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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
Beloved Comrades: A Novel in Stories by Yermiyahu Ahron Taub is an engrossing account of a synagogue and the people who entered it. Spanning three generations, the novel captures the varied lives that touched it or were touched by it. No one knows what goes on in the personal lives of congregants, but the author has creatively decided to tell this story in a sweeping way--through the voices of different people who have different experiences, different private affairs. Wisely, there are a variety of perspectives, which makes for a comprehensive experience while reading the book--something for everyone. You can really feel the personalities pulsate through each section. The synagogue comes to life through the heartbeats and activities of the people connected to it.
Some of the stories are frank and bold in their honesty, while others are softer and more personal. It's through the lens of the synagogue that we examine humanity, faith, social justice, art, culture, immigration, love, compassion, and other themes and institutions. Taub has created a compelling collection of characters (Rosa and Jack are quite interesting!), and by reading their stories in a voyeuristic way, we can learn as much about ourselves as we can about them--what we think and believe, the values we hold, and the lives/memories we cherish from the past. Some scenes are explicit to a degree (the sexual encounters), but very interesting. Through the pages, we can feel how important community is, and what a special place the synagogue can be. The mechanics of the story are perfect--dialogue, description, pacing. But the overall feel is inviting. If you long to feel part of a unique community, miss being in one, or are part of one, enter the synagogue with Beloved Comrades: A Novel in Stories by Yermiyahu Ahron Taub.