Writer. Reader. Reviewer. Resource Maven.

My Year in Jewish Books

StarFor the past three years, I’ve found it useful (and kind of fun) to look back on “my year in Jewish books.” So, borrowing some of the same introductory wording, I’m going to attempt to do something similar for 2014.

Reviewing my reading for 2014 (thank you, Goodreads!), I can see that I do not and would not ever limit my reading to “Jewish books” exclusively; it seems that this list comprises about half of the titles I read this year in toto. (By the way, in case you haven’t heard me say this before, I define “Jewish books” in the simplest terms as books with substantive Jewish content. In my view, non-Jewish authors can write “Jewish books.” And Jewish authors can write books that don’t strike me as overtly Jewish.)

But this year, as usual, I did read quite a few books that fall within the “Jewish book” category. And, as an advocate for Jewish literature, I’m proud of that.

Below, you will find these books presented in the order in which I read them (most recent first, this year). Please note that, where appropriate, I have included links to reviews, essays, and newsy items I have written; interviews I have conducted; “Sunday Sentence” citations; and the odd blog post. I have also disclosed how I obtained each book: P (purchase), R (complimentary review copy), L (library). This year, I’m adding a category: FTB, for books I’ve read in manuscript prior to their release from Fig Tree Books in my job as FTB media editor. Continue reading ›

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Words of the Week

“Why, indeed, is it that the Palestinians rejected Israel’s offer for an independent Palestinian state comprised of virtually all of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and a capital in East Jerusalem in 2000, in 2001, and then again in 2008? After all, acceptance of any of those peace deals would have resulted not just in an end to the settlement construction that the Palestinians assert is the obstacle to peace, but the evacuation of tens of thousands of Israelis from the West Bank. What inference is a reasonable person to draw from that rejection?”
–Jeff Robbins, “A ‘Very Good Question’ in Mideast Conflict” (Boston Globe)

“Moreover, we were distraught about his implication that so many news sources have anti-Israel tendencies because Israel is in the wrong.”
–Hayley Nagelberg, “Today I Was Asked By CNN If I Am Brain Dead” (The Times of Israel)

“Another opportunity in the Holy Land has been lost. The waste is unconscionable, tragedy indeed.”
–Roger Cohen, “Why Israeli-Palestinian Peace Failed” (The New York Times)

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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.

  • A hearty Mazal Tov to the winner and finalists for the latest Wallant Award: David Bezmozgis, Molly Antopol, Boris Fishman, and David Strayer-Petrov.
  • The Washington Jewish Film Festival is looking for a Production Coordinator
  • And the Boston Jewish Film Festival seeks an Artistic Director.
  • Fig Tree Books presents another array of online offerings from the world of American Jewish Experience.
  • For The Jewish Week, Sandee Brawarsky reviews Patrick Modiano’s newly translated novellas.
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    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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