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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.

Words of the Week

“On the other hand, Israel is meant to be the state for all of the Jewish people. It is meant to be a place where all Jews can feel at home, can pray freely and practice their religion the way they want, with respect and dignity. It was one thing when the cabinet passed the Kotel deal in 2016 but then got stuck with its implementation. At least it seemed on the surface to be trying to move things forward. Now, the message to millions of Jews around the world is that Israel simply doesn’t care about them.

Reform and Conservative Jews throughout the US already feel like second-class citizens when it comes to ritual in Israel like conversion and marriage. By annulling the decision to create a prayer space that all Jews can call home, the government is leading this relationship toward an even greater divide.

For years, Netanyahu has told the Israeli public that there is no one better than him who understands America and American Jewry. Today we finally understood what that means – he doesn’t really care about them.”

Yaakov Katz, “Shameful Day for Israel as It Freezes Plan for Pluralistic Prayer Site at the Kotel” (Jerusalem Post)

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Looking Ahead to Fall 2017 #JewLit

Last Tuesday I spent a delightful day at the Association of Jewish Libraries conference (held this year right here in New York). And I was lucky enough to sit in on the latest iteration of a session titled “Recommended Reads: The Latest & Greatest in Jewish Fiction for Adults.” It was helmed, as in the past, by librarian Rachel Kamin, who was joined this year by Rosalind Reisner and Judy Weidman.

From left: Judy Weidman, Rosalind Reisner, Rachel Kamin

At one point, the session previewed some forthcoming novels “by favorite authors.” Among those that were mentioned: 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.

  • From The Jewish Week: a summer reading section (that includes my own review-essay about Dorit Rabinyan’s All the Rivers (trans. Jessica Cohen).
  • “Faye Kellerman’s Orthodox Characters Bring Judaism to the Masses”—good piece by Yvette Alt Miller over on Aish.com.
  • Jewish Currents has just issued this call to artists and writers (and I’ve been assured via email that these are paying opportunities).
  • Now available: the June edition of the Jewish Book Carnival.
  • And on Commentary‘s site: a review (by Marat Grinberg) of Ellendea Proffer Teasley’s Brodsky Among Us.
  • Shabbat shalom!

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    Words of the Week

    “In my travels and talks and meetings, I am constantly running up against this problem. When people are polite, they often tell me how ‘difficult’ supporting Israel in their communities has become, because of the settlements, or because of offensive statements by Israeli politicians. The problem is a sincere one, but it is a structural one, and will not go away so long as (i) American Jews relate to Israel as principally a political cause rather than a civilizational force, (ii) American Jews relate to some policies and not others as resonating to the core of their own identity as Jews, and (iii) American Jewish politics are so different from Israeli politics, which is unlikely to change.

    And that’s when they’re polite.”

    Source: David Hazony, “Israeli Identity and the Future of American Jewry” (The Tower)

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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.

  • I’m among those theatergoers swept up in the power of Oslo, which won a Tony award for Best Play this week. Itamar Rabinovich’s review for Jewish Review of Books offers some insights I appreciate knowing.
  • Speaking of plays: Check out this nice feature on the Jewish Plays Project by Amy Oestreicher for Broadway World.
  • I was lucky enough to be in the audience one recent evening when authors Matti Friedman and Nicole Krauss were in conversation—on writing about Israel and more—at Central Synagogue in New York. And now, thanks to JBSTV.org, you can catch a video of their discussion.
  • For The New York Jewish Week, George Robinson shares the four films that he believes are “the best Jewish or Israeli films of the first half of the year.” See if you agree with his choices (or add some titles to your to-be-watched list).
  • And a hearty mazal tov to all of the individuals and publications recognized in the latest round of the Simon Rockower Jewish Journalism Awards.
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    Words of the Week

    “The problem is not the work itself but the way Waldman and Chabon are promoting it. In interviews, they have turned their brief tour of the West Bank into undeniable evidence that they’ve discovered the absolute truth of the conflict: It’s Israel’s fault. And they describe the situation in such shallow and simple terms, I half-wondered if “Kingdom” was a children’s book. (It’s not.)”

    Source: Danielle Berrin, “Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman Undermine Peace for Palestine” (Jewish Journal)

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