Waveland: Our 11th Annual One Book Mishkan Series

We begin with the novel's themes and expand our inquiry into broader questions. We hope you'll read this excellent work and join us throughout the year. All events are open to the public. Invite friends, family and colleagues to join you for these special programs.

WAVELAND: One Woman's Story of Freedom Summer, by Simone Zelitch

“ . . . Zelitch has caught the complexity, the satisfactions, and the contradictions of those urgent times. . . . Brave actions have consequences and this moving novel does honor to those who bore them.”                                                                                                                                                                       -- Author Rosellen Brown

“Her prose is absolutely delicious.”     -- Holly Cara Price, Huffington Post

Freedom Summer, 1964, finds our well-intentioned protagonist, Beth Fine, joining volunteers from the north staffing Freedom Schools and working to register voters in Mississippi. Sequential mishaps -- such as participating in a wade-in to desegregate a public pool and almost drowning -- cause her to describe herself to her daughter, years later, as “the girl who did everything wrong.” Brave, committed, not afraid to question authority, Beth yet finds herself an outsider in the movement and learns there are limits to the best intentions. Over time, new questions on the nature of authority and justice bring deepened commitment and new understanding.

Support our Local Bricks & Mortar Bookshops: Buy Waveland at Big Blue Marble Bookstore in Mt. Airy!

The wonderful Big Blue Marble Bookstore in Mt. Airy has lots of copies of Waveland available for your purchase. It’s also available at Joseph Fox, Booksellers in Center City. If you want to be able to indulge in the indescribable pleasures of browsing, please support our local bricks & mortar bookstores!

About the Author

Simone Zelitch is the author of three previous novels, The Confession of Jack Straw, Moses in Sinai, and Louisa, which The New York Times called "A wonderfully bittersweet work” and for which she received the Goldberg Prize in Emerging Jewish Fiction. Her work has also appeared in The Lost Tribe Anthology and has been featured in the NPR broadcast and the published anthology Hanukah Lights. She’s been honored with an NEA grant in Fiction and residences at the Edward Albee Barn and Yaddo.

An Associate Professor of English at Community College of Philadelphia, she established their Creative Writing program and now coordinates their new degree in English. Her novel, Judenstaat, is due next summer. Learn more about the author and her writing at: www.simonezelitch.com

Programs in our 5776 Series:

Book Discussion: Waveland (Sunday, October 18, 2015)

Natalie Gorvine, Facilitator 

Author Simone Zelitch will attend*

Bring your impressions, comments, questions and friends as we explore the novel and its themes and consider it in light of current events. Some of us were Civil Rights activists or remember it. How does that first-hand knowledge influence our reading? Many of us know the author and have read her other novels. What impact does that have on our reading of the novel?

Join us for an engaging afternoon of lively discussion facilitated by Natalie Gorvine, life-long reader, long-time Library Committee stalwart and oft-time Book Discussion leader. And, as always, a little something yummy to nosh (refreshments!).

* Simone loves to hear folks discuss her work and will be happy to answer questions, but she won't be reading or making a presentation. Plan to join us for our Panel Discussion on December 13 when Simone will discuss her work.

Saturday Night at the Movies: Liberty Heights (Saturday, April 16, 2016)

Moderated by Dr. Adam Blistein

Plan to join us for another great Saturday nite at the movies, when our ever-popular movie night returns with this 1999 film by Barry Levinson. Here's the IMDB description:

Anti-Semitism, race relations, coming of age, and fathers and sons: in Baltimore from fall, 1954, to fall, 1955. Racial integration comes to the high school, TV is killing burlesque, and rock and roll is pushing the Four Lads off the Hit Parade. Ben, a high school senior, and his older brother Van are exploring "the other": in Ben's case, it's friendship with Sylvia, a Black student; with Van, it's a party in the WASP part of town and falling for a debutante, Dubbie. Sylvia gives Ben tickets to a James Brown concert; Dubbie invites Van to a motel: new worlds open. Meanwhile, their dad Nate, who runs a numbers game, loses big to a small-time pusher, Little Melvin; a partnership ensues.

