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Kripke Jewish Federation Library

 » Dorothy Kaplan Book Discussion Group

The Dorothy Kaplan Book Discussion Group

November 15, 1979 marked the debut of the Jewish Federation Library Book discussion group (renamed the Dorothy Kaplan Book Discussion Group). A team of dedicated women, including late "Library Diva" Dorothy Kaplan, were intent on beginning a book club at the Library. Their goal was to select books with Jewish content and/or authors which they hoped would appeal to women of different ages and taste. With the diversity of topics - everything from poetry and mysteries to science fiction and biographies – and guest facilitators, the Dorothy Kaplan Book Discussion Group offers something for everyone!  You are welcome to join.  There is no cost and there is always an insightful exchange of observations. 

The group meets on the third Thursday of each month from 1-2 pm in the Kripke Jewish Federation Library.  Contact Library Specialist, Shirly Banner, at


October 21, 2021

"lucky broken girl"
By ruth behar

In this unforgettable multicultural coming-of-age narrative—based on the author’s childhood in the 1960s—a young Cuban-Jewish immigrant girl is adjusting to her new life in New York City when her American dream is suddenly derailed. Ruthie’s plight will intrigue readers, and her powerful story of strength and resilience, full of color, light, and poignancy, will stay with them for a long time.

Ruthie Mizrahi and her family recently emigrated from Castro’s Cuba to New York City. Just when she’s finally beginning to gain confidence in her mastery of English—and enjoying her reign as her neighborhood’s hopscotch queen—a horrific car accident leaves her in a body cast and confined her to her bed for a long recovery. As Ruthie’s world shrinks because of her inability to move, her powers of observation and her heart grow larger and she comes to understand how fragile life is, how vulnerable we all are as human beings, and how friends, neighbors, and the power of the arts can sweeten even the worst of times.

In observance of the High Holidays, the book group will not meet in September.

The next meeting will be October 21.

January 21, 2021

"the Lake On fire"

by rosellen brown

 "The Lake on Fire" is an epic narrative that begins among 19th century Jewish immigrants on a failing Wisconsin farm. Dazzled by lore of the American dream, Chaya and her strange, brilliant, young brother Asher stow away to Chicago; what they discover there, however, is a Gilded Age that is an empty façade as the beautiful Columbian Exposition lures thousands to Lake Michigan’s shore. The pair scrapes together a meager living Chaya in a cigar factory; Asher, roaming the city and stealing books and jewelry to share with the poor, until they find different paths of escape. An examination of family, love, and revolution, this profound tale resonates eerily with today’s current events and tumultuous social landscape. The Lake on Fire is robust, gleaming, and grimy all at once, proving that celebrated author Rosellen Brown is back with a story as luminous as ever.

february 18, 2021

"after i'm Gone"

by Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman, the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of The Most Dangerous Thing, I’d Know You Anywhere, and What the Dead Know, returns with an addictive story that explores how one man’s disappearance echoes through the lives of the wife, mistress, and daughters he left behind.

March 18, 2021


by Rebecca Goldstein

Mazel means luck in Yiddish, and luck is the guiding force in this magical and mesmerizing novel that spans three generations. Sasha Saunders is the daughter of a Polish rabbi who abandons the shtetl and wins renown as a Yiddish actress in Warsaw and New York. Her daughter Chloe becomes a professor of classics at Columbia. Chloe’s daughter Phoebe grows up to become a mathematician who is drawn to traditional Judaism and the sort of domestic life her mother and grandmother rejected.

April 15, 2021

"The Next Best Thing"
By Jennifer Weiner

At three years old, Ruth Saunders miraculously survives the car crash that takes her parents’ lives on the icy Massachusetts Turnpike. Her eccentric grandmother comes out of Florida retirement to nurture young Ruth through her years of surgeries, feeding her home-cooked meals, dispensing irreverent wisdom and reassuring Ruth that she’s beautiful, scars and all. After college, Ruth pursues her dream of writing by heading west to Hollywood with her grandmother, hoping to make it big in the world of TV. After years of failure, Ruth gets "The Call"—her show has been green-lit. But this one happy ending is only the beginning, as she learns the terrifying nature of how television gets made...

