalbany.org or contact the B’nai Sholom office at 518-482-5283 or firstname.lastname@example.org.