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Words of the Week

“The mechanics of good apologies aren’t difficult. The 12th-century sage Maimonides said that true repentance requires humility, remorse, forbearance , and reparation. Not much has changed since then. Basically, you have to take ownership of the offense, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Name your sin, even if it makes you squirm. Use the first person, and avoid passive voice (‘I’m sorry I kicked your Pomeranian,’ not ‘I’m sorry your dog got hurt,’ or worse, ‘I’m sorry it was impossible to ignore the incessant yapping of your undersocialized little hellbeast’). Acknowledge the impact of what you did. (‘My lateness was disrespectful of your time and inconvenienced you on what I know was a busy day.’) Be real, open and non-defensive. (‘What I said was moronic and mean, and I’m ashamed of myself.’) Offer a teeny bit of explanation if it’s relevant, but keep it short and—this is key—don’t use it as justification for your actions. (‘I was tired and crabby because I had to work late, but that’s no excuse for taking it out on you.’)”

Source: Marjorie Ingall, “How to Say You’re Sorry,” Tablet magazine

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Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary Links

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen


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

  • A gorgeous meditation for the Days of Awe by Richard Chess.
  • Etgar Keret explains why Yom Kippur is his favorite holiday (translation by Sondra Silverston).
  • Irving Kristol’s only published short story, re-published on Mosaic this week, features an post-World War II encounter in France between an American Jewish GI and an Auschwitz survivor.
  • Have you perused the amazing collection of archived summary-reviews of major works of American Jewish fiction over on the Fig Tree Books website?
  • Last, but by no means least: David (D.G.) Myers, whose many areas of expertise included Jewish literature, passed away last Friday. Please take a few moments to read through some tributes to him.
  • Shabbat shalom, and an easy/meaningful fast to all who will be observing the Yom Kippur holiday.

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    Words of the Week

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    Shana Tova

    I’ll be taking a bit of a break from blogging for Rosh Hashanah. Here’s wishing you all a very sweet and happy New Year.

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    (And if you happen to be looking for some reading ideas, check out my article on “Noteworthy Books for the New Year” in the Jewish Journal.)

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    From My Bookshelf: On Bittersweet Place, by Ronna Wineberg

    BittersweetCovLast Thursday evening I had the great pleasure of celebrating the publication of On Bittersweet Place, a novel by Ronna Wineberg, at a lovely book party on the West Side of Manhattan.

    I’ve known Ronna for years. I interviewed her when her short-story collection was published. She helped shepherd one of my short stories along the route to publication in Bellevue Literary Review. And one of her cousins is a dear friend of one of my cousins—which makes Ronna and me practically family!

    So I was honored to be asked to contribute a “blurb” for On Bittersweet Place, which relocates the typical Jewish-American immigration story from New York to Chicago. After reading the galley last spring, here’s what I wrote: “In the pages of Ronna Wineberg’s On Bittersweet Place, one finds echoes of Anzia Yezierska and Betty Smith; in the fictional story of Lena Czernitski’s immigrant family in the first quarter of the 20th century the reader recovers a piece of our larger American history. Quite impressive.”

    You’ll surely be hearing more about this lovely novel soon. For starters, you might want to read this new Q&A with Ronna on the wonderful Bloom website. Read through to the end, and you’ll see a link to a book excerpt, too.

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