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The Ladies Auxiliary
Tova Mirvis
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The Ladies Auxiliary

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  4,673 Ratings  ·  882 Reviews
The Orthodox families of Memphis, Tennessee, are as proud of their century-old southern roots as they are of their Jewish heritage. Into this fiercely protective community comes a convert to Judaism: Batsheva, young, beautiful, recently widowed, and accompanied by her five-year-old daughter, Ayala.Batsheva's unconfined joy in the rituals of her adopted religion seems odd a ...more
Published January 12th 2000 by Turtleback Books (first published January 1st 1999)
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Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very Jewish story.....
......about a traditional Orthodox Jewish Community in Memphis, Tennessee. The families considered their city as the Jerusalem of the south. They felt that they were “part of a chain of the Jewish Memphians that would extend into the future forever, as long and as far away as God in heaven.”
When that didn’t happen, it was the last thing their community expected.

Author, Tova Mirvis, was an Orthodox Jew at the time she wrote “The Ladies Auxiliary”. Today she is
Violet wells
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The way things are going in the world it’s becoming easy to grow less and less enamoured by groups who identify themselves too belligerently with race, nationality or religion. At the heart of all such postures can often be detected an elitism, an attempt to aggrandize one’s own cult by belittling outsiders. As such the tightly knit community is a fascinating conundrum. On the one hand it’s often in these groups of people that cultural tradition is preserved – no one wants to live in a world whe ...more
Jun 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jana by: Bonnie
Shelves: re-read
The Ladies Auxiliary is essentially the Jewish version of Relief Society, complete with all the gossip, the cleaning fetishes and the casseroles. It's at once hilarious and heartbreaking. Narrated (brilliantly) in the first person PLURAL, it underscores the insider/outsider mentality. The main character is an artist from New York who moves into an Orthodox Jewish community in Memphis. It echoes in many ways my experience moving to Utah, this artist from California, and frequently feeling like an ...more
Aug 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Carie by: Jamey
I really enjoyed this book. About a convert to Orthodox Judaism who moves with her daughter to a small Orthodox community in Memphis after her husband dies. She tries to fit in.

As an LDS reader, I found it fascinating. Lots of interesting questions: How often are we like the Mrs. Levys in this novel? Are we so stuck in our customs that we forget about our religion? How can we raise our children when the world lives so differently than we do?
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Vanessa by: Rachel
Shelves: book-club-books
This novel is set in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Memphis, Tennessee. The story begins when a single mother moves into the neighborhood in hopes of starting a new life after the passing of her husband. She is a convert to Judaism, but as a fellow Orthodox Jew, she is confident that she will be welcomed to the community. Things begin to unravel from there.

This book is written in first person plural voice, which is unusual, but you get used to it very quickly. It is as if "The Ladies Auxilia
Oct 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all lds women
Recommended to Kristine by: Brandy Sims
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! I would have given it 5 stars, but some of the writing was just a little awkward. The ladies, members of a tight-knit orthodox Jewish community in Memphis, were so much fun to get to know. I am a Mormon and grew up in a community where there were not many other Mormons, but now live in a majority Mormon community. I could relate to these Auxiliary ladies who have strong religious traditions and feelings, and who want to pass those on to their children. Their foibles, fears, in ...more
Apr 13, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had a hard time getting into this book and never really did. The Ladies Auxiliary were just a bunch of gossiping busybodies. They drove me crazy with how judgmental they were. There group reminded me of an LDS ward were everyone knows your business. I did like how it raised the question of do we practice our religious beliefs out of tradition or because we truly want to draw closer to God.

I wish I could be at book club to discuss the book with you gals.
Dec 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I think it was because I could relate to so much of the story. Small communities are like that, hiding problems and protecting the status quo at all cost. What I love best about Oakland is that we celebrate diversity and seem to thrive on uncovering dirt to discuss.

