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The Atlantic Jewish Council

The Shaar Shalom Library Bookclub discusses “Ariel Samson: Freelance Rabbi” by MaNishtana – Aug. 25th, 12:30pm, @the Shaar

The next meeting of the Shaar Shalom Library Book Club will be Sunday, August 25 at 12:30 PM, in the Shaar Library.

They will be discussing MaNishtana’s Ariel Samson: Freelance Rabbi

*Coffee and bagels will be served.

About the Book

Ariel Samson is just your run of the mill anomaly: a 20-something black Orthodox Jewish rabbi looking for love, figuring out life, and floating between at least two worlds. Luckily, it gets worse.

Finding himself the spiritual leader of a dying synagogue, and accidentally falling into viral internet fame, Ariel is suddenly catapulted into a series of increasingly ridiculous conflicts with belligerent college students, estranged families, corrupt politicians, hippophilic coworkers, vindictive clergymen, and even attempted murder. (And also Christian hegemony, racism, anti-Semitism, toxic Hotepism, and white Jewish privilege. Because today ends in “y.”)

But all that’s the easy part.

Because whether Ariel knows it or not, he’s due for a breakthrough. Several, in fact. And he’s about to find out whether or not he’s strong enough to re-evaluate everything he thought he knew about himself, and own up to the things he didn’t.

Thought leader and provocateur MaNishtana turns his eye to fiction in this imaginative, semi-autobiographical novel, making Ariel Samson, Freelance Rabbi the most dazzling debut of an Orthodox black Jew born on a Sunday at 2:24AM in a Brooklyn hospital in 1982 that you will ever have the privilege of reading.

2018 finalist for the National Jewish Book Award’s Goldberg Award for Debut Fiction.

MaNishtana, is a New York-based African-American Orthodox Jew–born from two African-American Orthodox Jewish parents–and is an author, writer, educator, playwright, rabbi, and public speaker, primarily on racial and religious identity & culture, and how their intersection manifests in America. Currently earning his second Orthodox rabbinical ordination, MaNishtana was born and grew up Chabad-Lubavitch, and hails from a legacy of African-American Judaism stretching into the 1780’s.

MaNishtana has appeared in both national and international press–including the New York Times, New York Magazine, the Jewish Week, the Jerusalem Post, Tachles, D La Reppublica, Unleash the Fanboy, and others–and has appeared on film in the documentaries Punk Jews (2012) and Doing Jewish: A Story From Ghana (2016). He has contributed to the Jewish Daily Forward, Tablet Magazine, and Hevria, and was selected as a presenter to both the BBYO International Convention and for ELI Talks in 2017.

A recipient of the Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36” award in 2014, and a cohort of the 2016 ROI Summit, MaNishtana is the author of three books on Jewish and African-American identity. A graduate of Brooklyn College, his debut novel Ariel Samson: Freelance Rabbi was Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award’s Goldberg Award in the category of Debut Fiction, and is an Amazon Kindle Top 50 bestseller in the category of Jewish American Fiction. Additionally, MaNishtana has been a contributor to both the The Kveller Haggadah: A Seder for Curious Kids (and Their Grownups), and the Tablet Magazine-published James Beard Award Nominee The 100 Most Jewish Foods: A Highly Debatable List.

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