Connie Beskind’s book club has been meeting once a month for at least 20 years. And now, because of the stay-at-home policy in her home state of Connecticut, the club, like others all over the country — has started meeting virtually.
“I got such a kick out of the fact I was so high tech,” the 93-year old said,
Beskind and the other members of her club — whose ages range from 65 to 97 — logged onto video conference call app Zoom to discuss “Enemies and Neighbors: Arabs and Jews in Palestine and Israel” by Ian Black. Next month’s book is Heather Morris’s novel “The Tattooist of Auschwitz.”
The club, which usually meets at their temple, meets once a month during the “school year” and reads books related to the Jewish faith or history.
“No one had a problem,” the group’s chairman, Harriet Selverstone, 78, said. She took over leading the group in 2001, after retiring from her career as a high school librarian.
Thanks to growing social media platforms, online book clubs have been on the rise even before the current pandemic started.
Still, there’s something about meeting with people in real life, who you already know, regularly over time.
Beskind, a former homemaker and interior decorator who currently lives by herself, noted that aside from the venue, the meeting wasn’t all too different than usual.
“One of my dear friends is older than I am — she was nodding off,” Beskind said. “She’s 97, so she was entitled to nod off in her chair. But, on the other hand, she was able to Zoom.”
Selverstone says the 97-year old former social worker is “sharp as a tack.” Another regular member of the group is 90 and needs to use a wheelchair. Usually her home health care aide brings her to the meetings, but last week she just dialed in.
“She seemed so happy with it,” Selverstone said.
For years, there was only one male member, “who is a good sport,” Beskind said, but now the group boasts two.
The experience has set up the nonagenarian for the rest of her social life, which has shifted online.
On Saturday, Beskind’s far-flung family is having a party — over Zoom. Her daughters, her grandchildren and their kids will be there. And next week’s Passover Seder will also take place on the platform.
“My aunt just told me she was going to have to help Grandma download the app and get set up,” her Los Angeles-based granddaughter, Rebecca Dorf, said.
“I was like, ‘Nope. She’s good to go! She’s already Zooming with her book club so just send her the invite and she can Zoom all by herself.’”