And I loved the references to Jewish tradition. Although I was raised in a Reform congregation, my grandparents were very much a part of that Orthodoxy. And we all stuck together, supporting each other, even when it
The Ladies Auxiliary is, the on the surface, a story of an Orthodox Jewish community in Memphis, Tennessee. A newcomer, Batsheva, moves into the neighbourhood and she unintentionally causes the traditional group of women to question her actions, faith and purpose against their rigid rule bound society. Chaos and transformation ensues, none of which is easy on anyone. This is a deeply felt, thoughtful and universal story about the expectations of societal norms, the choices and attitudes over ind ...more
Aug 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book left me thinking. Am I open to change? Am I open, welcoming, and friendly to someone who thinks differently than I do? Do I see the beam in my own eye (see Matthew 7:3)? How do I worship? Do I just go through the motions? Or do I connect with God? How can I be the mother my children need? How can I love them not matter what they choose even when it might break my heart?

Now six and a half years later (3/2017), I would change that last sentence to "Will I still love them no matter what t
May 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mirvis definitely made me feel the conflict: the white lies and gossiping, the appearance that most people didn't seem to be in the religion out of true conviction, the judging, etc. were too much at the start. What really got to me was the way I related to the backstabbing and scapegoating that can occur in a community that's supposed to be close because of their love for God. I've been in the same position as Batsheva and it's very painful.

I feel like my Mormon-ness could relate to a lot of t
May 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would've given this book a four... I really enjoyed it all the way through until the end, which just left everything unresolved and hanging! :( If only the end had had more closure! But, I guess that makes it more like real life. I'm just not a real life kinda girl when it comes to my fiction, I like endings that resolve the issues that are going on. Small town, Memphis, with a close knit Orthodox Jewish community where everybody knows everyone else's business. A new girl moves to town and sha ...more
Dec 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As much I enjoyed the personalities of this easy read, it also made me sad. Incredibly sad within a heavy view of nostalgia and yearning for the "we are all quite the same in perception" of my immigrant and 1st generation neighborhood of my childhood. The support and the conflicts, both, were considerable- but never reflected the types of dissociation, nor abandonment of individuals, nor violence so common in the same city today. All the identical issues and interactions applied for us as did wi ...more
Tamara Springer
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing in this book is exquisite. Really enjoyed learning more about Orthodox Judaism. The characters are well developed and the story itself is interesting. And I even got to hear the author speak a couple weeks ago. Looking forward to reading more of her books.
Doris Jean
I enjoyed this book, it was written well, it was easy to read, and the characters seemed very real and lived on in my memory after the book. The setting is the Memphis orthodox Jewish community, which is a real community and the characters are universal stereotypes of every community regardless of religion. ( I think I read that the maternal grandmother of Elvis Presley was a member here.)

There are many references to practices and concepts of Judaism, such as the red heifer, the mishkan, tsnias,
Sep 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the pick for September for my church book club. It sounded interesting and I was excited to read it. This book is an enigma to me in many ways. Just when I think I have formed an opinion about opinion changes.

When I first started this book I had a really hard time getting into it. There are about 20 main characters and none of them are the narrator exactly. The story is told in first-person plural which took a bit to get into plus the pace of the book is very slow. For th
This is an intellectual story and not chick-lit so I really liked the themes and thought-provoking messages. It was told from the POV of the collective, a plural "we", so that the idea of the newcomer coming to town and not being part of the community was always at the forefront of the reader's mind. It was an interesting way to write the novel and made it seem as though all the women felt the same way about everything, but really underneath, they all had different viewpoints. I found the lack o ...more
Oct 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shauna by: Carol Goodsell
Shelves: favorites
This was such a good book. Even though this deals wiht a Jewish community. It really can apply to any community that is not very tolerant of others. I am Morman, but did not grow up in a Morman household. Living in Utah is not very easy for those who are not of the Morman faith. I did not find my faith until college, so like Batsheva, I chose this and was not raised with this. There were many characters in this book who remind me of the people I now live around. I know what it is like to move in ...more
Dec 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So far I am enjoying this book. It could easily be translated into Mormon culture. A good example of how xenophobia causes disunity and conflict in a tight knit communities.

