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Words of the Week: Jonathan Marks

“The anti-Semitic tropes in these statements are not subtle. But even if they were, I wonder why the academic left, which is usually so attuned to the subtlety of racism and sexism, puts up such a high bar for anti-Semitism. Suddenly ‘But I said Zionist, not Jew’; or ‘I’m a Jew, so I can’t possibly be in league with haters of Jews’; or ‘Yes, I’m focusing on the Jewish state and no other state, but so what?’; or ‘Sure, I’m echoing standard anti-Semitic tropes, but they’re really applicable here’ are incontrovertible arguments, and it becomes bad form to suggest that anti-Semitism is at work unless someone is screaming anti-Semitic slogans.”

Source: Jonathan Marks, “‘Zionist Attack Dogs’? The MLA’s Debate on Israel Might Go Viral,” on The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s “The Conversation” blog. (Please do read the whole thing. Then, you’ll see why I’m not at all unhappy that I’m no longer an MLA member.)

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From My Bookshelf: “The Hope,” by Faye Rapoport DesPres

Faye Rapaport DesPres

Faye Rapaport DesPres

Sometimes I marvel over the literary connections that the Internet has brought into my life–and the many pages of beautiful, important writing to which they’ve led me. Case in point: I have yet to meet Faye Rapoport DesPres face-to-face. But I feel as though I know her, in part through our social-media exchanges, and in part through her memoiristic writing.

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of Faye’s memoir-in-essays, Message from a Blue Jay: Love, Loss, and One Writer’s Journey Home (Buddhapuss Ink). The book, available this month, includes one essay that I wanted to spotlight for My Machberet‘s readers. I’m delighted that Faye agreed to answer my questions (especially since she also took the time to participate in another interview about the broader collection; that Q&A will appear in the next issue of The Practicing Writer).

Faye Rapoport DesPres was born in New York City, and over the years she has lived in upstate New York, Colorado, England, Israel, and Massachusetts. Early in her career, Faye worked as a writer for environmental organizations that focused on protecting wildlife and natural resources. In 1999, after switching to journalism, she won a Colorado Press Association award as a staff writer for a Denver weekly newspaper, where she wrote news stories, features, and interviews. Faye’s freelance work has since appeared in The New York Times, Animal Life, Trail and Timberline, and a number of other publications.

In 2010, Faye earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Pine Manor College’s Solstice Low-Residency MFA Program, where she studied creative nonfiction. Her personal essays, fiction, book reviews, and interviews have appeared in a variety of literary journals and magazines, including Ascent, Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, Eleven Eleven, Fourth Genre, Hamilton Stone Review, Necessary Fiction, Platte Valley Review, Prime Number Magazine, Superstition Review, and The Writer’s Chronicle. Continue reading ›

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Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen


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

  • Stunning piece by Rachel Kadish on teaching creative nonfiction in Israel.
  • Terrific work by William Giraldi on “the long journey of Aharon Appelfeld.”
  • The Internet has been abuzz with the news that Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent will be made into a miniseries.
  • ICYMI: The May Jewish Book Carnival posted yesterday. Plenty of goodies there for you.
  • Also: some recent poems of mine (and a poem for/about me, too!).
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    Words of the Week: Shlomo Avineri

    “It is also true that what is called the Nakba is the result of a political decision by the Palestinian leadership and the Arab states to reject the United Nations partition resolution, to try to prevent its implementation by force and to attack the Jewish community in the Land of Israel before and after the state’s establishment.”

    Source: Shlomo Avineri, “The Nakba According to Haaretz,” in (to its credit) Haaretz.

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    Jewish Book Carnival, May 2014 Edition

    My Machberet is proud to serve as May 2014 host for the Jewish Book Carnival, a monthly event where those who cover Jewish books online “can meet, read, and comment on each others’ posts.” The posts are hosted on a participant’s site on the 15th of each month.”

    Herewith, the May 2014 Jewish Book Carnival.

  • My own contribution from My Machberet is a Q&A with Nora Gold regarding her new novel Fields of Exile, which focuses on anti-Israelism in academe.
  • The newest episode of The Book of Life podcast, hosted by librarian Heidi Estrin, features an interview with Karen Propp, who won the 2013 Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award for her work-in-progress Freestyle, based on the true story of champion swimmer Judith Deutsch and the Viennese Hakoah swim team of the 1930s
  • Rebecca Klempner’s blog, Between My Ears and Out of My Mouth, offers a Q&A with Batya Ruddell, whom Rebecca describes as one of the foremost writers in the Hareidi world today, [whose] work is beloved both by readers and other writers.
  • Two items from the Life is Like a Library blog: a review of Donna Jo Napoli’s Storm, narrated by a stowaway on Noah’s Ark, and a report from the Jerusalem Writers’ Seminar, where blogger KSP met favorite authors Yaffa Ganz, Tamar Ansh, and Libi Astaire.
  • Lorri M. Writings & Photography discusses the story of the remarkable Sir Nicholas Winton, especially as depicted in the documentary film Nicky’s Family.
  • On her Reading Rabbi blog, Rabbi Anne Perry explores the presence of Jews and Judaism in work by Pat Conroy. Over on the ReformJudaism.org blog, Rabbi Perry also wrote about two recent books written by Jewish mathematicians: Love and Math by Edward Frenkel, and The Fractalist: Memoir of a Scientific Maverick, by Benoit Mandelbrot.
  • Thanks so much to all of the participants. Please visit the posts linked above and share your thoughts/responses.

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