We invite the community to join with us in reading and discussing The Plot Against America by Philip Roth and participating in the many events taking place in the Bay Area through June 2019.  Events will be listed here on an ongoing basis, so be sure to visit this page soon for new information!


These events take place at the Jewish Community Library at 1835 Ellis Street in San Francisco unless otherwise indicated.

Reading The Plot Against America: Then and Now

A panel discussion featuring Seth Brysk, Sarah Fields, and David Waksberg at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center, Foster City

Sunday, May 19, 3 PM

Registration is required for this event. Please click here or call 650-378-2703 to register.

For many, reading Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America today as taken on a different meaning than when the novel was published in 2004. How does the scenario Roth paints relate to present fears about the status of Jews and other minorities in the United States, and about the strength of American democracy? This event will focus on the factors that make this book so resonant for readers, with a panel of communal leaders and educators reflecting on how the novel relates to challenges in our day.

Seth Brysk is the ADL Central Pacific Regional Director, based in San Francisco, serving Northern California, Utah, and Hawai’i.

Sarah Fields is the Peninsula Public Affairs and Civic Engagement Manager for the Jewish Community Relations Council.

David Waksberg is the CEO of Jewish LearningWorks.

Drop-In Book Club: American Pastoral

Sunday, May 19, 2 PM


The first in Roth’s trilogy exploring the life of American Jews of his generation, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel American Pastoral paints a masterful portrait of the assimilated Seymour “the Swede” Levov, whose perfectly constructed world falls apart when his daughter gets involved in radical politics.

Book discussion led by Jim Van Buskirk.

Reflecting on Philip Roth

Sunday, June 2, 1:30 PM

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with Molly Antopol, Annie Atura, Murray Baumgarten, and Naomi Seidman

Join us for a discussion of Philip Roth and his complicated legacy with four scholars from the field of Rothian literature. Topics will include: the women Roth wrote, his role as a Jewish American writer, the use of humor and satire in his works, and the self-referential nature of his narrators.

Molly Antopol teaches writing at Stanford University. Her first collection of stories, The UnAmericans, earned her the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 award. The book was longlisted for the National Book Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, the National Jewish Book Award, and the Sami Rohr Prize.

Annie Atura is a doctoral student in Stanford’s English department and holds a PhD minor in feminist, gender, and sexuality studies. She has been a fellow at Stanford’s Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and at the Stanford Humanities Center. Atura has designed and taught several classes, including The Ethics of Metaphor, The Body Politic, and Feminism and the Novel.

Murray Baumgarten is professor emeritus of English and comparative literature and former director of Jewish studies at UC Santa Cruz. He has written extensively on American Jewish literature and thought and co-authored the book Understanding Philip Roth.

Naomi Seidman is Koret Professor of Jewish Culture at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and Chancellor Jackman Professor in the Arts in the department for the study of religion at the University of Toronto. She is the author of several books, most recently The Marriage Plot, Or, How Jews Fell in Love with Love, and with Literature.

Co-presented by the Philip Roth Society.

Documentary Film: Heart of Stone

Thursday, June 6, 7 PM

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Once considered one of the top schools in the country, with past graduates including Philip Roth and former Warriors head coach Al Attles, by the year 2000, Weequahic High School in Newark, New Jersey was a hotbed of gang violence. Principal Ron Stone saw the potential of local gang leaders in his student body to help mobilize students to seek conflict resolution, as well as academic and athletic success. Heart of Stone follows his efforts, together with those of other school administrators and a passionate alumni community, to return Weequahic High School to the place of opportunity it once was. Alumni memories of the school during Roth’s high school years are also highlighted. 2009, 84 minutes.

Program made possible, in part, by Larry Burgheimer.

Philip Roth’s Newark

Sunday, June 23, 1:30 PM

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Philip Roth lived only the first seventeen years of his life in Newark, growing up in the primarily Jewish Weequahic section and graduating from Weequahic High School. Yet his experience of Newark was a central informant for the settings of most of his novels, including Goodbye, Columbus; Portnoy’s Complaint; American Pastoral; and The Plot Against America. This program will include a brief examination of the ways in which Roth presented Newark, and will include reflections from current Bay Area residents who grew up in Roth’s neighborhood and attended Weequahic High School.

Past Events

Hitler’s American Friends: The Third Reich's Supporters in the United States

Presented by Bradley W. Hart
Sunday, March 24, 1:30 PM

Excavating Philip Roth: Reflections on a Biography's Beginnings 

Presented by Steven J. Zipperstein
Sunday, March 31, 1:30 PM

Gendering Jewish Anxiety with Grace Paley and Philip Roth

Presented by Shaina Hammerman
Thursday, April 4, 7 PM

Philip Roth’s Jewish Fiction/Friction

Presented by Howard Freedman
Tuesday, April 9, 7:30 PM
Congregation Etz Chayim in Palo Alto


Past Events:

Temple Beth El of Aptos Tuesday, October 16

Hadassah, Berkeley Chapter Thursday, October 18

Congregation Sherith Israel, San Francisco
Monday, November 26

Drop-In Book Club at the Jewish Community Library, San Francisco Sunday, December 2, 2:00 PM

Congregation B'nai Emunah, San Francisco
Sunday, December 9

Congregation Beth Jacob Sisterhood Book Group, Redwood City
Monday, December 10

Coastside Jewish Community, Montara Wednesday, December 12

Jewish American Fiction Book Club, Fairfax
Wednesday, January 9

Women of Rodef Sholom, San Rafael
Wednesday, January 16

Feast of Jewish Learning, Los Altos Hills
Saturday, January 26

Congregation Beth El, Berkeley Sunday, January 27

Congregation Beth Ami, Santa Rosa
Thursday, January 24

Congregation Beth Sholom Women’s Book Group, San Francisco
Thursday, February 21

San Francisco JCC Friday, February 22

Or Shalom Jewish Community, San Francisco
Friday, February 22

Sequoia Hadassah, Los Altos Saturday, February 28

Peninsula Temple Beth El, San Mateo
Tuesday, March 12

Congregation Shir Hadash, Los Gatos
Sunday, March 17

Peninsula JCC, Foster City Tuesday, March 26

Congregation Etz Chayim, Palo Alto
Tuesday, April 9

Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley Saturday, April 27
Contact Barbara Bibel

Congregation Etz Chayim, Palo Alto
Sunday, May 5
Contact Aaron Shuman

Congregation Ner Tamid, San Francisco
Sunday, May 5
Contact Danise Chandler