December 10, 2018

Award-Winning Author Rachel Kadish Comes to Books & Bagels at CBSRZ This Morning

It’s not often that Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) gets to welcome a winner of a National Jewish Book Award to Chester.

But that’s exactly what’s going to happen this morning, Sunday, March 18, at 9:30 a.m. when Rachel Kadish will be discussing and reading selections from her third novel, The Weight Of Ink, that won her the prestigious Jewish Book Council’s Book Club Award. This award ‘recognizes an outstanding work of fiction or nonfiction authors that inspires meaningful conversation about Jewish life, identity, practice, or history and is dedicated to promoting Jewish continuity for the next generation.’

“In many ways a book about books, The Weight Of Ink surprises with delights that are gradually revealed. At first it might seem almost necessary to take notes to follow the complex plot, but soon the reader will become absorbed in this rich opus of impressive breadth”, comments Kristin Gibbons in a review published in the Jewish Book Counsel’s website.

Gibbons continues, “The beauty of this story is in the variety of its milieus and sensibilities. As we follow female protagonists of both the seventeenth and twenty-first centuries – Ester Velasquez and Helen Watt, respectively-we also witness to the goings-on of a venerable and drafty house of a rabbi in 1660s London, and glimpse the modern life of a cheeky young American man with heartrending troubles.”

To cap off her triumph, Kadish was just named the inaugural winner of the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) Jewish Fiction Award for The Weight Of Ink.

The Weight of Ink defies strict genre classification, combining as it does a gripping tale of contemporary scholars engaged in academic detective work and historical fiction that brings to light the small Jewish world of Restoration England and the practical daily issues along with more complicated religious and philosophical issues.

One moves back and forth from the competitive world of modern scholarship to the very different world revealed in a trove of newly discovered seventeenth century manuscripts; from the personal involvement of one of the book’s two heroines, Helen Watt, who sets out to uncover the secrets behind the mysterious scribe at first identified solely as ‘Alelph’, to its other heroine, Ester Velasquez, the exceptional scribe for a blind rabbi, a woman who would be remarkable in any time and place.

Ester’s story, partially uncovered by Helen and partially revealed as the story unfolds, plunges us into the London of the 1660s and into the small but gradually expanding Jewish community, largely made up of Sephardic /Converso families. And that story reaches out into a much larger world, connecting us with the life and work of Spinoza and even hinting at the identity of Shakespeare’s ‘Dark Lady’.

Book Browse summarizes The Weight of Ink this way:  Electrifying and ambitious, sweeping in scope and intimate in tone, The Weight of Ink is a sophisticated work of historical fiction about women separated by centuries, and the choices and sacrifices they must make in order reconcile the life of the heart and mind.

Among the many admirers of The Weight of Ink can be found Carol Gilligan, author of In a Different Voice, Margot Livesey, author of Mercury, Leah Hager, author of No Book but the World, and Toni Morrison, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner and author of many books including The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, Beloved, and, most recently, God Help the Child.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 E. Kings Highway in Chester.

Books & Bagels is free of charge and open to the public. For more information visit                          www.cbsrz.org/events, or call the CBSRZ office at 860-526-8920.

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