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A Novel

  • reading group guide

For Ronit Krushka, thirty-two and single, who lives on Manhattan's Upper West Side, Orthodox Judaism is a suffocating culture she fled long ago. When she learns that her estranged father, the preeminent rabbi of the London Orthodox Jewish community in which she was raised, has died, she must return home for the first time in years.

There, amid the traditional ebb and flow of the community, Ronit reminds herself of her dual mission: to mourn and to collect a single heirloom -- her mother's Shabbat candlesticks. But when Ronit reconnects with her complex and beloved cousin Dovid as well as with a forbidden childhood sweetheart, she becomes more than just a stranger in her old home -- she becomes a threat.

Set at the crossroads of tradition and modernity, of personal desires and the demands of God, Disobedience is about the importance of moving on and what we lose when we do -- and it is about the tendency toward disobedience that we all possess.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 240 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743291576 | 
  • May 2007
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Reading Group Guide

Book Summary:
Ronit Krushka, a thirty-something single lawyer living in Manhattan, reluctantly returns to London after the death of her estranged father, a prominent rabbi. Along with grieving for the father she never understood (and who never really understood her), she must face the people of Hendon, the small, tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community she fled many years ago. Despite her calculated efforts for a quick trip, Ronit finds herself embroiled in the aftermath of her powerful father's death, not to mention the tangle of friendships she left behind.
Upon her arrival, she is met by her timid cousin, Dovid, who has been studying under her father for the past few years and who seems to be the logical heir to his post at the local synagogue. In the midst of all the powerful emotions she is feeling, Ronit is shocked to learn that the unassuming Dovid is now married to Esti, her childhood best friend, with whom she shared a brief, forbidden relationship. She quickly remembers why she left this regimented way of life in favor of New York City. Not only has she re-entered a sort of love triangle with her old friend and cousin, she's now viewed as a scandalous threat to the conservative community elders who would love nothing more than to see her on the next plane back to the States. But before she can return to her life stateside, Ronit realizes that there are a few loose ends she must tie up before she can truly be free. In doing so, she finds a way to reconc see more

About the Author

Naomi Alderman
Photo Credit:

Naomi Alderman

Naomi Alderman is a graduate of Oxford University and the University of East Anglia's Creative Writing MA and has published award-winning short fiction in a number of anthologies. She has worked as an editor and game designer, and spent several years living in New York. She grew up in the Orthodox Jewish community in Hendon, the neighborhood in London where she now lives.




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