May 20, 2021
"The Extra"
By A.B. Yehoshua

Noga, forty-two and divorced, is a harpist with an orchestra in the Netherlands. Upon the sudden death of her father, she is summoned home to Jerusalem by her brother to help make decisions in urgent family and personal matters. Returning also means facing a former husband who left her when she refused him children, but whose passion for her remains even though he is remarried and the father of two.

june 17, 2021
"black, white and jewish:
an autobiography
of a shifting self"
By Rebecca Walker

Noga, forty-two and divorced, is a harpist with an orchestra in the Netherlands. Upon the sudden death of her father, she is summoned home to Jerusalem by her brother to help make decisions in urgent family and personal matters. Returning also means facing a former husband who left her when she refused him children, but whose passion for her remains even though he is remarried and the father of two.

July 15, 2021
"second person singular "
By Sayed Kashua

Second Person Singular follows two men, the first, a successful Arab criminal attorney and the second, a social worker-turned-artist, whose lives intersect under the most curious of circumstances. On one fateful evening, the lawyer decides to buy a used copy of Tolstoy's The Kreutzer Sonata, a book his wife once recommended. To his surprise, inside he finds a small white note, a love letter, in Arabic, in her handwriting. I waited for you, but you didn't come. I hope everything's all right. I wanted to thank you for last night. It was wonderful. Call me tomorrow?

Consumed with suspicion and jealousy, the lawyer slips into a blind rage over the presumed betrayal. He decides to hunt for the book's previous owner—a man named Yonatan, a man who is not easy to track down, whose identity is more complex than imagined, and whose life is more closely aligned with his own than expected.

August 19, 2021

"marjorie morningstar"
By herman wouk

A starry-eyed young beauty, Marjorie Morgenstern is nineteen years old when she leaves home to accept the job of her dreams--working in a summer-stock company for Noel Airman, its talented and intensely charismatic director. Released from the social constraints of her traditional Jewish family, and thrown into the glorious, colorful world of theater, Marjorie finds herself entangled in a powerful affair with the man destined to become the greatest--and the most destructive--love of her life.

History of Book Selections

Selections For 2020

January 16, 2020
"Henna House" by Noami Eve

This saga begins in Yemen in 1920. Adela Damari’s parents’ health is failing as they desperately seek a future husband for their young daughter, who is in danger of becoming adopted by the local Muslim community if she is orphaned. With no likely marriage prospects, Adela’s situation looks dire—until she meets two cousins from faraway cities…

February 20, 2020
"The Two-Family House" by Lynda Cohen Loigman
Lynda Cohen Loigman opens her debut novel by introducing Abe and Helen, Mort and Rose - two brothers and their wives who are living happily together in a Brooklyn brownstone. Abe and Helen have four sons; Mort and Rose have three daughters. When Helen and Rose discover that they are pregnant at the same time, each woman secretly hopes that this last pregnancy will produce the elusive boy or girl they had been hoping for…

April 23, 2020
"Seven Blessings: A Novel" by Ruchama King Reuerman
The closed, secret world of matchmaking in contemporary Israel provides the titillating pivot for a story of uncommon proportions. In Ruchama King's skillful hands, Seven Blessings maps out the complicated lives of five expatriate women and men whose search for a soul mate, in many ways, mirrors their search for God.

May 21, 2020
"Murder Wears Mittens" by Sally Goldenbaum
As autumn washes over coastal Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, the Seaside Knitters anticipate a relaxing off-season. But when murder shatters the peace, the craftiest bunch in town must unravel a killer’s deadly scheme...