Liberty Heights explores relationships between Jews and African-Americans in the 1950’s, in the years before Freedom Summer, 1964. We’ll view it as a backdrop to the characters and events in our One Book, Waveland, which explores those same relationships in the 1960’s and beyond.

Dr. Adam Blistein – classics scholar, film buff and long-time Movie Nite producer – leads our post-film discussion. Join us for popcorn, libations, yummy treats, lively discussion and good company!

See the trailer.

Suggested Donation $5.00.

Panel Discussion: Author Simone Zelitch & Civil Rights Activists (Sunday, December 13, 2015)
Preceeded by Photo Exhibit Opening 3:30 p.m.

Moderated by Dr. Harold Gorvine

Followed by Eighth Night Hanukkah Candle Lighting, Led by Rabbi Shawn Zevit

Refreshments will be served. Suggested donation $10.00

Our Panel Discussion features a presentation by the author of Waveland, Simone Zelitch, and Mishkan members and other Civil Rights activists. The afternoon opens with a photo exhibit on Jews and African Americans working together and concludes with Hanukkah candle-lighting and rededication to our community’s work for racial justice. See full details below.


Watch full video on our YouTube Channel

Photo Exhibit Opening: Curator Larry Bush Joins Us

Mississippi Freedom Summer: From the Old Jim Crow to the New: Jews and African Americans for Racial Justice

Sunday, December 13, 3:30 p.m. (preceeding Panel Discussion)

As part of our community’s commitment to ending racial injustice and mass incarceration in this country, Mishkan Shalom has recently acquired this powerful photographic exhibit. Consisting of over 40 photographs and narrative developed by Larry Bush, editor of Jewish Currents magazine, the exhibit commemorates the 50th anniversary of Mississippi’s Freedom Summer, from the Old Jim Crow to the New.

The photographs showcase the work of civil rights, then and now, and the Jewish imperative to work for racial equity and justice. Curator Larry Bush will be with us from Woodstock for the event, which precedes the panel of civil rights era activists speaking at the Panel Discussion at 4:00 p.m.


Watch full video on our YouTube Channel

Panel Discussion

Author Simone Zelitch will describe how she gathered information for her novel: What she read; who she talked to in Mississippi and elsewhere; what documents she studied. Our panelists will discuss how their experiences compared with characters in the novel and what drew them to become Civil Rights activists. Each will be asked to reflect briefly on the participation of Jewish activists in the Civil Rights Movement, divergences between the Jewish and African-American communities since the 1960s and what both communities could do now to come closer together. Questions from the audience will follow.

Ellen Tichenor

As a high school student, Ellen worked with the Congress for Racial Equality and was a founding member of Friends of SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) in Philadelphia. In the summer of 1963, she moved into a community organizing project run by Fellowship House in North Philadelphia, where she started a Freedom School and wrote for the community newspaper. In late August of 1964, during the Columbia Avenue Riots, she worked with local clergy and community leaders to contain the violence.

She participated in weekly SNCC civil disobedience on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and then in voter registration projects there and in Albany, Georgia. At the request of James Forman, with fellow college students Steve Kurimiya, Linda Morse and Debbie Amis, Ellen went to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965 to be a nonviolent marshal for two of the marches.

Ellen is currently the Principal of Tichenor Consulting.

Yosaif August

A law student preparing to become a civil rights lawyer, Yosaif was involved in community and campus-based civil rights activities in the North. He went to Hattiesburg, Mississippi in 1965 to coordinate legal activities in Forrest County, sponsored by the Law Students Research Council. He later left law school to become a community organizer. Yosaif returned to Mississippi twice last year to participate in Freedom Summer 50th anniversary gatherings.

Yosaif is currently the Principal of Yes to Life! Coaching and author of the recently published: Coaching for Caregivers: How to Reach Out Before You Burn Out.

