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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.

Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary 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.

  • ICYMI: The latest Fig Tree Books newsletter went out to subscribers this week. It features lots of celebratory suggestions for Jewish Book Month, which is happening now!
  • Also ICYMI: Just yesterday, right here on My Machberet, I shared enthusiastic thoughts about Yehoshua November’s new poetry collection.
  • The Forward is looking for an Opinion Editor. (They’re also advertising for a Culture Intern and a News Intern. These are paid internships.)
  • Another haunting essay, grounded in her Jewish family’s experiences in the former Soviet Union, by Zhanna Slor: “Nationality.”
  • And as we approach the inauguration of a new American president, JTA presents a series of essays, each written by a Jewish leader, under the umbrella of “Worst Fears/Best Hopes.”
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    From My Bookshelf: Poetry by Yehoshua November

    I’ve mentioned the poetry of Yehoshua November in blog posts before, generally within link roundups. But I’ve just had the chance to read November’s new collection, Two Worlds Exist. And even if I don’t feel equipped to write a full-fledged review of this (or, frankly, any other poetry book), I want to draw your attention to this beautiful volume. (Especially at the start of the #Readukkah celebration!)

    These are poems about prayer, and marriage, and parenting (and parenting a child who has a disability). And loss. Some are spare; all are powerful.

    Reading this collection–which I did in a single sitting–I was struck anew with the realization of how “diverse” Jewish literature is, not merely in comparison with writing that reflects other traditions and cultures, but also within itself. November’s Judaism is not quite the same as my Judaism, and so along with the proverbial and familiar “mirrors” that I discovered as I read there I also encountered, perhaps more importantly, many quietly dramatic “windows.”

    Here are just a few places online where you can find a few of the poems that appear in this book: Continue reading ›

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    Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary 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 Hevria: an important essay by Ayala Tiefenbrunn, who is descended from “a long line of proud Yemenite Jews.”
  • Nice Canadian Jewish News article spotlighting some of the Israel-focused fiction featured on JewishFiction.net.
  • Reminder from Fig Tree Books (where I am Media Editor): There’s a giveaway going on now for readers interested in early copies of Abigail Pogrebin’s My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew. (And if you’re a librarian/reviewer/bookseller, we’ve got digital galleys for you to request, too.)
  • Coming soon: the #Readukkah challenge. Learn all about it over on the Association of Jewish Libraries website.
  • And applications are open for a number of compelling lit-related summer programs at the Yiddish Book Center. There’s the Great Jewish Books program for high-school students. There’s a Creative Writing program for twentysomethings. And there’s a program for writers of Children’s Literature–blessedly open to us old fogies, too.
  • Shabbat shalom!

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    Words of the Week

    Technically, they’re words from last week. But it’s never too late to eavesdrop on a conversation between Leon Wieseltier and Saul Friedländer. Thank you, New York Public Library, for making this available.

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    Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary 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.

  • “If trauma passes down through generations, then so too must love.” From a lovely essay by Leah Kaminsky over on Literary Hub.
  • J-Job alert: position available for “a Program Coordinator to help create, implement, and promote PJ Library programming in New York City, Long Island and Westchester.”
  • We’re less than one week from the start of Jewish Book Month. Library Journal takes note with Rachel Kamin’s excellent article on Jewish fiction. (I’d love this article even if it didn’t mention two books I’ve helped promote through my work with Fig Tree Books.)
  • Speaking of Fig Tree Books, we’ve had a big week in HQ! First, we launched a Goodreads giveaway of advance copies of Abigail Pogrebin’s forthcoming My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew. And then, digital galleys became available for reviewers/librarians.
  • And some news from my own home office: I’ve got a new poem (inspired by a study of the Book of Ecclesiastes) on the Forward‘s Sisterhood blog, and a new article (my first!) for the wonderful Jewniverse site, about one of the most arresting artifacts you’ll find in the New-York Historical Society’s current exhibition, “The First Jewish Americans.”
    Shabbat shalom.

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  • Words of the Week

    “Every day we are learning how to speak up and face down hatred. Last year, my son’s middle school learned what happened on April 20—Hitler’s birthday. The seventh grade boys sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Hitler during lunchtime. After this happened we learned from my son that the song leaders had been making anti-Semitic comments and telling ‘Holocaust jokes’ in my son’s presence. My son is one of four Jewish-identified kids in his school. While the principal immediately disciplined the students who sang, I met with the principal to make it clear how we interpreted these incidents. This was not merely bullying. When a group of students tells another that his community should have been wiped out in the Holocaust, that is terrorizing.”

    Source: an important, timely essay by Francine Green Roston, “What It’s Like Being a Jewish Family Who Lives in Montana,” on Kveller.

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