June 18, 2020
"Motherless Brooklyn" by Jonathan Lethem
Brooklyn's very own self-appointed Human Freakshow, Lionel Essrog is an orphan whose Tourettic impulses drive him to bark, count, and rip apart our language in startling and original ways. Together with three veterans of the St. Vincent's Home for Boys, he works for small-time mobster Frank Minna's limo service cum detective agency. Life without Frank Minna, the charismatic King of Brooklyn, would be unimaginable, so who cares if the tasks he sets them are, well, not exactly legal. But when Frank is fatally stabbed…

July 16, 2020
"15 Seconds" by Andrew Gross
Henry Steadman is a successful Florida plastic surgeon on his way to deliver a keynote address at a conference when his world falls apart. Stopped by the police for a minor traffic violation, the situation escalates and he is pulled from his vehicle, handcuffed, and told he is under arrest. Several other police cars arrive and the questioning turns scary, but after it subsides, and Henry is about to move on, the officer is suddenly killed in his car and there is only one suspect: the very person he was about to arrest not ten minutes before. Henry!

August 20, 2020
"Between Gods: A Memoir" by Alison Pick
In this powerful memoir, bestselling author Alison Pick, channels Karen Armstrong and Anne Lamott as she explains the shocking family secret that eventually led to her mid-life conversion to Judaism—exploring powerful, provocative questions about family, faith, and the burdens of inheritance.

September 17, 2020
"Hershon's Folly" by Rachel Schultz
Narrated by various characters and shifting between historical events, political argument, and magic realism, Hershon's Folly, is a family saga set in rural South Africa during the 1950s when white nationalists were in power. It shows the loving bond between an outsider father, a Russian Jewish Refugee, and his South African born daughter, and how together they deal with poverty, Apartheid and anti-Semitism. A secondary character, a black outcast, befriends the young girl. During their conversations, we learn about Bantu beliefs and mythology.

October 15, 2020
"The Rabbi's Daughter" by Reva Mann
In this memoir, Reva Mann paints a portrait of herself as a young woman on the edge—of either revelation or self-destruction. The daughter of a highly respected London rabbi, Reva was a wild child, spiraling into a whirlwind of sex and drugs by the time she reached adolescence. But as a young woman, Reva had a startling mystical epiphany that led her to a women’s yeshivah in Israel, and eventually to marriage to the devoutly religious Torah scholar she thought would take her to ever greater heights of spirituality. But can the path to spiritual fulfillment ever be compatible with the ecstasies of the flesh or with the everyday joys of intimacy and pleasure to which she is also strongly drawn?

November 19, 2020
"The Immoralists" by Chloe Benjamin
If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life? It's 1969 in New York City's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children--four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness--sneak out to hear their fortunes.

December 17, 2020
"The German Girl" by Armando Luca Correa
Berlin, 1939. Before everything changed, Hannah Rosenthal lived a charmed life. But now the streets of Berlin are draped in ominous flags; her family’s fine possessions are hauled away; and they are no longer welcome in the places they once considered home. A glimmer of hope appears in the shape of the St. Louis, a transatlantic ocean liner promising Jews safe passage to Cuba. At first, the liner feels like a luxury, but as they travel, the circumstances of war change, and the ship that was to be their salvation seems likely to become their doom. New York, 2014. On her twelfth birthday, Anna Rosen receives a mysterious package from an unknown relative in Cuba, her great-aunt Hannah. Its contents inspire Anna and her mother to travel to Havana to learn the truth about their family’s mysterious and tragic past.

Selections For 2019

January: "The Heist" by Daniel Silva
Gabriel Allon, art restorer and occasional spy, searches for a stolen masterpiece by Caravaggio in #1 New York Times bestselling author Daniel Silva’s latest action-packed tale of high stakes international intrigue. Sometimes the best way to find a stolen masterpiece is to steal another one . .

