The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis

Jewish LearningWorks' 3rd Annual ONE BAY ONE BOOK

A project of the Jewish Community Library  

On the bookshelf for 2014-15: The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis

The Betrayers spans one momentous day in the life of powerful Israeli politician Baruch Kotler, a former Soviet refusenik. Fleeing to the Crimea in the wake of political pressure and blackmail, he unexpectedly comes face to face with the man who denounced him to the KGB forty years earlier.  In prose that is elegant, sly, precise, and devastating in its awareness of the human heart, David Bezmozgis has created a powerful morality tale for modern times that poses profound questions about ethics and forgiveness. Evoking biblical themes while casting attention to the plight of Jews in both Israel and Ukraine, it is both a timely and timeless book that will provoke lively discussion.

"Now that Philip Roth has finished his life's work, let us turn our attention to David Bezmozgis. His bravery and style are off the charts and The Betrayers is his finest, slyest, most robust work yet." —Gary Shteyngart

David Bezmozgis is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. His first book, Natasha and Other Stories, has been translated into fifteen languages since its publication in 2004. His first novel, The Free World, was published in 2011. In 2010, he was included inThe New Yorker's 20 Under 40 issue, celebrating the twenty most promising fiction writers under the age of forty. Born in Riga, Latvia, he lives in Toronto.



Dozens of community partners hosted discussions of The Betrayers. The Library hosted related events, including Robert Alter teaching about the Psalms, which feature prominently in the novel; Rabbi David Wolpe teaching about King David, who is evoked numerous times in the novel; a presentation by Russian-born author Boris Fishman; drop-in book discussions of Bezmozgis's Natasha and Other Stories, The Betrayers, and Anya Ulinich's Petropolis; and appearances by David Bezmozgis himself at both the Jewish Community Library and the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto.  Congregation Kol Emeth offered a panel discussion of Davids, including Rabbi David Booth, contemplating what it means to be the namesake of King David.


Afikomen Judaica, Berkeley
Brandeis-Hillel Jewish Day School, San Francisco
Coastside Jewish Community & 
    Coastside Jewish Community, East Bay Chapter
Congregation Beth Ami, The Celia Gurevitch Library, Santa Rosa
Congregation Beth Israel Judea, San Francisco
Congregation Beth Jacob, Sisterhood Book Group, Redwood City
Congregation Beth Sholom, San Francisco
Congregation Beth Sholom Religious School Parents' Book Group, San Francisco
Congregation B'nai Emunah, San Francisco
Congregation Etz Chayim, Palo Alto
Congregation Kol Emeth, Palo Alto
Congregation Ner Shalom, Cotati
Congregation Ner Tamid, San Francisco
Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley
Congregation Sherith Israel, San Francisco
Congregation Shir Hadash, Los Gatos
Congregation Shomrei Torah, Santa Rosa
Contemporary Jewish Museum Book Group, San Francisco
Friends of the Jewish Community Library, San Francisco
Hadassah, San Francisco Chapter
Hadassah, Sequoia Chapter
JCC of San Francisco
Jewish Community High School of the Bay, San Francisco
The Jewish American Fiction Book Club, Fairfax
Jewish Community Library, San Francisco
J. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California
Kehillah Community Synagogue, Oakland
Lehrhaus Judaica. Berkeley
Or Shalom Jewish Community, San Francisco
Osher Marin JCC, San Rafael
Oshman Family JCC, Palo Alto
Peninsula Temple Beth El, San Mateo
Peninsula Temple Sholom, Burlingame
Peninsula Sinai Congregation Men's Club, Foster City
Temple Isaiah, Lafayette