Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Our April Meeting

For a list of all books discussed at Book Nosh all time, click here.


The Matchmaker is a recent Israeli film, which won the Audience Choice Award at the Israel Film Festival in New York City last May. This movie, set in 1968 in Haifa, tells two parallel stories. In part, it is a coming-of-age movie that follows the adventures of Arik, an Israeli-born teenage boy who gets a summer job with a mysterious Holocaust survivor named Yankele Bride. The other part tells the story of Yankele who, among his other endeavors, operates a matchmaking service in Haifa’s tenderloin district. As luck would have it, the grizzled, world-weary Bride falls in love himself, with fellow Holocaust survivor Clara.

According to the two people at our meeting last night who had seen this movie at a special screening at the Ambler Theater, this is an engaging film that manages to be a funny comedy, while at the same time stirring up some deep emotions about life, love, and survival. There is some talk about bringing this movie back to the Ambler Theater for a regular run. If so, perhaps we can organize a trip to see it as a group, with desserts and discussion to follow.

Click here to watch the trailer. 


The theme last night was books by authors we actually know. The first book we discussed was Losing a Life: A Daughter's Memoir of Caregiving, by Nancy Gerber. The author is one of Janie Glatt-Siman’s cousins-in-law, who handed a copy of the book to Janie when they both attended a family funeral.

This slender volume is a touching memoir of the six years spent by Nancy Gerber caring for her elderly father, a Holocaust survivor, after the father suffers a massive stroke at the age of 73. Because of the demands of providing in-home care to a totally disabled parent, the daughter is forced to cope with financial worries, with feelings of loss and resentment, love and family responsibility, and the deferral of one’s own life to care for a parent at the end of his. According to Janie, the book is written in a conversational style; it is short, but riveting.

Next, we discussed Medical Choices, Medical Chances: How Patients, Families, and Physicians Can Cope with Uncertainty, written by Alex Geiger’s best friend in college, Harold Bursztajn, M.D., with contributions by Alex’s roommate in college, Robert M. Hamm, Ph.D., two guys who went on to stellar academic careers, making everyone wonder what they saw in Alex in the first place.
The book, when it was first published in 1981, was a visionary preview of the complex issues faced by doctors and patients alike in an age of limited knowledge about the efficacy of available treatments, limited financial and medical resources, and limited powers of self-examination by the medical profession. By the time the book was re-published in 2001, its themes resonated in a new age of HMO’s and medical care rationing. Today, the book is more relevant than ever, as we discover that doctors do not know everything, that outcomes of treatments are often uncertain, and that the best that we can do is make choices based on probabilistic outcomes and hope for the best. The one consistent theme is that we need health care professionals who are dedicated and caring individuals, willing to take the time necessary to evaluate each patient’s individual situation and to explain to each patient the available options, and most importantly, willing to accept the limits to the ability of medical science to achieve perfect outcomes in each case.

Next, Salomon “Alex” Redner told us about a book by an author with whom he is intimately acquainted – Alex Redner. The book is called Photoelastic Coatings. Although choosing not to delve too far into the technical details of this engineering manual, Alex did share with us some very interesting observations about the travails and rewards of becoming a published author. Alex also promised to tell us more about the publishing process when we hold our anticipated meeting dedicated to presentations by published authors only.

Finally, a guest reviewer told us about The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman. This is a historical novel, set in 70-75 C.E., which tells the story of Masada, as seen through the eyes of four women who were there. According to our reviewer, this is a well-written, fresh look at the well-known, but endlessly fascinating story of nine hundred Jews who held off for many months the irresistible legions of the Roman Empire, and who ultimately chose to die by their own hand, rather than surrender. This book is highly recommended for those of us who are historical fiction buffs.

1 comment:

  1. I read April's and March's blogs, realizing I had not caught up. Laughed out loud about the typo on the TBI sign-would have loved seeing it!

    Our Book Nosh evenings are so enjoyable, and your blog really brings them to life.