Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Sydney Taylor Book Awards, administered by the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) to recognize Jewish children’s and teen literature. If you’re looking for reading options for the younger set, as I always am, the titles honored by this award program provide excellent possibilities. Find out more about this year’s winning books, authors, and illustrators here and here, and follow the exciting blog tour, too.
As I’ve suggested in some recent posts, and as the number of posts themselves may confirm, this has been a rather challenging week for me. And it hasn’t been so easy for the rest of the world, either. Which is why I’m going to point us all to this lovely rendition of the Mi Shebeirach.
As if this past week hasn’t been challenging enough for me personally (again, for reasons I may go into another time), the situation with the Listserv which I alluded to earlier really escalated yesterday. (Odd how people who claim to be motivated by “humanitarian” impulses rarely, if ever, post about Darfur, China, etc., but when it comes to Israel, watch out! This implicit unfairness is yet another infuriating part of this whole, historic story, as I suggested in writing about a book by Walter Laqueur some time back. “Disproportionate” behavior, anyone?) So I’m REALLY trying not to spend very much time with that Listserv, and will instead devote the energies I would most likely otherwise expend in fruitless “dialogue” simply posting links that I feel are important here.
In what is likely to be my last message to that Listserv for awhile (or at least, the last Gaza-related message), I invited readers to come on over to this blog to see a different set of news/columns on the situation than they’re likely to find posted on the list. It looks as though a few readers have indeed taken me up on that invitation. If you’re one of them, welcome.
And now, on with our unfortunate, depressing show:
In our last installment, I told you how important Jeffrey Goldberg’s blog is to me right now. Similarly, I’d have to post too many links if I wanted to share each and every significant post from Solomonia, a blog I discovered and praised last year.
An answer to those who claim that Hamas’s rockets don’t really mean much and certainly don’t warrant a substantive military response: “The rockets threatening Israel today are no longer just the homemade Qassam rockets that have fallen for years on Negev communities near the Gaza border, causing property damage but few casualties. Last spring, before Israel and Hamas agreed to a six-month truce, local Gaza metal shops were producing an upgraded Qassam that reached as far as Ashkelon, 10 miles north of Gaza, nearly double their previous range. In the latest conflict, terrorists began firing a new generation of advanced rockets, imported through smuggling tunnels, with far greater power and accuracy than the Gaza-made variety. The new rockets, brought into Gaza during the truce — when Hamas supposedly was pledged to halt arms smuggling — have been regularly striking Ashdod, Israel’s main port and a major chemical storage site, fully 20 miles from Gaza, or halfway to Tel Aviv. And on January 6, as the cease-fire negotiations shifted into high gear, a rocket struck for the first time in Gedera, 25 miles north of Gaza, on the southern outskirts of metropolitan Tel Aviv. That’s no longer terrorist harassment. It’s a strategic threat.” This, and more, in an excellent column in The Forward. (via JustASC)
For me (realizing, of course, that my problems don’t matter much in the “real” scheme of things when it comes to this situation), one of the most difficult parts of dealing with the current news is calibrating my internal (and, as on the Listserv, external) reactions to fellow Jews who seem far, far more concerned with the (in my view) Hamas-inflicted destruction on the Palestinian people than with the safety of Israelis. Israelis like my (and even, in some cases, their) own relatives. It is just so hard for me to understand.
But from Jerusalem, Louis Frankenthaler managed to get through to me without making me want to tear my hair out. Probably because he told me up front: “So yes, believe me it is difficult being in the opposition here in Israel (I will not cite a list of difficulties, because they pale in comparison to the monumental suffering in Gaza and in the protracted suffering in southern Israel where, in both places, civilians are being targeted, killed and exploited.)” (emphasis mine)
I don’t agree with all of Frankenthaler’s arguments, by any means (for instance, I refuse to believe that Israel is “targeting” civilians in Gaza, unless you consider Hamas as part of the civilian population), but this writer at least made it possible for me to hear (read) him through, quietly and completely. (Of course, now I really want to know which Reform congregation in New Jersey is his temple-of-origin!)
According to its Web site, Nextbook is partnering with The Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center “to bring an exciting opportunity to our New York area readers: the chance to be a film critic-for-a-day. If you attend any of the 32 screenings that are part of the 2009 New York Jewish Film Festival, you will be eligible to submit a review to be published on Nextbook.org.”
Nextbook will be giving away two tickets for each of the festival’s screenings. But whether you respond to the ticket offer or not (or in time to obtain complimentary admission), you’ll still be welcome to review festival films and submit them to Nextbook. The filmgoer who writes the best review will receive a boxed set of the Nextbook/Schocken Jewish Encounters book series, plus a one-year membership to The Jewish Museum.
Details and guidelines, as well as information on the festival films, are all available at the Web site.
From the Lilith homepage: “Are you in a writers’ group that happens to be composed only of Jewish women? If so, please email our senior editor, Susan Schnur, at [SusanSchnur(at)lilith(dot)org], to let her know asap.”