The discussion revolving around our last book in the Jewish Literature series, Angels in America by Tony Kushner, was incredibly rich and diverse. We started our discussion by exploring the parallels between the Morman and Jewish faiths and trying to answer the question, “Why did the author chose to use the Morman faith to contrast with the authors own Jewish traditions?”
The answer that our group decided on is that the author chose them because both sets of believers have faced persecution and have moved repeatedly, wandering through the wilderness and deserts, until arriving at their respective “Promised Lands.” His continued use of mirror images in everything from his use of one actor to fill two roles to his choice of religion seemed to be a recurring theme throughout the play.
We also discussed if this was a “Jewish” play. In this case, opinion was more divided. On the one hand, we had an impressive depth of biblical, and in particular, Jewish mythology that was referenced in the play. On the other hand, some members of the group felt that it explored more political and multicultural themes. However, by the end of the discussion, it was decided that Angels in America was indeed a Jewish theme, especially in its exploration of identity issues.
This was a particularly rich discussion and ended the book discussion series on a high note. Based on the success of this program, be sure to watch for more themed discussion series at the Kansas City Public Library in the very near future.