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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

“There’s something else that bothers me about the binary formulation that Zionism = particularism and Diaspora = universalism. It doesn’t take into account the attachment Jews feel for one another and the need for community — even, dare I say it, that squishy word ‘peoplehood’ — that undergirds a Jew’s sense of being in the world.

Such attachment doesn’t have to take the form of Adelson’s crass particularism and unthinking solidarity. But it does require liberals to do something that many of us obviously find difficult: To privilege our own. To be able to say that Jewish tradition is special, that Jews should feel a responsibility to one another that does not negate our responsibility to the wider world but sometimes preempts it.”

Source: Jane Eisner, “Is Exile Good for the Jews” (The 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.

  • Poems and thoughts “written by some of Hevria’s writers in reaction to the terror attack…in a Jerusalem synagogue” this week.
  • Among this week’s book reviews: Judy Bolton-Fasman on Sarah Wildman’s Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind and Harvey Freedenberg on Adam Kirsch’s Rocket & Lightship: Essays on Literature and Ideas.
  • Here’s a “theme” for a Bat Mitzvah celebration that I think we can all get behind.
  • It’s time to apply for the summer 2015 Great Jewish Books program. (Interested? Might know a high-schooler who could be? Read 2014 participant Hannah Elbaum’s reflections.)
  • Finally, this week brought the release of the latest newsletter from Fig Tree Books. Check it out!
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    Words of the Week

    “It is not enough for Kerry to listen to what Abbas or Erekat are telling him in English. Instead, Kerry and Obama must also start listening to what Palestinian leaders and activists are telling their people in Arabic.

    Moreover, it would also be a good idea for Obama and Kerry to go online and view the most recent Palestinian campaigns that encourage and applaud terror attacks on Israelis. Perhaps then they will understand that as long as the incitement continues, there is no chance — zero — for the success of any peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.”

    Source: Khaled Abu Toameh, “Palestinians’ ‘Car Intifada’ and Obama’s Peace Process” (Gatestone Institute)

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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.

  • Enjoy this remarkable account of “Two Days with I.B. Singer,” courtesy of Jewish Currents.
  • The Fig Tree Books blog launched a new feature: American Jewish Experience (AJE) Around the Web.
  • “Commenting on the [Jewish Quarterly/Wingate Prize] longlist, Director of the prize Rachel Lasserson says, ‘This generation of writers was born into stories of epic scale. Our longlist reflects their struggle to make sense of these huge stories.’”
  • With help from one of his children, Library Journal remembers author Howard Fast on the centenary of his birth.
  • And on my other blog this week: “Midrash on Happiness.”
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    Words of the Week

    “Missing from these earnest and well-intentioned pieces, however, was any acknowledgment of the role the media themselves have played in creating the conditions under which anti-Semitism flourishes. The media do not grasp, the media refuse to see, the relation between the biased and hostile coverage of Israel they produce every day and the anti-Semitism on which they report.”
    –Matthew Continetti, “Anti-Semitism: Now They Notice” (Commentary)

    “Support for equal pay, or health care reform, or union rights, or abortion rights, or anti-discrimination laws, or protecting the environment, or the idea that corporations should pay their fair share of taxes—none of these are enough of a basis anymore for your liberalism. What now defines American Jews—and only American Jews—as liberals is whether they back the administration on Israel. If you don’t think Netanyahu is not just an opportunistic politician but also the devil; if you don’t see Mahmoud Abbas as a man singlemindedly committed to peace; if you don’t agree that John Kerry is doing God’s work bringing Israelis and Palestinians together; if you don’t think the leaders of Hamas are people who can be reasoned with—and even if you agree with all of the above but are perhaps a little unsure about the wisdom or the necessity of ever-closer U.S. ties with the Mullahs in Tehran—then you should accept that you aren’t a liberal anymore.”
    –Tablet Staff, “American Jews Don’t Have to Choose Between Liberalism and Israel”

    “Indeed, as Cary Nelson correctly points out in his introduction, boycotting Israel as a solid manifestation of detesting its very existence has become arguably the single most potent marker of being of the left today. He quotes one of the global left’s most cherished gurus, the Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo, who states the obvious that, ‘by now, anti-Zionism is synonymous with leftist world politics.’ Even if one is explicitly and actively anti-racist and anti-sexist, opposed to oppression, favours economic equality, fights for workers rights, actively supports the LGBT community, advocates strict gun control, stands for ecological reforms; one will be at best a very suspect, indeed even an unwelcome, member of what constitutes today’s left and being progressive without having decidedly and explicitly anti-Zionist views.”
    –Andrei S. Markovits, “Book Review: The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel” (Fathom)

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