Author Tova Mirvis to discuss Jewish divorce on May 23

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Bestselling author Tova Mirvis tells of leaving both her marriage and her Orthodox Jewish community in her new book, “The Book of Separation.” She will discuss her memoir at a Temple Israel of Great Neck program and book signing open to the community on Wednesday, May 23, at 7 p.m.

“Women can feel trapped in a marriage,” said Temple Israel member Jacqueline Harounian, who arranged for the program. “I think there is much people can learn from reading this book and hearing Ms. Mirvis.” 

Harounian, who has practiced divorce law for more than 20 years, said she has seen many religious people navigate the same problems discussed in the book. What is talked about is relatable to people who stay in a difficult marriage, but people make choices for all sorts of reasons.”

“The Book of Separation” opens with Mirvis’ appearance before a Rabbinical Court, known as a Beth Din, to accept her Jewish Divorce Decree. After a heart wrenching scene, she goes back in time to describe her Orthodox upbringing and her experiences as a wife and mother of three in her tight-knit community. Her main struggle is feeling trapped both in her marriage and in her faith. She also shares her painful encounters with sexism, conformity and ostracism. 

According to Harounian, “the feelings of torment and indecision and the process of grief and rebirth are universal to individuals from all backgrounds who go through marital break-ups.” “One of the things that impressed me about “The Book of Separation” was the respectful way that Tova and her ex-husband dealt with each other during the legal process and while co-parenting their three children. Despite the emotional upheaval, they put their children’s needs ahead of their own and did everything they could to minimize conflicts.”

Temple Israel Associate Rabbi Daniel Schweber, who was also instrumental in planning the program, said: “I experienced Mirvis’ book as being about self-discovery and how one weighs and balances one’s personal needs with familial and communal needs. After some soul searching, Mirvis seems to have found a way. I encourage people to come hear her story. 

The discussion, as well as a book signing, will take place in a Temple Israel member’s home. For reservations for the no-charge program call Temple Israel, 482-7800. Temple Israel, the region’s largest Conservative Jewish congregation, is located at 108 Old Mill Road, Great Neck.

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