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Miriam's Coast-To-Coast Book Club

Thursday, October 22, 2020 4 Cheshvan 5781

7:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Click here to register or RSVP to Robby at

Coast-To-Coast Book Club Welcomes Susie Drazen
By Joanie Jacobson

She got her first library card when she was in kindergarten in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and has been an avid reader ever since. She loves non-fiction, specifically US political history; and Doris Kearns Goodwin, Geoffrey Ward, Jon Meacham, Robert Caro, Jonathan Alter, Blanche Wiesen Cook and David McCullough head her list of favorite authors.

Thanks to the world wide web, Susie Drazen will bring her wit, wisdom, intellect and heart when she hosts The Miriam Initiative’s Coast-To-Coast Book Club on Thursday, October 22, from 7:30-8:30 pm (CDT). Featured will be Simon Wiesenthal’s The Sunflower, a surprising and thought-provoking study of forgiveness, justice, compassion and human responsibility with contributions from the Dalai Lama, Harry We, Cynthia Ozick, Harold S. Kushner, Primo Levi and more. “The Sunflower was recommended to me,” Drazen said, “and I was intrigued by the concept of ‘the possibilities and limits of forgiveness.’”

Susie Drazen is an all-time Beth El favorite. She and her husband Paul (of blessed memory) came to Omaha in 1982 and graciously served as rabbi and rebbetzen until 2002. “I was in my twenties when we moved to Omaha,” said Drazen, “and in many ways, I grew up at Beth El Synagogue. Beth El is still my home at heart, and the silver lining to the pandemic is that I came home again. I am most grateful to Beth El and to Rabbi Abraham, Hazzan Krausman, Eadie Tsabari and the Beth El family for the warmth of the welcome everyone has extended to me, especially these last few years.

“I was a book reviewer for women's clubs in Omaha, and I was always happy bringing my favorite books to new people and sharing what I loved,” she continued. “My books are my friends. I love the characters, and want to know more about them, so I love discussing their personalities and the roads on which life takes them. I’m especially looking forward to sharing The Sunflower with women I know and women I’ll meet from the Omaha Jewish community and beyond!”

The Sunflower is a classic for all times. While imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, Simon Wiesenthal was taken one day from his work detail to the bedside of a dying member of the SS. Haunted by the crimes in which he had participated, the soldier wanted to confess to and obtain absolution from a Jew. Faced with the choice between compassion and justice, silence and truth, Wiesenthal said nothing. But even years after the war had ended, he wondered if he had done the right thing. What would you have done in his place?

In this important book, 53 distinguished men and women respond to Wiesenthal's questions — theologians, political leaders, writers, jurists, psychiatrists, human rights activists, Holocaust survivors, and victims of attempted genocides in Bosnia, Cambodia, China and Tibet. Their responses, as varied as their experiences of the world, remind us that Wiesenthal's questions are not limited to events of the past.

The reviews are in. “Five stars. Couldn’t put it down. A transformative book.” The Sunflower will challenge you to define your beliefs about justice, compassion, and human responsibility. Susie Drazen will engage you in a stimulating conversation you’ll long remember.

The Coast-To-Coast Book Club encourages women in the Omaha Jewish community to invite their mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, nieces, cousins and girlfriends across the country to join them on Zoom on October 22.

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Wed, October 28 2020 10 Cheshvan 5781