Speculative Wisdom is a book club and text study group that invites participants to gaze into the future through the lens of sci-fi and speculative fiction, and into the past through the lens of Jewish tradition.
Our hypothesis is that juxtaposing the imaginations of contemporary visionaries and the sages of old not only provides a uniquely engaging avenue for deepened Jewish literacy, but also equips readers with a mental flexibility to better respond proactively to the problems of our time. By privileging the work of BIPOC, queer, and disabled writers, this group advances a congregational commitment to dismantling oppression and serves to sharpen our analysis as antiracist activists. And, by including participants from kindred communities like Kadima Reconstructionist Community (Seattle, WA), Hinenu (Baltimore, MD) and other Synagogues Rising communities, we are strengthening networks between justice-seeking Jews who not only wish to explore alternative worlds through fiction, but to build a liberatory future in reality.
Our ancestors created a rich tradition of apocalyptic literature to grapple with the tumultuous changes in the world around them, and inspire hope for a future filled with peace and justice. In our own time, visionary and speculative fiction (a category that includes genres like science-fiction, fantasy, alternate history, utopian / dystopian literature, etc.) can provide a boost in imaginative thinking that will allow us to move with grace through crisis. It invites us to look backwards and forwards, imagining other worlds to put the challenges of our own in stark relief. What is the world we have inherited, and what worlds do we wish to build, inhabit and pass on to future generations?
Join us for rabbinical and lay interpretations of these works and the Jewish tradition in a regular book club throughout the next year. We will meet over Zoom, and encourage anyone with an interest in the book selection to attend, even if you have not been able to read it cover to cover.
This program is open to the public - not just members of Congregation T'chiyah.
Upcoming Book Discussions:
January 22 / 29 Tevet - A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
March 19th / 26th of Adar - Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
May 21st / 1st of Sivan - A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys
July 23rd / 5th of Av - Binti: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor
- 4/18/21: Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements edited by adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha
- 6/6/21: - Selected stories from R.B. Lemberg's Birdverse. Content warning: ableist antagonists: “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” (approx. 40 pp.); “Geometries of Belonging” (approx. 48 pp.); “The Book of How to Live” (approx. 38 pp.); Talmud from Kendra Watkins of Detroit Jews for Justice
- 6/13/21: - Special Book Talk & Q+A with R.B. Lemberg! Click to watch the video!
- 8/8/21 Selected stories from Stories Of Your Life And Others by Ted Chiang; Torah teaching from Rabbi Ariana Katz of Hinenu
- 1/2/22: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
- 2/27/22 - Grievers by adrienne maree brown
- 4/24/22 - The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin
- 6/21/22: How Long 'til Black Future Month?: Stories by N.K. Jemisin
- 7/21/22: -Depart, Depart!by Sim Kern, featuring teaching on Jewish monsters with artist Ezra Rose. Watch a special SpecWis interview with Sim here!