Temple Emanu-El book program to focus on Siskel & Ebert


PROVIDENCE – The 2023 book, “Opposable Thumbs: How Siskel & Ebert Changed Movies Forever,” by Matt Singer, will be the subject of the Spring Book Discussion, presented by the Rosen Library Committee of Temple Emanu-El on May 19.

The event, to be held in person and on Zoom, will feature an introductory lecture by Raphael Shargel, an associate professor of Film Studies at Providence College, who will give context to the contributions of two of the most popular and influential critics of American film and their popular “thumbs up/thumbs down” verdicts.

Shargel’s lecture will be followed by a Q&A session and general discussion. Movie theater  snacks will be served.

In a recent interview, Singer stated that he worked hard to balance the story of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, who worked for two competing newspapers in Chicago.  PBS opted to pair them on TV to review new movies, and the show soon became the highest-rated weekly half hour on the network.  The New York Times labeled their interaction “combustible chemistry.”  Singer’s volume follows their work through the death of Siskel in 1999 and then of Ebert in 2013.

Prof. Shargel received his Ph.D. in Renaissance Literature from the University of Virginia.  He teaches both literature and film at Providence College.  From 1997 to 2006, he was film critic for the New Leader. He has also written about film for MSNBC.com and reviewed movies on local radio.

Committee members invite the community to join them for an event that is sure to garner two thumbs up! The Spring Book Discussion will be held on Sunday, May 19, at 2 p.m., in person at Temple Emanu-El, 99 Taft Ave. or on Zoom.  Advance registration is required, and a donation of $10 is suggested.  To register, and for the Zoom link, go to www.teprov.org/event/library/book/spring2024.html.

For more information, email Tish Brennan, co-chair of the Rosen Library Committee at Temple Emanu-El, at carabadang@gmail.com.

ARLENE S. SIMON is a member of the Rosen Library Committee at Temple Emanu-El, in Providence.