TC Sisterhood to hold book talk on Jan. 26

Rabbi Rachel Esserman will discuss three books at the annual Temple Concord Sisterhood book talk on Sunday, January 26, at 11 am, at Temple Concord, 9 Riverside Dr., Binghamton. The snow date is Sunday, February 2. The program is open to the public. A brunch will be served at a cost of $3 for Sisterhood members and $5 for non-members. Reservations must be made by Wednesday, January 22, to Phyllis Kellenberger at pweinste@sntny.rr.com, 723-2193 or 727-8305.
The books to be reviewed are “The Heart of the Circle” by Israeli author Keren Landsman, “From a Sealed Room” by award-winning author Rachel Kadish, and “The Flight Portfolio” by Julie Orringer.
Esserman said, “I’m again looking forward to reading the books for what is one of my favorite events of the year. I deliberately choose books with different themes and plots in order to make the review more interesting. Two of the books – ‘The Heart of the Circle’ and ‘The Flight Portfolio’ – were published in 2019. Rachel Kadish’s novel is older, but I’ve been meaning to read it for years since I loved her second and third novels. Lovers of urban fantasy will be happy to note that I’ve included one by an Israeli author, Keren Landsman, and, as a fan of Julie Orringer’s first novel, ‘The Invisible Bridge,’ I’m really looking forward to reading her second one.”
“The Heart of the Circle” is Israeli author Landsman’s first work to be translated into English. The premise of this fantasy novel is that “throughout human history, there have always been sorcerers, once idolized and now exploited for their powers. In Israel, the Sons of Simeon, a group of religious extremists, persecute sorcerers while the government turns a blind eye. After a march for equal rights ends in brutal murder, waiter Reed becomes the next target. While his friends seek his future killers, Reed complicates everything by falling hopelessly in love. As the battle for survival grows ever more personal, can Reed protect himself and his friends as the Sons of Simeon close in around them?”
Kadish, the author of “From a Sealed Room,” is best known for her award-winning novel “The Weight of Ink.” The author “reflects on the ghosts of the past, the tensions of war, and the difficult bonds of family. When Maya enrolls at Hebrew University in Jerusalem shortly after the Gulf War, she hopes to leave New York and a fraught relationship with her mother behind her. In Israel, she gets to know her older cousin, Tami, a housewife whose home has a room sealed against the war’s Scud missile attacks. Like Maya, Tami feels distanced from the people closest to her – her mother, husband and only son. But it will ultimately be Maya’s visits with Shifra, an elderly recluse and Holocaust survivor who lives in the apartment below her, that give Maya the courage to confront her problems and break free of the burdens of her past.”
Orringer’s “The Flight Portfolio” focuses on World War II and is based on a real person and events. The publisher notes, “In 1940, Varian Fry traveled to Marseille carrying $3,000 and a list of imperiled artists and writers he hoped to help escape within a few weeks. Instead, he stayed more than a year, working to procure false documents, amass emergency funds and arrange journeys across Spain and Portugal, where the refugees would embark for safer ports. His many clients included Hannah Arendt, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp and Marc Chagall. The race against time to save them is a tale of forbidden love, high-stakes adventure and unimaginable courage.”
Esserman is the executive editor and book reviewer for The Reporter Group. Her editorials and reviews have won awards from the American Jewish Press Association and the Syracuse Press Club. She won two Syracuse Press Club awards in 2018: first place for a book review and third place for a column. She serves as the Jewish chaplain for Broome Developmental Disabilities Service Office. Her work has been published in “The Women’s Torah Commentary” and “The Women’s Haftarah Commentary” (both by Jewish Lights Publishing). She also has had a book of poetry, “I Stand By The River,” published by Keshet Press of Temple Concord. 
A Reconstructionist rabbi who says her first love is teaching, she sees her position at The Reporter as an opportunity to educate the public about Judaism. She is a freelance rabbi who deals with lifecycle events, hospital visits, chaplaincy and is rabbi-on-call when needed by local Reform and Conservative synagogues. Her education includes a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania, and rabbinic ordination and master of arts in Hebrew letters from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Wyncote, PA.