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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.

Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

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

  • In The Barnes & Noble Review: an interview with Israeli author David Grossman about his newly translated book Falling out of Time.
  • I haven’t wanted to spend my precious reading time with John B. Judis’s Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict. Here’s another review that explains why that’s the case.
  • From Tablet: “Second Seder,” a Passover poem by Andrea Cohen.
  • Catch up with the monthly Jewish Book Carnival: April’s edition is hosted by The Whole Megillah.
  • LABA, “a non-religious Jewish house of study and culture laboratory at the 14th Street Y” in New York, has issued a call for fellowship applications. Next year’s theme: “TIME.” No fee to apply. Deadline: May 12, 2014. The program awards stipends to its fellows.
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    Words of the Week: Frank Bruni

    “When hatred is loosed, we’re all in the crossfire.”

    Source: Frank Bruni, “The Oldest Hatred, Forever Young” an opinion piece following Sunday’s terrible events in Overland Park, Kansas, in The New York Times

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    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen


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

  • A new issue of JewishFiction.net.
  • My review of Aharon Appelfeld’s Suddenly, Love (trans. Jeffrey M. Green) for Jewish Journal.
  • Coming soon (on Sunday and Tuesday), courtesy of radio station WQXR: “A Musical Feast for Passover with Itzhak Perlman.”
  • Also for the holiday: “Five Passover Movies You’ll Love.”
  • And on a similar theme: The National Library of Israel has recently acquired what is thought to be one of the first Braille haggadot.
  • Shabbat shalom and Chag Pesach Sameach!

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    Call for Fiction that Engages with “the American Jewish Experience”

    Via email:

    fig tree logo“Fig Tree Books is a new publishing house currently seeking fiction manuscripts that engage with the American Jewish experience (AJE). Fig Tree Books has responded to the need for a publisher to champion emerging and unique voices and created a place where writers about the AJE can launch their work into the world with visible celebration and support. Fig Tree Books is passionate about discovering new voices as well as expanding the audience for established writers. Although a small press, FTB has the resources to offer competitive advances, a variety of publishing formats, and a comprehensive marketing plan for authors. All books will be published in print and e-format, backed by a major distributor. FTB’s mission is to add to the rich tradition of literary American fiction that appeals to a major commercial market.

    The senior editor, Michelle Caplan, is actively seeking both new and establishing talent and will consider work from everyone, including those with no prior credits. She is in the process of trying to get the word out about Fig Tree Books and eager to recruit manuscripts and authors that may fit their model. She would love to provide more details about Fig Tree Books to any interested writers or agents with original materials or out-of-print classics on the AJE. You can contact her directly: MCaplan(at)FigTreeBooks(dot)net. Please take a look at their website www.FigTreeBooks.net, which will give you a good overview of who they are and their mission. You can find the link for submission guidelines on their home page.”

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    From My Bookshelf: Molly Antopol’s “The UnAmericans” (and an Interview with the Author)

    UnAmericansEarlier this year, I published an article listing five “Jewish books” scheduled for publication in 2014 that I was already especially eager to read. Molly Antopol‘s  The UnAmericans was one of those titles. As I wrote at the time: “I’m not the only one with high expectations for this debut collection of short stories. Anointed by the National Book Foundation as one of its ’5 Under 35′ honorees, Antopol and her book (which W.W. Norton will release in February) have received plenty of pre-publication buzz. “My stories move from McCarthy-era Los Angeles to modern-day Jerusalem to communist Prague,” Antopol has said in an interview, adding that many of the stories were inspired by her family history.

    Well, I purchased a copy for my Kindle and began reading. And I was just as impressed as I expected to be. Molly and I connected online, and I asked her if she’d be willing to answer a few questions for My Machberet. Continue reading ›

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