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From My Bookshelf: Myron S. Kaufmann’s REMEMBER ME TO GOD

Can't explain the coloring on the cover of my library copy!

Can’t explain the coloring on the cover of my library copy!

“Though it was hailed on publication as one of the finest novels ever written about American Jews and remained on The New York Times bestseller list for an entire year,” Josh Lambert has written for Tablet, “almost no one remembers [Myron S. Kaufmann’s Remember Me to God] today. It goes unmentioned in bibliographies of American Jewish fiction, and so obscure is Kaufmann in this Internet age that searching for his name turns up nary a stub on Wikipedia.”

Lambert’s essay explores the possible reasons behind the book’s obscurity. Having recently immersed myself in the novel (you can find a summary here), I can appreciate Lambert’s arguments and hypotheses. I’m in particular agreement with the suggestion that one should accord attention and respect to the characters of Adam Amsterdam and his daughter Dorothy. But I can’t get away from how unpleasant—dare I say, how unsympathetic—I found the ostensible protagonist, Richard Amsterdam (Adam’s son and Dorothy’s brother).

This character is so repellent that he made it challenging for me to stick with the novel—which runs more than 600 pages—despite the book’s unquestionable artistic merits as (again borrowing from Lambert) “a finely wrought triumph of midcentury realism.” Like Lambert, I have personal connections to Harvard, where much of the novel unfolds, and innumerable details within the novel struck chords of not-unpleasant memory. But Richard Amsterdam (and, to a lesser extent, Richard’s mother) so appalled me that I’m not sure how comfortable I’d feel recommending this book to others without some warnings.

Still, I can understand Lambert’s enthusiasm. And I’m not sorry that I read it.

Have you read Remember Me to God? What was your take?

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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.

  • Paid summer internship opportunity with Tablet.
  • Speaking of Tablet: check out this sweet, brief documentary: “The Last of the Morrises,” about author/critic/scholar Morris Dickstein.
  • On my to-listen list: the newest episode of The Book of Life podcast, hosted by librarian Heidi Estrin, which features an interview with Tova Mirvis about her newest novel, Visible City.
  • Finally: “The Isaac Anolic Memorial Annual Jewish Book Arts Award is now taking applications.” (Thanks to Elizabeth Edelglass for info about the Jewish Art Salon and its current exhibit.)
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    On Attending a Performance of “Defiant Requiem”

    Rafael Schächter, the conductor at the heart  of the Defiant Requiem.

    Rafael Schächter, the conductor at the heart of the Defiant Requiem.


    For a long time, I was known to describe Verdi’s as “my favorite Requiem.” The first time I attended a live choral performance, I was overwhelmed by it.

    That was many years ago. Since that first performance, I have listened over and over to a CD. But Monday evening I attended another live performance. And I can’t quite find the words to articulate how extraordinary it was.

    So I’ll borrow from others.

    From the Defiant Requiem Foundation website: Continue reading ›

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    Words of the Week

    “‘Yet,’ he said, ‘our inability to use the term anti-Semitism when it concerns Jews, when we don’t have a problem calling other forms of ethnic and religious bigotry what it is, raises disturbing questions about prevalent attitudes towards Jews, Judaism, Zionism, and the state of Israel.'”

    –Rabbi John L. Rosove, quoted in Adam Nagourney’s “In U.C.L.A. Debate Over Jewish Student, Echoes on Campus of Old Biases,” The New York Times.

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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.

  • Liam Hoare shares “Knishes and Kilts, and Other Highlights of London’s Jewish Book Week” on the eJewishPhilanthropy site.
  • New on the Fig Tree Books site: Kathe Pinchuk’s review of Anne Roiphe’s Lovingkindness.
  • Did you miss the chance to hear authors Anita Diamant and Dara Horn in conversation? Thanks to Moment magazine, you can now read a transcript.
  • Michael Weingrad’s analysis of Reuven Namdar’s Sapir Prize-winning novel (for Mosaic) makes me even more eager for the translation than I already was.
  • And speaking of translation: podcaster Gil Roth recently met with eminent translator Anthea Bell; their ensuing discussion contains plenty of “Jewy” material and is well worth a listen.
  • Shabbat shalom, friends.

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    From My Bookshelf: Anita Diamant’s THE BOSTON GIRL

    More often than not, when I’m looking for a birthday gift for my beloved mother, I choose a book. We celebrated Mom’s birthday last week, and this year, I chose for her Anita Diamant’s The Boston Girl.

    The novel crossed my radar last fall. My bibliophilic bff Deb read it and recommended it, enthusiastically. In December, I even went to hear Anita Diamant in conversation with Dara Horn at an event organized by Moment Magazine at The Jewish Museum (books were sold there, too). But I didn’t read the new novel until I was prodded by the inaugural “meeting” of the Jewish Women’s Archive Book Club, a new online gathering-place; you can find the archive of that discussion, which occurred on February 10, here. Continue reading ›

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