Newcomer shocks orthodox Jewish community in ‘Auxiliary’
“The twins just turned 3, and I feel like I’ve hit a milestone,” Jo said beginning our book club with a bottle of bubbles. “I also found a great book for us to read.” Jo held up “The Ladies Auxiliary” and began to tell us about it.
“The story takes place in an Orthodox Jewish community in Memphis, Tenn.,” she said. “A young woman, Batsheva, moves in with her 5-year-old daughter and disrupts the religious and sheltered community. Although Jewish, she is a convert from New York, and she raises eyebrows with her free-spirited and modern practices.””Sounds like something Summit County went through last year,” Sally said half laughing.
No one really wanted to get into a political discussion, so Jo quickly moved on.”The author, Tova Mirvis, writes from the different perspectives of the women in the community. She develops wonderful, colorful characters. Some of the women gossip, and others are all about their kugel and cooking. Many are insecure and jump on the rumor bandwagon, while one or two are bravely tolerant in the midst of speculation about Batsheva.
“Batsheva revitalizes some of the tired Jewish practices but sings far too loudly and wears her skirts a bit too short. Mirvis brings humor to the obvious stereotypes, and readers realize they know these characters. The characters could be women anywhere in small-town America. They are both endearing and aggravating at the same time.”As a recent widow, Batsheva moves to her husband’s childhood home wanting to create a community for her child. She takes a job teaching at the Jewish school and becomes the confidante for the teenage girls. They are struggling to adapt to the rigid way of life within the orthodox community, and Batsheva offers an outlet. However, when an incident happens Batsheva is blamed. Although the rabbi’s wife defends Batsheva, another scandal arises.
“The book does a terrific job of bringing to life real issues in a community that are often disguised and overlooked. I learned a lot about the orthodox culture, but I also connected some of the same issues to many we have here. I couldn’t put the book down. It helped me through the insanity of planning the twins’ birthday party.”We were all intrigued with what Jo told us and looked forward to reading. The Jewish High Holidays were here, and it seemed a timely read.
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