Local authors in the congregation talk about their books

Photos courtesy of Bethesda Jewish Congregation

Davi Walders spent years writing for other people as an educator. Now, she writes books about overlooked women whose stories are not well known, if at all.

Walders spent 15 years researching women who resisted during the Holocaust for her poetry collection “Women Against Tyranny.” She said the inspiration for this came from a memorial that she had saw.

“My husband and I were walking through a forest in Burgundy and we saw an old arrow pointing to a monument of a group of resistance fighters,” Walders, a member of Bethesda Jewish Congregation, said this week. “I thought there must be other women who were working and we don’t know about them.”

Walders joined five other author-members of Bethesda Jewish Congregation and its sister communities, Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church and Maqaame Ibrahim Islamic Center, on Zoom for a discussion called “Authors Among Us,” about the books they had published.

“The essence of civilization is our ability to communicate with each other, not only to learn from other people but to imagine things that we haven’t done,” said author Bob Dean, a member of Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church.

Bethesda Jewish Congregation member Chuck Weiss published his novel, “The Survival Nexus,” last year. It focuses on how science intertwines with politics and economics to affect the world.

“We can manage these issues, but time is growing short and the stakes are very high,” he said, referring to the pandemic and climate change. “The bottom line is that science and technology aren’t enough by themselves.”

He said that although the book touches on complex topics such as energy, artificial intelligence and international relations, he wrote it so a general audience can digest the science. It features a number of “heart-warming, amusing and scary” incidents.

Kim Nisha Baten, of the Maqaame Ibrahim Islamic Center, wrote a children’s picture book. “Nadia Hears the Shahadah” aims to teach readers about her Muslim faith.

“I thought, what better way to do this then through the eyes of a toddler?” she said of what inspired her to write. Walders said that most of her writing starts with a question. For her poetry book “Afternoon in the Garden,” she began by asking, “What was Eve doing all afternoon in the Garden?”

The path to getting published is not an easy one, panelists said. Walders said she received 60 rejections from book publishers for “Women Against Tyranny,” and by the time she actually received an offer she couldn’t believe it.

“I literally could not understand that they were accepting the book for publication,” she said. “I had to call my friend to clarify what the letter had said.”

The reward is worth the cost, many of the authors said. Walders offered a piece of advice to prospective authors: don’t give up.

“I kept persevering but it was very, very hard,” she said. “It takes a lot of time and effort, but you just have to keep going.”

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