Join a club! Synagogues and other organizations host book clubs, often with virtual options 

 

Looking to connect and curl up with a good book? We’ve compiled a list of local book clubs for you to consider! 

Don’t see your club listed? Please let us know at Chronicle@MilwaukeeJewish.org.

Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid Book Club

CBINT’s book club reads books that have ties to Judaism, either through the subject matter or the author, said organizer Bobby Miller. The club selects eight or nine books to read each year. 

 
Participants do not have to complete the book before attending the meeting. During meetings, the members discuss the author and their thoughts about the text. 

 
Miller said the group aims to hold its meetings on the third Monday of each month, unless it is a holiday. Because of the pandemic, the group met in the park over the summer. Now that the weather turned colder, Miller said the club is meeting virtually over Zoom. Prior to the pandemic, meetings were held at the synagogue or at people’s homes. 

 
The book club is free and open to the public. Those interested in joining can call the synagogue’s administrative assistant for details about what the club is reading. CBINT also includes details about the upcoming book choice in its newsletter.  

 

Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid, 6880 N. Green Bay Ave., Glendale. 414-228-7545. CbintMilwaukee.org 

Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun Library Book Club 

Some of the club’s books have a Jewish theme or author, although it is not a requirement, according to Sherry Malmon, the club’s informal coordinator. Malmon said the club presents an opportunity to gather with likeminded people and hear different perspectives about the material they are reading. 

During meetings, a member provides background on the author and a review of the book, then everyone discusses the material. Participants are welcome even if they haven’t read the book, she said.  

Meetings are typically held on the third Tuesday of every month from September through June from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., with the June meeting lasting longer for members to suggest books for the next year. During the pandemic, the club has met using the video conferencing platform Zoom.  

The club is free and open to members of the synagogue, although sometimes the audience is wider. 

Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun, 2020 W. Brown Deer Road, River Hills. 414-228-7545. CEEBJ.org.  

Chabad of the East Side Book Club  

The club reads books of different styles but always with a Jewish theme, said Mushka Lein, the congregation’s rebbetzin. She said the club started after a friend moved to the area and was looking for ways to meet people. 

Most members read at least part of the book before meetings, but some participate without reading the selection, Lein said. Meetings are a social occasion. The discussion includes researching books to pick the club’s next read. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, she said, the club has met over Zoom. Usually, the club meets at members’ homes on a rotating basis. Meetings typically are held every sixth Wednesday.  

The club is free and open to Jewish women and girls. 

Email Lein at Mushkalein@ChabadWi.org to find out about joining or what book the club is reading.  

Chai Point Book Club 

The independent and assisted living facilities through Ovation Communities’ Chai Point have a free book club open to residents. Books are selected based on the recommendation of a staff member from the Milwaukee Public Library. He ensures enough copies of the book are available in regular print, large print and audio format, said Bonnie Jean Barczak, Chai Point’s activities director. 

Residents are encouraged to read at least part of the book before participating in a meeting, she said. Meetings include a discussion of the book’s contents, including first impressions of the work. 

The club has not met since March because of the pandemic, Barczak said, but residents are still able access books from the library. Prior to the pandemic, the club would choose its next book at each meeting. Barczak said they would convene for their next meeting three or four weeks after the new book was delivered.  

Ovation Chai Point, 1400 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee. 414-289-9600. Ovation.org. 

Jewish Museum Milwaukee 

Although the museum does not have a formal club, it hosts book talks throughout the year, said education director Ellie Gettinger. The museum usually selects authors who have a connection to the museum and its exhibits. 

Gettinger said the museum usually hosts one or two author talks a year. During the pandemic, though, it has held three, with more scheduled. Sometimes, the events feature a speech by the author. Other times, the book talks have more of an interview style. In both cases, Gettinger said, the museum leaves time for guests’ questions. Participants do not have to read the book before hearing the author speak. 

Throughout the pandemic, the book talks have been hosted over Zoom. In normal circumstances, the events are held in the lower-level board room space of the museum’s facility. 

The events are free, and Gettinger said participants are asked to consider contributions to the museum. 

Those interested in upcoming book talks can visit the museum’s website for updates or sign up for its mailing list. 

Jewish Museum Milwaukee, a program of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, is at 1360 N. Prospect Ave. 414-390-5730. JewishMuseumMilwaukee.org. 

