Reading begins for Book Festival

September 16, 2015

What’s Happening

Henna House author: Tuesday, Nov. 10, 7 pm, Simon Family JCC

The annual “community read” book for the Simon Family JCC’s Lee and Bernard Jaffe* Jewish Book Festival is now available for purchase.

Henna House is an evocative and stirring novel about a young woman living in the fascinating and rarely portrayed community of Yemenite Jews of the mid-20th century.

Nomi Eve, the acclaimed author of The Family Orchard, writes as an enthralling story of a woman, her family, their community, and the rituals that bind them. Eve has had numerous stories and essays appear in The New York Times, Glimmer Train Stories, The Voice Literary Supplement, Conjunctions, and The International Quarterly. She teaches fiction writing at Bryn Mawr and lives in Philadelphia with her family.

An actual henna artist will be showcased at the Book Festival to coincide with Eve’s presentation.

“Henna House is an intimate family portrait and a panorama of history,” says her website. “From the traditions of the Yemenite Jews, to the far-ranging devastation of the Holocaust, to the birth of the State of Israel, Eve offers an unforgettable coming-of-age story and a textured chronicle of a fascinating period in the 20th century.”

“I really enjoyed this book,” says Anne Kramer, Book Festival chair. “It explores the diversity of the people (Muslim and Jews) in Yemen, and how they coexist.”

“I loved the strong-willed main character Adela, daughter of a sickly father and traditional mother and an extensive tightknit family,” says Linda Peck, Book Festival committee member. “To avoid the dreaded Confiscator, a state official authorized to give Jewish orphans to Muslim families to raise as their own, Adela must be engaged at the ridiculous age of eight.

“Her capers with her betrothed are delightful to read, but the magical part of the book occurs after her aunt moves to the village and introduces her to the art of henna,” says Peck. “At times I felt I was among the women watching the brides getting their arms and legs hennaed before their weddings.”

The book is available at the JCC front desk.

*of blessed memory

Letter to the Editor