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The effects on an intellectual Jewish family, the Naumann's, when the father puts all his energies into concentrating on nurturing his daughter Eliza's talent in spelling bees, neglecting his other son Aaron, and also his wife. A religious scholar interested in the mysticism of the Kabbalah, he uses its theories on the importance and relevance of letters in helping Eliza increase her spelling abilities. Aaron takes up with a local Hare Krishna group, and his mother Miriam keeps going out in the evenings without telling anyone where she is going.

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