Learning Opportunities for Milwaukee Educators 

LOMED reads four or five books each year, said Tzipi Altman-Shafer, the Jewish education community planner at the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. Typically, one book intersects with either the Holocaust or antisemitism. Another will connect with an exhibit at Jewish Museum Milwaukee.  

Participants are welcome to join the discussion without reading the book, Altman-Shafer said. As part of the discussion, members talk about 10 to 15 quotes from the selected text. 

The club is meeting virtually for the time being, but meetings were in-person before the pandemic. Altman-Shafer said LOMED’s book club aimed to meet every other month between September and May. 

The club is free to join and open to anyone in the community.  

Details about the schedule are available on the Milwaukee Jewish Federation community calendar at MilwaukeeJewish.org/Calendar. 

No Stress Book Club  

The book club is part of Congregation Shalom in Milwaukee. June Wallace, who leads the club, said No Stress reads a mix of books, some that have Jewish themes and some that don’t. The club selects books based on recommendations from members, with a requirement that the books must be “discussable,” she said.  

Some members read the book before the meeting, and some don’t, Wallace said. At each meeting, a member who is responsible for the book that month talks about the author before everyone discusses the material.  

In normal circumstances, No Stress meets at 1 p.m. every third Thursday of most months of the year. The club has not been meeting during the pandemic. Instead, Wallace said she sends out blurbs about books of interest to her. 

No Stress is free and open to the public.  

Congregation Shalom, 7630 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Fox Point. 414-352-9288. Cong-Shalom.org. 
 
Peltz Center for Jewish Life Book Club 

The club started in 2006. All of the club’s selections have a Jewish theme, said organizer Dinie Rapoport. Members discuss the content of the books at meetings, which are sometimes also attended by someone who has ties to the material and can provide a personal perspective. 

Some members read the whole book before meetings, others read part of it, Rapoport said. The discussion includes lessons members can take from the book to apply to their lives. 

Rapoport said the club aims to read four books per year.  

The club is free to join and open to women, Rapoport said. Meetings have been held over Zoom during the pandemic. Typically, the club meets in person at members’ homes, in the synagogue’s library or other locations.  

Prospective members can reach out through Women@ChabadMequon.org. Details are also posted on the congregation’s website and social media. Peltz Center for Jewish Life, 2233 W. Mequon Road, Mequon. ChabadMequon.org. 

The Shul Bayside Ladies’ Book Club 

The club reads a variety of books throughout the year covering topics including Israel, the Holocaust, personal growth and Jewish history, said organizer Chava Edelman. She said the group analyzes the books so members can grow into better people and better Jews as they seek to contribute to the world. 

Edelman described the club’s style as informal, with some members who have not read the book prior to meetings, and some who’ve read only part of the work. The meetings do not follow a prescribed format, but members use the time to discuss the text.  

The club is now using Zoom to meet because of the cold weather. Meetings are typically held every six weeks.  

The group is free to join and is open to women of any age, background or affiliation.  

Interested women can visit ShulCenter.org for the list of upcoming books and meetings.  

Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom  

A book club is among the activities conducted by the Milwaukee chapters of organization Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom. The meetings are open to members of the group, which welcomes Jewish and Muslim women.  

Chapter leader Jan Singer said the organization is centered on building relationships between women of the two faiths and eliminating hate. Their book selections focus on that topic, too.  

Members of the chapter typically read the book before the discussion, or at least have started the text, Singer said. The discussion is typically free-form, without a specific set of questions members cover for each book.  

The Sisterhood typically reads three books each year, Singer said. Conversations about the books take place during chapter meetings. 

Sosspeace.org or search Facebook for Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom Milwaukee.  
 
Tapestry: Arts & Ideas literary series 

The Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center does not have a book club, but it runs a series of events featuring authors who speak about their writing.  

Rabbi Shari Shamah, the JCC’s community services and program director, said the pandemic has prompted the JCC to expand the program to include events nearly every month.  

Five author talks are scheduled in the first six months of 2021. The schedule of upcoming events is available online as part of the Tapestry catalogue for the winter and spring seasons.  

Guests do not have to read the book before they attend the author talk, Shamah said.  

During the pandemic, the talks have been offered virtually using Zoom. They are free for anyone in the community to attend. Through a partnership with retailer Boswell Book Co., guests can purchase the featured author’s book for curbside pick-up before the event. 

Visit JccMilwaukee.org.