Select Page

12.12.14 Issue

by Mark Kirchhoff, Center for Jewish Life

Thursday, Dec. 19 at 1 p.m. in the Kripke Jewish Federation Library, Dr. Moshe Gershovich will lead the Dorothy Kaplan Book Discussion Group as they examine the work of Andrée Aelion Brooks in the book, The Woman Who Defied Kings: The Life and Times of Doña Gracia Nasi.

Dr. Gershovich is Professor of History at UNO, specializing in Middle East History, and serves as the Director of the Natan and Hannah Schwalb Center for Israel and Jewish Studies.

The Woman Who Defied Kings was first published in June of 2002. It has been described in “goodreads” as “the first modern, comprehensive biography of Doña Gracia Nasi, an outstanding Jewish international banker during the Renaissance.” As a woman of considerable wealth and connections, she operated an underground railroad that saved hundreds of her fellow Spanish and Portuguese “conversos” (Jews who had been forced to convert to Catholicism) from the horrors of the Inquisition. The book relates her continuing negotiations with kings and emperors for better conditions for her people. She led a boycott of the Italian port of Ancona in retaliation for the burning of 23 of her people through the Inquisition. She spearheaded one of the earliest attempts to start an independent state for Jews. Her life is one that shatters the stereotype of how women, and most especially Jewish women, conducted their lives during the Renaissance period.

The Dorothy Kaplan Book Discussion Group debuted Nov. 15, 1979 as the “Jewish Federation Library Book Discussion Group” to be later renamed in honor of Dorothy Kaplan, recognized for her devotion to the library and in engaging people in discussing interesting Jewish books, poetry and videos. The group meets on the third Thursday of each month from 1-2 p.m. in the Kripke Jewish Federation Library. All sessions are open to the community free of charge. Contact Library Specialist Shirly Banner at 402.334.6462 or with questions, including information regarding upcoming book selections.

The Dorothy Kaplan Book Discussion Group is supported by the Center for Jewish Life, whose mission is to maximize involvement of Omaha’s Jewish community in imaginative, compelling and meaningful Jewish experiences.