Books from Hadassah’s ‘Books on the Beach’ offer food for thought

Readings from one memoir and two novels keep audience engaged

MIDDLETOWN – One hundred seventy-seven Rhode Island Hadassah members, friends and book lovers – all dressed in their summer finery – gathered for an afternoon of renewing friendships, catching up on one another’s news  and, yes, enjoying talks by Providence-based authors Hester Kaplan and Michael Stein, M.D., and Boston-based memoirist Dale Stanten.

Authors Stein and Kaplan, husband and wife, read passages from each other’s works. Asked why Stein chose a particular passage from “The Tell,” Kaplan’s newest novel, he pointed out her exquisite ability to set the scene using all five senses. Her characters are never people who are perfect, said Stein; she likes to report on those areas of their lives and their marriages that people normally keep private.

Kaplan chose passages from Stein’s new book, “The Rape of the Muse,” that demonstrated his sense of precision.

Stanten, author of “The Hooker’s Daughter: A Boston Family’s Saga,” spoke about the difficult childhood that she and her sister had to endure as they hid their mother’s prostitution from their father, something known to everyone else in their neighborhood. Ostracized by the community, Stanten and her sister were friendless at school; they were even asked to leave the Girl Scouts. They shielded their kind and sensitive mother; despite her chosen profession, she insisted that they not shame others. Nevertheless, her mother sacrificed her children to her own needs. Stanten described her life as one of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity.

Beverly Blazar, a past president of the Rhode Island chapter of Hadassah, called the Tuesday, Aug. 13 event at the Atlantic Beach Club a “terrific afternoon. It all went so smoothly … [with a ] great committee that is getting to be very professional.”

Karen Asher and Renee Kaminitz co-chaired this year’s “Books on the Beach” Committee. Its members are Blazar, Marilyn Cohen, Diane Ducoff, Ellen Fingeret, Deborah Gerstenblatt, Audrey Hirsch, Betty Ann Israelit, Jane Kondon, Sue Mayes, Fran Mendell, Evy Mittleman, Sally Rotenberg, Toby Rossner, Judy Schoenfeld, Judy Silverman, Rita Slom and Wendy Spellun.

This fundraiser was the third annual Hadassah “Books on the Beach”; the organization does not disclose fundraising revenue.

Stay tuned; the Hadassah “Books on the Beach” Committee is already beginning to consider authors for next year’s event.

Toby Rossner (, a life member of the Rhode Island Chapter of Hadassah and “Books on the Beach” committee member, lives in Cranston.

Hadassah: or 463-3636.