Temple Emanuel Book Club provides more than just literary insight

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By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer

Barb Nahoumi, Beth Tafler, Cathy Fortin, Marianne Neuman and Alison Matthew  Missing is Judy Samson Photo/submitted
Barb Nahoumi, Beth Tafler, Cathy Fortin, Marianne Neuman and Alison Matthew
Missing is Judy Samson
Photo/submitted

Marlborough – For members of the Temple Emanuel Sisterhood Book Club, the club was more than just a way to enjoy camaraderie and vibrant discussions of books – it was a way to meet with one of their congregants who was chronically ill.

The small book club began in August 2013. Part of their goal was to include Eileen Jacobs, who was wheelchair bound and mostly immobile. The meetings initially took place at Eileen’s home to insure that she could participate. The group typically met once each month and helped with meal preparation for the meeting. In addition, they used the Perkins Library to get Eileen audio copies of each book that was selected.

“Because Eileen could no longer come to the temple, we decided to go to her home, which she was thrilled about,” said member Alison Matthew. “She loved to read and engage in the discussions. When she could no longer use her hands and her eyesight was failing, we limited our selections to what was available on an audio book.”

When Jacobs went to a nursing home a year and a half ago, the group brought the book club there. They continued meeting at Wingate in Sudbury up until her passing in April.

“It was very difficult for us after Eileen passed,” member Beth Tafler. “We have had two meetings since then and we met at a restaurant. She was such an inspiration to all of us and she is missed dearly.”

The last book the group read was titled, “Beneath a Scarlett Sky,” by Mark Sullivan. All of the group’s selections have a Jewish thread but the genres vary. The group enjoys reading books by Alice Hoffman.

While the group is small, they want to encourage anyone who may be interested in participated to join.

“One of the things I truly love about this book club is that we are all able to broaden our horizons with selections that we might not have, otherwise, chosen on our own,” said Tafler.

“Judaism is a cultural thing and we enjoy celebrating the Jewish community in Marlborough through that lens. In addition, being with people that love to read is very exhilarating,” said Matthew.

Temple Emanuel’s community is warm and welcoming and reminds these book club members of a family.

“The thing that is most important to me about our book club is the fact that we were able to join our friend, Eileen, in the larger world we found in the stories that we read,” said member Cathy Fortin. “We loved her input and really bonded as a group…Now we meet to continue our bond and honor her memory.”