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Words of the Week

“Every day we are learning how to speak up and face down hatred. Last year, my son’s middle school learned what happened on April 20—Hitler’s birthday. The seventh grade boys sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Hitler during lunchtime. After this happened we learned from my son that the song leaders had been making anti-Semitic comments and telling ‘Holocaust jokes’ in my son’s presence. My son is one of four Jewish-identified kids in his school. While the principal immediately disciplined the students who sang, I met with the principal to make it clear how we interpreted these incidents. This was not merely bullying. When a group of students tells another that his community should have been wiped out in the Holocaust, that is terrorizing.”

Source: an important, timely essay by Francine Green Roston, “What It’s Like Being a Jewish Family Who Lives in Montana,” on Kveller.

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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.

  • “I didn’t set out to write a political novel, but it seems inevitable that any writing about the Middle East will elicit strong responses from people.” So notes Leah Kaminsky, whose novel The Waiting Room is set largely in Haifa, in an interview on the Lilith magazine blog.
  • “Fictionalizing my family’s [Holocaust] stories—and adding magical realism—set me free. And set my imagination on fire.” So explains Helen Maryles Shankman in a reflective, craft-centered post for Writer Unboxed.
  • J-Job alert: JewishBoston.com is hiring an Editorial Content Specialist.
  • TBR: a translation, by Steven M. Kennedy, of Bernard-Henri Lévy’s The Genius of Judaism. Coming in January 2017.
  • And last, but not least: the latest Fig Tree Books newsletter, edited by yours truly and featuring some superb pre-publication praise for Abigail Pogrebin’s My Jewish Year (coming in March 2017) and other choice information.
  • Shabbat shalom! And one quick note: I’ll be taking a bit of a break from this blog while I embark on some travels. Expect to see me back here sometime the week after next. Thank you for your patience!

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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.

  • Coming this weekend in The New York Times Magazine: a poem by Yehoshua November (online now).
  • I love Zhanna Slor’s essays about her family and immigration history. Here’s a newly published piece, “They Used to Call Me Kolya.
  • Yizkor-related rabbinical thoughts, from David Wolpe and Lisa S. Greene.
  • Now available: the October Jewish Book Carnival.
  • And ICYMI: some reflections (and a small reading list) inspired by Adam Kirsch’s The People and the Books.
  • Shabbat shalom!

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    From My Bookshelf: THE PEOPLE AND THE BOOKS

    The brilliant Adam Kirsch has a new book out, and it’s a must-read for anyone who’s truly seeking to educate themselves in Jewish history and literature. Here’s the wrinkle: Unless you’ve already benefited from a pretty comprehensive Jewish education, The People and the Books will likely make you want to place on your own to-read list each of the 18 “classics of Jewish literature” that it analyzes. And since some of titles discussed—take the Zohar, for instance—total thousands of pages and require multiple volumes, that list is going to get much, much longer.

    I’ve decided to begin with a less ambitious goal. Having read through Kirsch’s new book, and recognizing my own reading preferences, I’m going add to my tbr list only five of the titles discussed in The People and the Books. For now.

    The five I’ve chosen: Continue reading ›

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    Words of the Week

    “Can we get beyond the toxicity? That depends in large measure to what we attribute its origins. While the panoply of its causes is beyond the scope of this essay, one contributing factor reigns supreme: Many participants in the conversation have turned up the volume to camouflage an overwhelming ignorance about issues. It is no exaggeration to say that many of those who advocate ending the occupation tomorrow or continuing it forever have given much more consideration to which smartphone to purchase next than they have to the likely repercussions of the position they advocate with absolute certainty.

    Many American Jews despair about Israel’s conduct of its conflict, but know nothing about how Israel responded to the very same challenges in the 1940’s and 1950’s, even in its public school curricula. We know the names of the prime ministers we detest, but cannot name five Israeli poets or novelists and say something about what they sought to communicate to and about Israeli society. Most young American Jews are largely opposed to the occupation, yet are unaware that the Palestinians’ explicit drive to destroy Israel began before there even was an occupation.”

    Source: Daniel Gordis, “We Need to Talk About Israel” (Tablet)

    I have just purchased a copy of Gordis’s new book, Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn.

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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.

  • On “Philip Roth and his Jewish People”: commentary by A. James Rudin for Religion News Service.
  • Nice to see Christi Craig’s take on Anna Solomon’s Leaving Lucy Pear for the Great New Books website.
  • Phoebe Maltz Bovy’s writing always interests me, but I confess that finding an article of my own referenced within “Ferrante and the Freedom of the Jewish Woman Author” made me even more intrigued by this piece for the Forward‘s website.
  • Another (Jewish) take on the unmasking of Elena Ferrante: Rachel Shukert’s piece for Tablet.
  • And ICYMI: my response to numerous anti-Israelist messages in a recent Poets & Writers feature.
  • Shabbat shalom.

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