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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.

  • SO MUCH has been happening over at Fig Tree Books (my employer). Check out our latest newsletter.
  • I was delighted to receive the latest issue of Lilith magazine in the mail this week and especially impressed by Elizabeth Edelglass’s short story within it.
  • This week, Tablet magazine presented original fiction by Maxim Shrayer: “A Genius in the Attic: Secrets of a Cape Cod Dacha.”
  • Love this piece by Ruth Wisse, occasioned by the publication of a new biography of Saul Bellow. (ht Mosaic Magazine)
  • The Jewish Book Council is hiring a program assistant.
  • Shabbat shalom!

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    My Niece’s Mitzvah Project

    If you want to be technical about it, Alexis isn’t my niece–she’s the daughter of one of my three first cousins. But she calls me “Auntie Erika,” and I love her to pieces. Which is why I’m so proud to share the project she has undertaken prior to being called to the Torah as a Bat Mitzvah.

    In her own words:

    Please sign up for my ProjectSave18 group. This is my Mitzvah Project and starting April 1, I will be posting facts about organ and tissue donation daily. I will be doing this throughout the entire month of April, Donate Life month. My grandma Alexis was in need of a heart and kidney transplant and partly because of this she passed away. Please help me spread the word by this cause by joining my group and sharing with all of your Facebook friends.

    (Interestingly—or maybe it’s not so interesting, since it IS Donate Life month—an item from MyJewishLearning.com crossed one of my social-media accounts a few days ago on the subject of “misgivings and misconceptions” re: organ donation.) Continue reading ›

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    Words of the Week

    “What made me so distressed was not that SOCC had asked me about divestment, but that they had thought my Jewishness might make me a poor Senator. There are Jews who support divestment, there are Jews who do not take a position and there are Jews who are against divestment. My involvement in Hillel, my praying in synagogue, my love of the Hebrew language, my study of Talmud, my celebration of Rosh Hashanah and Hannukah and Purim and Passover have nothing to do with divestment.”

    –Molly Horwitz, “Dear Stanford: Don’t Quiz Me on BDS Because I’m Jewish” (Forward)

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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 Tablet: a thoughtful piece by Marjorie Ingall that pleads for a bit more subject-diversity in Jewish books for children.
  • This month’s Jewish Book Carnival is hosted over on Jodie Books. Check it out.
  • One of the links I discovered in the aforementioned Carnival: Deborah Kalb’s Q&A with Shulem Deen, whose memoir All Who Go Do Not Return I’m seeing mentioned everywhere and I’m looking forward to reading soon.
  • ICYMI: My midweek post on Practicing Writing had some things to say about Yom HaShoah.
  • Fig Tree Books published its second book this week: a re-issue of Meyer Levin’s classic Compulsion. Read Adam Kirsch’s take.
  • Shabbat shalom.

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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.

    “But it’s Thursday,” you’re saying!

    That is correct. But since I will be in transit to Minneapolis tomorrow–and since many folks will be heading offline for the concluding weekend of Pesach fairly soon, I figured I’d post early this week.

  • I’m currently reading Michal Lemberger’s After Abel and Other Stories, an extraordinary collection that spotlights women’s experiences in the Bible. (If you liked The Red Tent, this book is for you.) Check out the author’s conversation with Deborah Kalb for some more info.
  • Check out the latest links on American Jewish Experience (AJE) over on the Fig Tree Books blog. (My own favorite is the five-year Jewish-holiday calendar from the URJ.)
  • Speaking of Fig Tree Books, this week I was a guest on The Next Best Book Club blog, touting three upcoming releases.
  • ICYMI: a Passover poem & its postscript.
  • Finally, you’ve got some time (but not much) if you’d like to submit poems for Poetry Super Highway’s 17th Annual Holocaust Remembrance Day Issue. Deadline is Friday. (NB: This is not a paying opportunity. But when it comes to Holocaust-related writing, I’m personally a lot more flexible on my own “must-be-paid-for-my-work” rule.)
  • See you all next week.

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    A Passover Poem and Its Postscript

    DayenuThree years ago, Moment magazine and its poetry editor, Faye Moskowitz, did me the great honor of publishing my poem “Dayenu.” As I explained when the poem was shared again on RJ.org during Jewish Disability Awareness Month in 2014, “Dayenu” emerged from a family Seder during which I’d been especially moved by the participation of my young nephew, who as a toddler was diagnosed with childhood apraxia of speech.

    Fast forward to 2015/5775. And listen to “our little boy” summarize the Passover story. He continues to inspire and impress me — as do his amazing therapists and teachers (not to mention his amazing Mommy!).

    Which reminds me: If you’re reading this and you happen to know S. “in real life,” please don’t mention this post. He can be rather camera/video-shy, and although his mom/my sister has approved my sharing this recording-via-iTalk, he isn’t aware that it exists. Thank you.

    (Oh, there’s a bonus—you get to hear Grandma and Grandpa speak/participate, too!)

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