Talking in Shul

TheBookofFaithSmart yet tender, funny yet deep, The Book of Faith, is a sly, witty send-up of squabble-filled synagogue politics deftly penned by Elaine Kalman Naves.  At the heart of the novel are Faith, Rhoda and Erica, three bosom buddies, not young but not old either, affectionately known as the Three Graces. When Rabbi Nate announces that he wants a new building to house their congregation, he sets the community into a small uproar, and each of the women—well-drawn, sympathetic and complex—have a role to play in advancing or impeding the conflicting agendas that emerge. Will Rabbi Nate get his heart’s desire?  Can Erica appease the whims of a rich and unpredictable donor? What does Rhoda learn and what becomes of Faith?  Below is a teaser; you’ll just have to read the book to find out more. 


Erica backed out of her driveway on Saturday morning in some haste. It was five past ten—she would have to hustle to make it. Since Faith’s investiture as president, this had become their routine. Instead of lingering over the fat Saturday paper, catching up on phone calls, or doing the groceries, they were off to shul together.

Erica had learned to be on time for these outings; Faith was starchy if kept waiting. “On time,” though, meant a calibrated degree of lateness. Services started at ten, but being there for Mah tovu, the first of the morning prayers, showed greater eagerness for religion than Faith deemed necessary. On the other hand, she considered arriving after 10:20 bad form for her new presidential status. A decorous entrance before the Amidah, the standing prayer, was just right.

Erica pulled up in front of Faith’s brick and stone split-level on Rosedale, just as Faith, who’d been watching for her from inside, came sailing down the stairs.

“A new outfit?” Erica asked her as she buckled up.

“Rhoda and I found it on sale at BCBG. It was a steal.”