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Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary Links

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

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

  • Tahneer Oksman interviews Roz Chast about Chast’s new graphic memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?--one of my favorite books of this year so far.
  • The New York Times reviews a production of Martin Blank’s “The Law of Return,” a play about the Jonathan Pollard case.
  • Another news item about a play that has caught my attention: “Olympics Uber Alles,” by Samuel Bernstein and Marguerite Krupp. As the title suggests, the play deals with the 1936 Berlin Olympics–in which two American Jews were not permitted to compete.
  • Robin Williams’s passing prompted the Los Angeles Review of Books to remind us of the film version of Saul Bellow’s Seize the Day–and in which Williams co-starred.
  • ICYMI: I have a new job! With Fig Tree Books (FTB), a new publishing company that focuses on fiction of the American Jewish experience. Read about my first week on the job on my other blog. And please, follow FTB on Twitter and/or Facebook.
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    Words of the Week, II

    Ellen Willis, z”l, “Is There Still a Jewish Question? Why I’m an Anti-Anti-Zionist” (essay originally published in 2003; reprinted online this week by Tablet):
    And yet I count myself an anti-anti-Zionist. This is partly because the logic of anti-Zionism in the present political context entails an unprecedented demand for an existing state—one, moreover, with popular legitimacy and a democratically elected government—not simply to change its policies but to disappear. It’s partly because I can’t figure out what large numbers of displaced Jews could have or should have done after 1945, other than parlay their relationship with Palestine and the (ambivalent) support of the West for a Jewish homeland into a place to be. (Go “home” to Germany or Poland? Knock, en masse, on the doors of unreceptive European countries and a reluctant United States?) And finally it’s because I believe that anti-Jewish genocide cannot be laid to rest as a discrete historical episode, but remains a possibility implicit in the deep structure of Christian and Islamic cultures, East and West.

    Oren Kessler, “Hamas Lies–and the Media Believed It” (U.S. News):
    “It’s the Mideast equivalent of ‘Dog bites man,’ but it took the media nearly a month to recognize its sheer obviousness: Hamas lies.” Continue reading ›

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    Words of the Week

    As has been the case lately, I’ve discovered so many words worth sharing that I’m compiling some of the most compelling–and I may be back again with more before this week has ended.

    Joanna Chen, “The Silence Within Silence” (Los Angeles Review of Books):
    “Yesterday there was a ceasefire. The night before, the booms did not stop. At 3 AM the house shuddered and the walls shook. At 8 AM, as the ceasefire began, silence fell upon the house. I stood at my front door with a second cup of coffee. The cat kept close, curling herself around my bare feet. At 8:05 there was a final crescendo, a deafening boom from the direction of Gaza. A bird lifted into the air, and before I saw the bird I heard its wings beating: one, two, three. I listened to the silence that followed as if I were listening to it for the first time. There are nuances to silence, there are degrees and shades to silence. This was a heavy, ominous one and it lay upon the air the whole day and did not move.”

    Rachel Delia Benaim, “An Open Letter to Selena Gomez, from Two 12-Year-Old Fans in Southern Israel” (Jewcy):
    “Noa’s family has lived in Yad Mordechai since the kibbutz was founded in 1936. They came here to escape anti-Semitism in Europe. They built the kibbutz up with their own hands. They defended it from Egyptian invaders in 1948—there were only fifty kibbutzniks with twenty outdated guns between them, facing hundreds of trained Egyptian soldiers. But the kibbutzniks, Noa’s family, persevered. They then lived in peace with their Arab neighbors in Gaza. Sure, there were tensions and flare-ups, but for the most part they lived in peace. And then just after Noa and Yarden were born, the rockets started.” Continue reading ›

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    From My Bookshelf: THE HOPE: American Jewish Voices in Support of Israel

    I need not tell you how absorbed I’ve been in certain current events of late–a look at the recent “Words of the Week” posts attests to that. But I have not yet shared one of the actions I’ve taken in response to those events: contributing a poem to a new anthology, the sales proceeds of which are being donated to The Lone Soldier Center (in memory of Michael Levin).

    Edited by the indefatigable Rabbi Menachem Creditor, the book features an array of American Jewish voices that, as Rabbi Creditor notes, are united when it comes to “one sacred truth: Am Yisrael Chai!”. You can read more about the book via Jweekly.com, and you can take a “look inside” on The Hope‘s Amazon page.

    If you are so inclined, I ask you to please spread the word about this meaningful volume. Thank you.

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    Words of the Week, IV

    Rabbi Avi Weiss, “Comforting the Wounding, Worrying About Family” (The Jewish Week):
    “The soldiers of Israel are the soldiers I met at Beilinson [Hospital, Petach Tikvah] today. They are our children and grandchildren, decent and kind. Though today they wear their uniforms with pride, I know they would much prefer to shed them, would prefer a life–and a world–where Israel had no need for an army.”

    Ambassador Ron Prosor, Speech to the U.N. General Assembly:
    “There is only one way to achieve sustained quiet in Israel and build a peaceful and prosperous Gaza. Hamas must be disarmed. Gaza must be demilitarized. And the international community must divorce itself from the romantic notion of Hamas as ‘freedom fighters.’”

    Anthony Reuben, “Caution Needed with Gaza Casualty Figures” (BBC News):
    “In conclusion, we do not yet know for sure how many of the dead in Gaza are civilians and how many were fighters.” Continue reading ›

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