The Scroll is a tale that spans three generations beginning on Masada’s final, horrific day. It draws from a real archaeological find—the divorce document of a woman named Miriam that was issued at Masada (Yes, the real name of the woman on the document is the same as mine, which made it even more meaningful to me). Characters in the story must choose between nation and family, and finally, between life and death. Will Miriam’s descendants learn the lessons of her life, or will enemies – within and without – rob those lessons from them?
The Scroll is set in a long-ago time but it delves into the issues that bedevil us right here and now as we try to make sense of the complexities of Israel, its history, people, and the choices their leaders make.
The Scroll was published for the first time as a print edition in January 2016 by Menorah Books. It is available in a 290 page, paperback edition, from the Menorah Books website (click here) and on Amazon. As an ebook, it can be purchased from Amazon.com and other leading sites and read on a variety of electronic platforms. The Scroll will provide hours of fruitful and stimulating discussion as a Book Club selection for people seeking to deepen their understanding of Israel both then and now.
I welcome engagement with my readers about The Scroll as well as my other books, and looking forward to your questions and comments.
Food for Thought and Book Club Discussion Guide
The Scroll shows how ancient Jews and the first Christians responded to Rome’s heavy heel on the Holy Land around the time of Jesus. By reading this book, you’ll learn through the eyes of Miriam, a survivor of Masada, and her descendants about the cultures and beliefs of both faiths and how they faced some of their greatest challenges. While writing the book, I placed myself in that time to discover how I might face those challenges. How would you? I believe there are important lessons for today’s Jews and Christians tucked within this story. As you read The Scroll on your own or in your book club I hope you’ll find the questions below thought-provoking and enriching.
1. Which group of people presented in The Scroll did you identify with the most and why—Pharisees, Sadducees, Rebels, or Early Christian Believers?
2. When Elazar decided to have his followers take their own lives, he may have thought they were the only Jews left on the face of the earth. Put yourself in Elazar’s sandals to imagine other reasons for him to decide as he did. Are there any circumstances in which you would consider his solution?
3. “The ancient Jewish sages ask, “Why was the first Sanctuary destroyed?” What is your answer?
4. Three [evil] things prevailed there: idolatry, immorality, and bloodshed. So why do you think the second Sanctuary was destroyed, seeing that in its time they were occupying themselves with Torah,[observance of] precepts and the practice of charity? Could it be that groundless hatred is considered even in gravity with the three sins of idolatry, immorality, and bloodshed?
5. The ancient Jewish sources also present a story epitomizing “baseless hatred” called “Kamza and Bar Kamza.” You can download and read this story in the articles section of my website. Every year on the anniversary of the Temple’s destruction, the relevance today of “hatred without cause” or “baseless hatred” is discussed widely in Israel, even in opinion pieces in daily newspapers. How can this discussion be applied to your community or country?
1. Here are some junctions where characters in The Scroll acted or made fateful decisions. What were their other options? What would you have done differently?
(a) Mordechai of Tekoa rejects Miriam
(b) Miriam decided to return to Judea
(c) Jacobides rejects his son Menachem
(d) Gabriel allows his daughter to leave with Samuel
(e) The families of Ein Gedi follow Itamar and Rebecca to the caves
2. Read my article on “baseless hatred” and the story of Kamza and Bar Kamza. The wealthy man in the feast was not the only “bad guy” in the story and it is not always action that leads to disastrous results. Sometimes it is inaction. Who do you think are the “bad guys” in The Scroll? What were their actions or inactions?
3. Find the places in “The Scroll” where early Christians interact with Jews. What do these encounters say about Christians at the time? What do they say about Jews?
4. What do you imagine happened to Judith and the baby after the book ends?