Timothy Hayes

Inspired by the Freedom Riders in 1961, Tim -- still in elementary school -- sought them out. He would sneak out of his Mother’s church on Sundays to attend meetings of the Atlanta Student Movement. He spent most of his high school years following the members of the new organization, SNCC; making coffee, getting sandwiches, doing anything he could just to be around them and part of the organization.

In January, 1965, while on a trip to New York for the National Science Fair, Tim met and talked with Malcolm X, whom he had seen speak several times in Atlanta. This was where Tim got the idea that the civil rights movement was really only a small part of an international struggle to rid the world of imperialism and colonialism. In March, 1965, Tim went on his first real civil rights demonstration: He marched across that bridge in Selma, Alabama on “Bloody Sunday.” He was tear-gassed, beaten and run over by a horse before getting away.

After high school, Tim attended Morehouse College and Yale University, but dropped out when he was asked to join the Black Panther Party in 1968. This was directly related to the words he remembered from Malcolm X. The Black Panthers were an organization that developed solidarity with most of the liberation movements in Africa and Asia at the time. Tim used this opportunity to visit and work in many countries: Cuba, Angola, North Vietnam and Israel/Palestine. During this time he dug wells in Guinea, inoculated children against TB in Angola -- in the middle of the war for liberation there -- and spent time in an Israeli prison under extremely harsh conditions.

When Tim decided to settle down to a normal life and raise children, he found this was impossible in his hometown of Atlanta, GA, where he was too well known by law enforcement to be just a ‘regular’ citizen. He moved to Philadelphia in 1973, taking jobs in drug rehabilitation and then with the Philadelphia Board of Education.

When Tim moved to Germantown in 1978 he found his new mission, and has mostly devoted his time to voter education and registration. From time-to-time, if the candidate inspires him, he works in political campaigns, most notably the Irv Ackelsberg and Sherrie Cohen City Council campaigns. In 1994, Tim registered over 4000 voters in the Philadelphia area.

Tim speaks about his experiences at colleges and universities and blogs at Tim Hayes' Tales from Post-Racial America.

Harold Gorvine, Moderator

Harold received his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University in 1962. His area of specialization was American history which he taught at both the college and high school levels. He taught for 47 years, 38 of them at Akiba Hebrew Academy where he was recognized as a master teacher.

Eighth Night Hanukkah Candle-lighting Led by Rabbi Shawn Zevit

We’ll light the menorah and chant the blessings, rededicating ourselves to our community’s work for racial justice.

Donate online: One Book Mishkan: Panel Discussion


Watch full video on our YouTube Channel

LINKS to Reviews, Interviews, Related Writing and More:

Learn more about Waveland, the author and Freedom Summer: Download and share the brochure.

The Jewish Book Council's Suggested Reading List on "Justice, Civil Rights and Race Relations" (Thanks to Natalie Gorvine, of our Library Committee, for providing this excellent resource.)

Book Review: Waveland, The Jewish Book Council, by Dina Weinstein, November 2015

Book Review: Waveland, Cleaver Magazine by Claire Rudy Foster, September 2015

Book Review: Waveland by Simone Zelitch, Huffington Post by Holly Cara Price, September 2015

Reviewed by Barbara Nickles, Foreward Reviews, May 2015

Free Library Podcast: Jabari Asim | Only the Strong with Simone Zelitch | Waveland, Free Library of Philadelphia, May 2015

Mt. Airy professor/author making waves in ‘Waveland,’ Chestnut Hill Local by Len Lear, June 2015

2015 Summer Library Series: Scofflaw by Simone Zelitch, ErinPringle.com, July 2015

A Writer Writes: Simone Zelitch (Hungary 1991-93) My Freedom Summer Peace Corps Novel, Peace Corps Worldwide by Simone Zelitch, August 2015

Review: Waveland: One Woman’s Story of Freedom Summer by Simone Zelitch, Historical Novel Society, August 2015

Local Jews Join "Philly is Baltimore" Rally at City Hall, Jewish Exponent: Simone comments on Waveland and current events in an interview during a recent rally.

4101 Freeland Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19128 - ph: (215) 508-0226 / office@mishkan.org Site map