Yermiyahu Ahron Taub

Beloved Comrades: A Novel in Stories: (Softcover: $20, 284pp, 6X9”: ISBN: 978-1-68114-523-5; Hardcover: $35: ISBN: 978-1-68114-524-2; Ebook: $2.99: ISBN: 978-1-68114-525-9; LCCN: 2019918536; Fiction—LGBT—Gay; Release: May 19, 2020; Purchase on Amazon or Barnes & Noble): Tells of three generations in the life of a small (highly unorthodox) Orthodox American synagogue, revealing the alliances, grievances, and secrets pulsating beneath the seemingly mundane facade of institutional life. Through a series of pointed, highly charged encounters, the interlocking fates of its congregants and the interior life of the synagogue itself are explored. By looking at the same events from multiple perspectives, Yermiyahu Ahron Taub dramatizes how even the most seemingly minor incidents create long-lasting effects. In a tableau simultaneously epic and intimate, sweeping and focused, Taub reimagines the synagogue as a means to investigate themes of faith, work, immigration, sexuality, community, art, social justice, and, as the novel’s title suggests, friendship and love. 

Selected for the adult readers 2020 Pride All Summer Long Reading List to honor the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march: listed in the Bay Area Reporter and Baltimore Out Loud.

“…Graceful and hope-filled book. Let his characters welcome you into Haverim Ahuvim and share their lives. There’s a seat waiting for you.” —Hill Rag Magazine, “The Literary Hill”, Karen Lyon, August 2020

“****Probing, sensitive character development reveals strong relationships among the cast, whose members are understood in stages. The book moves from their public personas to more intimate revelations, all leading to legacies of hurt and shame. Strong, forthright writing shows how the synagogue’s members are either blessed or restricted within it. Astute physical depictions help in understanding the natures of both the observed and their observers, as when a woman speaks of a potential suitor as being ‘handsome, in a blurry kind of way.’ Complex issues are introduced with intensity that’s tempered by compassion, as when a young boy who’s just discovering the pleasure of his forbidden attraction to his black, Muslim friend is discovered by a community member who keeps her knowledge secret. Synagogue members, aware that the boy is ‘different’ and cannot be ‘fixed,’ pity him and his family while praying that their own sons will be spared his curse. Meanwhile, a first grader, Mindl, is called ‘Mandy’ by her non-Jewish teacher, the trauma of whose past blinds her to the importance of names within Mindl’s community. This has a devastating effect on Mindl and her family, and is made worse when no one stands up for the child’s right to her name. Each story is compelling. Though restrictions and loss have a major presence in many of them, there are also experiences of fulfillment and joy; the total effect is satisfying. The book’s Aramaic, Hebrew, and Yiddish words are an authentic feature and are clarified in the glossary. Beloved Comrades is a sensitive novel about a religious community’s relationships and its wide spectrum of dreams, hopes, and desires.” —Foreword Reviews, Kristine Morris, May 12, 2020

“Several years ago, I discovered the poetry of Yermiyahu Taub and it was such a rewarding experience that I immediately became me a fan. I eagerly await each book he publishes and find myself reading as quickly as possible but feeling down afterwards because the experience is over and I have to wait for him to write another book. I often immediately reread his work to better savor the beauty of his words and plot just as I did here. I am sure that his relevance for me is because we share the same communities—Jewish and queer… He builds his characters through his beautiful prose thus pulling us in and making us feel that we are gaining new friends. Along with the character development, we also get physical descriptions that emerge with the development of the interior descriptions. The issues introduced are intense and complex yet Taub writes with a compassion that we do not often find in books that deal with such Orthodox Jewish ideas… Each of the stories here is a tour-de-force and the reader is left with the question of ‘What would I do?’ in difficult cases. At first, it all sounds quite depressing but let me assure you that there is great happiness to be found here. It might seem easy to put minor events in our lives behind us, but we see here that this is not always the case and as small as these incidents might seem to be, they are indeed part of our identities and reemerge when least expected and they hurt… The Jewish experience we have here is a reflection of the human experience we all share.” —Reviews by Amos Lassen

“*****More satisfying than the emotional journey, though, is the fact that this novel conveys themes that apply both to the community it depicts and to anyone who chooses to read it. This book focuses on a couple specific groups of people that are woefully underrepresented, Jewish Americans and Jewish immigrants, which is a refreshing change of pace given the steady supply of fiction about Christian communities available. Naturally, some of the themes, such as immigration, apply to this demographic in particular. However, the majority that the novel portrays—love, friendship, community, faith, sexuality, social justice—are universal, something that all readers can connect to. This fact reminds the reader that no matter our religion, our nationality, our background, we are all still human. Beloved Comrades is a beautifully written work about the long-lasting effects of the most minor events in our lives. Taub perfectly highlights moments from his characters’ private and social lives, revealing through the contrast discrepancies not only among the congregants but between their public and private personas. Gentile readers might struggle with the Hebrew and Yiddish terms but, fortunately, a handy list of terms and their definitions has been provided at the end of the book, along with a cast of characters and their relationship to the others provided at the beginning. The book might be about the Jewish experience, but its appeal speaks to the universal human experience.” —US Book Views

Interview with Barbara Krasner: “Author’s Notebook: Beloved Comrades: A Novel in Stories by Yermiyahu Ahron Taub”: The Whole Megillah, June 16, 2020

“Q&A with Yermiyahu Ahron Taub” posted on July 13, 2020 with Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb

Write Now at the Writers’ Colony podcast featuring Chad Gurley’s conversation with Yermiyahu Ahron Taub regarding “Beloved Comrades” (Anaphora) and other topics

Yermiyahu Ahron Taub (www.yataub.net) is the author of the short story collection, Prodigal Children in the House of G-d (2018), winner of two CIPA EVVY Merit Awards and named a finalist for a Foreword INDIES Award. He is also the author of six books of poetry, including A Mouse Among Tottering Skyscrapers: Selected Yiddish Poems (2017). Taub was honored by the Museum of Jewish Heritage as one of New York’s best emerging Jewish artists and has been nominated four times for a Pushcart Prize. With co-translator Ellen Cassedy, he is the recipient of the 2012 Yiddish Book Center Translation Prize and the 2014-2017 Modern Language Association’s Fenia and Yaakov Leviant Memorial Prize in Yiddish Studies for Oedipus in Brooklyn and Other Stories by Blume Lempel (2016). Taub’s poems and short stories have appeared in numerous publications. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: