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Tale of sibling rivalry picked for Conservative Synagogue's 'community read'

Published 11:32 am, Tuesday, March 11, 2014
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The Conservative Synagogue of Westport wants to get the community's literature lovers on the same page -- or at least in the same book.

Borrowing a chapter from the Westport Library's annual WestportREADS community reading project, which organizes a host of activities related to one theme book, the synagogue is sponsoring a "community read" of Dara Horn's novel, "A Guide for the Perplexed."

The story involves a sibling rivalry of near-Biblical proportions, and participants will be able to discuss it with Horn at 7:30 p.m. March 27 when she visits the 30 Hillspoint Road synagogue, according to a press release.

Participation is open to the public.

"A Guide for the Perplexed" involves a software prodigy, Josie Ashkenazi, who develops a breakthrough program and is invited to visit an Egyptian library as a consultant, according to the book's website. In Egypt during the aftermath of the Egyptian revolution, Josie is kidnapped, and her jealous sister Judith at home assumes Josie's identity there, sleeping with her husband and caring for her daughter.

A secondary story line set a century earlier involves Solomon Schechter, a Cambridge professor hunting for a medieval archive hidden in a Cairo synagogue.

The Josie-Judith melodrama is a modern-day retelling of the Old Testament story of Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers. The novel explores sibling rivalry, technology and memory, storytelling and history, and the ways people use the past to shape the future, the synagogue said.

The community reading launches the synagogue's Books B'Yachad, or "Books Together" program, the synagogue said. Related programs include two discussion meetings at the synagogue:

- "Am I My Brother/Sister's Keeper? Sibling Issues in Our Lifetime," Monday, April 7, at 10 a.m.

- "A Guide to the Perplexed ... About Post-Arab-Spring Egypt, Wednesday, April 23 , 7:30 p.m.

For more information, email Stacy Kamisar at stacyk63@aol.com.