Writer. Reader. Reviewer. Resource Maven.


I maintain two blogs: Practicing Writing and My Machberet. Posts for both blogs show up on this page, but you can visit each blog by clicking on the appropriate link. It's also possible to subscribe to each feed.

Practicing Writing: Here you'll find updates on writing and publishing opportunities (especially handy between issues of our popular monthly newsletter). You'll discover ONLY opportunities that charge no fees, and ONLY publications/contests that will pay for your writing. The blog also shares writing-related news, resources, and quotations; book reviews; and occasional updates regarding this practicing writer's own work.

My Machberet: "Machberet" is the Hebrew word for notebook. Since it's also (appropriately) one of the very first words I learned in my first Hebrew school in Brooklyn (and, I confess, one of the few conversational Hebrew words I still remember), I've chosen it to title this blog, where I offer write-ups on Jewish news (especially of the literary sort) and occasional commentary.

Sunday Sentence

circ_smallIn which I participate in David Abrams’s “Sunday Sentence” project, sharing the best sentence I’ve read during the past week, “out of context and without commentary.”

“But I am also predisposed to think this because I am an American Jew—which is to say, a person who exists because his ancestors made a run for it when they could.”

Source: Jeffrey Goldberg, “Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe?” (The Atlantic)



Friday Finds for Writers

Treasure Chest
Writing-related resources, news, and reflections to enjoy over the weekend. Continue reading ›

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Pre-Shabbat Jewish Lit Links

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Every Friday My Machberet presents an array of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • On the Reform Judaism blog: another nice review of Anita Diamant’s The Boston Girl that hits a lot of notes I’ve been thinking about re: this novel, too.
  • Another review with which I concur: Gloria Kestenbaum’s take on Gina Nahai’s The Luminous Heart of Jonah S., which Kestenbaum calls “[b]y turns hilariously funny and painfully sad.”
  • In time for Passover: Jewish kidlit recommendations from Lisa Silverman (Jewish Journal) and Marjorie Ingall (Tablet).
  • Via Shelf Awareness: a nifty one-stop-“shop”/newsletter for learning all about Fig Tree Books (my employer!) and the novels of American Jewish experience it is publishing this spring.
  • And as we prepare for the final episodes of Mad Men, The Forward’s Anne Cohen talks with Matthew Weiner by phone “to ask him what comes next, what he kept from the set, and really, what’s the deal with all the Jews?” on the show.
  • Shabbat shalom!

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    Pre-Hiatus Jewish Lit Links

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

    Every Friday, My Machberet presents an array of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety. Yes, I know it’s not Friday. But I won’t be able to post then, as I’ll be on a brief “off-the-grid” hiatus. So here are the links, just a bit early. See you again next week!

  • Last Thursday I attended the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) awards ceremony. I was happy to see that The Essential Ellen Willis won in the Criticism category. I read that book after I discovered “Is There Still a Jewish Question? Why I’m an Anti-Anti-Zionist,” a truly “essential” essay. (Also taking top honors at the NBCC ceremony: Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? – one of my favorite reads of 2014.)
  • The March Jewish Book Carnival was posted on Sunday. Always worth reading.
  • UK-based Jewish Quarterly is hiring paid interns in journalism and in social media.
  • Also worthwhile: a cyber-roundtable with Jewish-fiction editors Yona Zeldis McDonough, Nora Gold, and Michelle Caplan (my colleague!), hosted by Barbara Krasner.
  • On the Fig Tree Books website, Rebekah Bergman reviews Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s Leaving Brooklyn.
  • And speaking of Fig Tree Books–last, but definitely not least: the March newsletter, with info on three ongoing giveaways of titles of Jewish interest and a whole lot more.
  • Shabbat shalom–and see you next week!

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    Midweek Notes from a Practicing Writer

    Oh, what a busy time it has been!

    A Book is Born

    BookBirthdayShelfieIt’s a BIG week for all of us at Fig Tree Books. Yesterday was the official publication date for our first title, a novel by Alan Cheuse titled Prayers for the Living. (Let’s just say that I spent a lot more of my weekend time working for the “day job” this past Saturday/Sunday than I normally do! But I certainly wasn’t alone in putting forth some extra pre-publication efforts.)

    If you’re in Brooklyn or Washington, you can attend readings that Alan will be giving this week at BookCourt and Politics and Prose, respectively. Details on the Fig Tree Books website. Oh, and there’s a new issue of the Fig Tree Books newsletter available, too. Continue reading ›

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    From My Bookshelf: Myron S. Kaufmann’s REMEMBER ME TO GOD

    Can't explain the coloring on the cover of my library copy!

    Can’t explain the coloring on the cover of my library copy!

    “Though it was hailed on publication as one of the finest novels ever written about American Jews and remained on The New York Times bestseller list for an entire year,” Josh Lambert has written for Tablet, “almost no one remembers [Myron S. Kaufmann’s Remember Me to God] today. It goes unmentioned in bibliographies of American Jewish fiction, and so obscure is Kaufmann in this Internet age that searching for his name turns up nary a stub on Wikipedia.”

    Lambert’s essay explores the possible reasons behind the book’s obscurity. Having recently immersed myself in the novel (you can find a summary here), I can appreciate Lambert’s arguments and hypotheses. I’m in particular agreement with the suggestion that one should accord attention and respect to the characters of Adam Amsterdam and his daughter Dorothy. But I can’t get away from how unpleasant—dare I say, how unsympathetic—I found the ostensible protagonist, Richard Amsterdam (Adam’s son and Dorothy’s brother).

    This character is so repellent that he made it challenging for me to stick with the novel—which runs more than 600 pages—despite the book’s unquestionable artistic merits as (again borrowing from Lambert) “a finely wrought triumph of midcentury realism.” Like Lambert, I have personal connections to Harvard, where much of the novel unfolds, and innumerable details within the novel struck chords of not-unpleasant memory. But Richard Amsterdam (and, to a lesser extent, Richard’s mother) so appalled me that I’m not sure how comfortable I’d feel recommending this book to others without some warnings.

    Still, I can understand Lambert’s enthusiasm. And I’m not sorry that I read it.

    Have you read Remember Me to God? What was your take?

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