Congregation Bnai Israel

347 Wagner Avenue, PO Box 635, Fleischmanns, NY 12430
Phone: (845) 254-9945 | Email:

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Upcoming Events

BI Book Club Meeting

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Date(s) - 08/14/2014
2:00 pm

Bnai Israel

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BI member Barbara Blumenthal will lead a discussion of  People of the Book: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks.


From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March comes this story of  the journey of a rare 
illuminated manuscript through centuries of exile and war.

In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of 
a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which 
has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and 
beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be 
illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her 
work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding – an 
insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair – she begins 
to unlock the book’s mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely 
detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book’s journey from its salvation 
back to its creation.

In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it from 
the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of fin-de-siècle Vienna, the book 
becomes a pawn in the struggle against the city’s rising anti-Semitism. In 
Inquisition-era Venice, a Catholic priest saves it from burning. In 
Barcelona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text sees his family destroyed 
by the agonies of enforced exile. And in Seville in 1480, the reason for the 
Haggadah’s extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed. Hanna’s 
investigation unexpectedly plunges her into the intrigues of fine art 
forgers and ultranationalist fanatics. Her experiences will test her belief 
in herself and the man she has come to love.

Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is at once a novel of sweeping 
historical grandeur and intimate emotional intensity, an ambitious, 
electrifying work by an acclaimed and beloved author.