Finished: WOW! What a powerful book. Essential reading for women in the LDS culture. Touches on the theme of examining our own lives instead of examining/criticizing the lives of other. Also about how we treat people who don't fit into the mold we have created for the typical LDS woman. Most importantly, it reminds me of the
May 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Robyn by: my cute Mom
I so wanted to like this book more than I did. I was expecting light-hearted sisterhood stuff, but, instead, I got so upset every time I sat down to read it. It made me so mad and even furious at times! A great example of religion taken to the realm of zealot and the ugly nature of women involved in everyone elses business but their own. A good lesson in beam and mote ideology. This isn't just a Jewish problem tho, I see it in my own religion. Especially living here in Utah. Anyway, I just wante ...more
Jun 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rebecca, Anita, Kim
This book surprised me how it sucked me in. The characters were so complex and well-developed. I especially liked how the author dealt with prejudices within a close-knit religious community. She treats the topic with sensitivity, but a certain amount of irony and sarcasm. Reading this book helped me take a look at my own hypocrisies and prejudices, especially those that masquerade as religion. Mirvis really brings home the idea that being religious for appearance's sake can be soul-deadening an ...more
Suanne Laqueur
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-five-stars
The narrative is third-person plural: "Little changed in this city where we have always lived..." So you are hearing the story through the community viewpoint, which accentuates the insularity of the Jews in Memphis. At first I thought it a strange point of view and then I was hooked because it made me feel part of the story, part of that "we."

Beautiful story, beautiful characters... I really have no words to describe how much I loved this book.
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a fascinating read. I love how it was a world I have never been in before and probably won't ever be in, but it hit so close to home. Its hard to fit in and find a place in a close knit community, especially one thats so old and hard fast in their traditions. Even though I'm not jewish I could still relate to the feelings in this book. It is well written and worth the read.
Aug 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, novel
This book is an excellent book club book, especially among a religious crowd. It makes one ponder what is tradition vs. based on gospel principles. It makes you squirm in your seat as you identify yourself in one of the less desirable characters. It gives you hope as you see change can happen for everyone. I read it in a book club years ago...perhaps it's time to suggest it again.
Jun 13, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
While reading a fun story about a close-knit community of women, I learned something about Orthodox Judaism. Neat.
Nov 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who is a convert to any religion or faith, anyone who wants a glimpse into the Jewish culture
Recommended to Angela by: Cindy Rees
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read
I really enjoyed this book. It was written from the viewpoint of the community, which was really fun.
It reminds me of my own little community in so many ways. The beauty and pain of a small tight knit group. Really interesting takes on ingroup/outgroup.
I also liked the perspectives on parenting and fear.
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the insight into a tight religious community and the beautiful/ugly that comes along with such close associations. So many parallels with my Mormon upbringing that it makes me realize how many of us share a common upbringing even in completely different cultures. ...more
Elizabeth Lawful
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed very much. 4 1/2 stars. Well written and told from the voice of a group of Orthodox Jewish women in Memphis. A lot to disagree with, but comfortable and familiar, like an old blanket.
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I grew up in the small Orthodox Jewish community in Memphis, Tennessee, where I felt both what was grounding about being part of a such an enclosed world as well as what was stifling. This became the subject of m first novel, The Ladies Auxiliary, which I started writing when I no longer living in Memphis. Being away from home enabled me to look back and it and explore my own ambivalence about bel ...more
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“She remembered a story she had once heard: a woman had gossiped about her neighbors and later regretted what she said. She went to the rabbi and asked how she might take back her words. He instructed her to take a feather pillow to the top of the highest hill and tear it open, letting the feathers fly every which way. Then, the rabbi said, she should return to him and he would tell her what to do. She did as he said and when she returned, he told her to go outside and gather the feathers. But that's impossible, she cried. They're already scattered all over the village. He looked at her and smiled. The same is true of your words, he said.” 20 likes
“When we were teenagers, we would imagine that when we had daughters of our own, we wouldn't be so strict. We would give them room to explore, let them decide for themselves if they wanted to follow this way of life. But once we were in the parental role, it wasn't as simple. We wanted our daughters to grow up and get married, to have Jewish homes and raise Jewish families. We wanted them to pass on this tradition to their children and to their children's children. We didn't want them to be exposed to bad influences, ones that might make them steer from this path that had been set out for them since birth. We wanted them to avoid the confusion of the modern world, where no one seemed to believe in anything anymore. We wanted them to always feel rooted in their tradition, to be close to their families, their community, and God. And we didn't know how to do that if we made no ground rules, set down no boundaries.” 2 likes
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