February: "A Cup of Tea" by Amy Ephron
Rosemary Fell was born into privilege. She has wealth, well–connected friends, and a handsome fiancé, Philip Alsop. Finally she has everything she wants, until...

March: "After Anatevka: A Novel Inspired by 'Fiddler on the Roof'" by Alexandra Silber
Omaha Jewish Book Month Luncheon
Alexandra Silber was the featured speaker. Her recently completed novel written in the grand tradition of Russian literature continues the story from where Fiddler on the Roof ends.

April: "Nemesis" by Philip Roth
Nemesis follows the angst and dilemma faced by the protagonist Eugene (Bucky) Cantor, starting in the summer of 1944 in Newark, New Jersey. Bucky is the playground director for a summer fitness program in a predominately-Jewish neighborhood when an outbreak of polio spreads throughout the city.

June: "Almost Family" by Roy Hoffman
Hoffman’s novel explores the relationship between black housekeeper Nebraska Waters and Jewish homemaker Vivian Gold over a 30-year span. In Vivian’s Alabama kitchen, they share cups of coffee, discuss the joys and anguishes of their children, and evolve with the changes of the civil rights movement.

July: "Scenes from Village Life" by Amos Oz
Set in the fictional Israeli village of Tel Ilan, Scenes From Village Life is a dark broody book which offers insight into the lives of eight different residents of the village through eight short stories.

August: "Fortune's Daughter" by Alice Hoffman
Fortune’s Daughter is a tribute to the philosophical mysteries surrounding childbirth and motherhood. Alice Hoffman’s book is a tale of searching and discovering for its main characters Rae Perry and Lila Grey.

September: "The Devil In Jerusalem" by Naomi Ragen
The Devil in Jerusalem is an intriguing book based on true events that examines many issues, but foremost an issue of cults. The cult of Ragen’s work is not a typical cult but rather one that revolves around the mystical world of Kabbalah.

October: "On the Basis of Sex" Film
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a struggling attorney and new mother who faces adversity and numerous obstacles in her fight for equal rights. When Ruth takes on a groundbreaking tax case with her husband, attorney Martin Ginsburg, she knows it could change the direction of her career and the way the courts view gender discrimination.

November: "The Atomic City Girls" by Janet Beard
In the bestselling tradition of Hidden Figures and The Wives of Los Alamos, comes this riveting novel of the everyday people who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II.
“What you see here, what you hear here, what you do here, let it stay here.”

December: "The Floating Feldmans" by Elyssa Friedland
Omaha Jewish Book Month Luncheon
Elyssa Friedland is the author of three novels, The Floating Feldmans, The Intermission, and Love and Miss Communication. She attended Yale University, where she served as managing editor of the Yale Daily News, and is a graduate of Columbia Law School. She worked as an associate at a major firm before turning to writing full-time. Recently, Elyssa has written for The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, POPSUGAR, and Bustle. Prior to law school, Elyssa wrote for several publications, including Modern Bride, New York magazine, Columbia Journalism Review, CBS, Yale Alumni Magazine, and Your Prom. Elyssa grew up in New Jersey and currently lives in New York City with her husband and three young children.

At this year's Jewish Author Luncheon, Elyssa featured The Floating Feldmans in her address. As her most recent work, The Floating Feldmans was a People Magazine “People Pick” and was praised by Cosmopolitan, Bustle, Good Housekeeping, National Geographic, Woman’s Day, Woman’s World, Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist and more. Friedman’s website summarizes the book in the following way:
Sink or swim." Or at least that’s what Annette Feldman tells herself when she books a cruise for her entire family. It’s been over a decade since the Feldman clan has spent more than twenty-four hours under the same roof, but Annette is determined to celebrate her seventieth birthday the right way. Just this once, they are going to behave like an actual family.

Too bad her kids didn’t get the memo.

Selections for 2018 click here.
Selections for 2017 click here.
Selections for 2016 click here.
Selections for 2015 click here.