The crossroads of literature


This past month included Israel’s Shavua Hasefer – National Book Week. Groups all over the country hosted book clubs, lectures by authors, discussion groups, and book sales. Neve Schechter in Tel Aviv did not miss the opportunity to take part!!

On June 15th, three speakers taught at an evening salon, each drawing connections between religious and secular books. Dr. Gila Vachman, Director of Torah Lishma Tel Aviv and lecturer in Talmud and Midrash at the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, opened the night by comparing classic Israeli author, Shai Agnon, well known for having written in both modern and rabbinic styles, with Midrash Tanchuma. Rabbi Roberto Arbib, educational director at Neve Schechter, led a conversation about Primo Levi and the book of Ben Sira.

Mor Shimoni, who co-hosts the weekly gathering with Yuval Komem, the other community organizer, discussed Zelda, a religious and Israeli poet published from the late ’60s to the mid-’80s, and the siddur. “In the prayers,” Shimoni explained, “we have Hitkavnenut, intention- something that is present in much of Zelda’s work.”

The “Salon” is a weekly event at Neve Schechter whose goal is to create a homey environment and open discourse about a variety of subjects, bringing songs and texts to each meeting. That week’s focus was on these crossroads. The Salon provides attendees with a reciprocal learning experience, even the person “teaching” can expect to learn from the insights of a participant.

This event brought together fifteen people from across the religious spectrum in the Tel-Aviv area to share their love of literature with their spiritual side. Komem shared that it was “special to bring together religious and literary books and see how they complement each other.” Those who were present shifted their perspective on literature or religion.

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