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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

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/15857940828/in/photostream/

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/15857940828/in/photostream/

“Chag sameach,” he said. “What a blessing to be a citizen of the United States of America. Thank you President Obama for everything you have done today.”

–Alan Gross, quoted by JTA

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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.

  • For your viewing pleasure: a video of Adam Kirsch speaking on the topic, “Is There Such a Thing as Jewish Literature?”
  • One of the most interesting articles I’ve read thus far on Patrick Modiano in the wake of his Nobel-prize win, by Michael Weingrad for Mosaic Magazine.
  • A trove of Hanukkah fiction from JewishFiction.Net.
  • My thanks to Christi Craig for inviting me to expound on “Jewish storytelling.”
  • And last, but by no means least: the latest newsletter from Fig Tree Books!
  • Shabbat shalom and Chag Sameach!

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    Words of the Week

    “Rabbi Held and other Jewish leaders involved in the protests fittingly cited the Torah, and its insistence on equality, for their actions. ‘Do not stand idly by while the blood of your neighbor is shed,’ the passage from Leviticus (19:6), was noted in Rabbi Ayelet Cohen’s opinion essay on the Garner death and its aftermath. She also quoted Leviticus 24:22: ‘There shall be one law for all of you.'”
    –Source: Editorial (The Jewish Week)

    “The issues here in New York and across America are great. I bless you, and ask you to bless me that we meet the challenge of our community, inspired by the glorious and holy words of the Torah, tzedek tzedek tirdof. (Deuteronomy 16:20) This does not only mean ‘justice, justice you shall pursue’ but even more importantly, ‘justice you shall justly pursue.'”
    –Source: Rabbi Avi Weiss, “Eric Garner, Jacob and Esau: The Ethics of Confrontation” (The Jewish Week)

    “While Open Hillel’s stated aims are open dialogue and inclusiveness—worthy goals—the organization in actuality has something else in mind. The people who claim that Open Hillel’s main objective is to garner support for the BDS movement may not realize just how right they are.”
    –Source: Holly Bicerano, “Standing Athwart Lies: Why I Left Open Hillel” (The Times of Israel)

    “We need you to keep the faith, and become the advocates that Israel deserves and we and the Jewish people need.”
    –Source: Rabbi John Rosove, “An Open Letter to Young American Jewish Liberals About Israel” Continue reading ›

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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.

  • You’re probably seeing lots of “best-of-year” book lists around. Here’s one that focuses on 2014’s Jewish books.
  • Rebecca Klempner remembers Gil Marks “and his contribution to Jewish books and cooking.”
  • Weekend reading: the new (December) issue of The Tower magazine.
  • A thoughtful piece by Phil Getz on “Eric Garner and Moshe Twersky Bound by History.”
  • And on the Lilith blog–a new poem of mine.
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    Words of the Week

    “If you were truly concerned about the plight of the Palestinian people there would be one, just one, resolution to address the thousands of Palestinians killed in Syria. And if you were so truly concerned about the Palestinians there would be at least one resolution to denounce the treatment of Palestinians in Lebanese refugee camps.”
    –Ambassador Ron Prosor, Address to the United Nations General Assembly on the Question of Palestine

    “‘Broadly speaking, most New York Jewish intellectuals tend to be anti-Israel, and I disagree with a lot of my friends on this,’ [playwright Kenneth Lonergan] said. ‘Someone asked me recently if I was pro-Israel. I said, “Well I’m not pro-Hamas!” The standard comment is, yes we know they’re terrible, the Islamic extremists and anti-Israel factions in the Middle East, but—and then they go on about how horrible Israel is.’ He said he felt that this common posture was a sort of liberal racism, ‘where you have an overly benevolent and understanding position toward non-white cultures that behave just as appallingly as white cultures that you are very quick to jump on and condemn. That’s a very common feature of the atmosphere I grew up in. It accounts for quite a lot of the strange bias that you hear in left-wing circles and it fits the pattern just as well as the clearly racist xenophobia that you hear in right wing circles.'”
    –Kenneth Lonergan, quoted in Tablet magazine.

    “What is certain is that, for Jews who make their lives in intellectual and academic circles, the growing prevalence of anti-Israel discourse is making things very uncomfortable.”
    –Adam Kirsch, “The Great Jewish American Liberal Academic Anti-Anti-Zionist Freak-Out” (Tablet magazine)

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