7-9:00 pm Monday, October 22, 2018
“Defender of the Faith” by Philip Roth

Author Philip Roth passed away in May of this year at the age of 85. He was a New Jersey Jewish boy who won more literary awards than any of his contemporaries and was often selected as one of the best writers of his generation. Roth’s first book “Goodbye Columbus” [1959] featured a novella with the same title… that story set up themes Roth explored over his lifetime: “how Jews respond to their ‘acceptance’ in American society?”, “Jewish family virtues in a time of sexual license”, “political Jews promoting socialist and communist models,” “money-loving Jew who place morality under financial gain,” and “changing roles in 20th-century families.”

Our October story, Defender of the Faith, comes from the Goodbye Columbus collection. Sergeant Nathan Marx returns to a Missouri Army training camp in 1945 after serving as a decorated combatant in the European theater. At Camp Crowder, Marx faces a new challenge from the enticements and schemes of trainee Sheldon Grossbart. The trainee insinuates himself into the Sergeant’s life, kindling and preying upon Marx’s long-dormant links to his religion. There are saints and sinners in this man’s army… hard it is sometimes to tell them apart.

Roth’s relationship with Judaism has been much debated. One faction says he labeled himself an atheist with remarks like: “When the whole world doesn’t believe in God, it’ll be a great place.” But Roth also wrote, “The fact is that I have always been far more pleased by my good fortune in being born a Jew than my critics may imagine.” Perhaps Roth was as much confounded by his Judaism as the rest of us, which makes his works meaningful and frustrating to all cogitating Jews.

  • Discussion Leader: Alan Liebman
  • Hosts: Carol and Mark Steingard welcome club members to their ArrowCreek home in south suburban Reno this month.
  • RSVP Required: To reserve your seat(s), receive a PDF copy of this month’s story and travel directions, please e-mail your name(s) to RenoJewishStory@AmericanSuperior.ORG before sundown, Friday, October 19th. Social time after the discussion. Refreshments served.
  • NEXT Club Meeting: 7-9:00 pm Monday, November 26, 2018