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My Year in Jewish Books (2012 edition)

Last year, I 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 2012.

Reviewing my reading for 2012 (thank you, Goodreads!), I can see that I do not and would not ever limit my reading to “Jewish books” exclusively. (By the way, I define “Jewish books” as books with substantive Jewish content/themes. In my view, non-Jewish authors can write “Jewish books.” And Jewish authors can write books that don’t strike me as particularly Jewish. I read several of those books this year, too.)

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. Continue reading ›

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Jewish Book Carnival (Plus an Announcement About My Newest Role)

It’s mid-month, which means that it’s once again time for the Jewish Book Carnival, organized by the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL). Please click through to find all the posts on Jewish books and writing that the Carnival contributors are sharing this month.

You’ll see, too, that we’ll be hosting the Carnival right here on My Machberet next month. And there’s one more exciting announcement included in the Carnival: Yours truly will be the AJL’s Facebook Writer-in-Residence during the month of December. Don’t miss any of those posts and discussions! “Like” the AJL’s Facebook page today!

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From My Bookshelf: Zayde Comes to Live, by Sheri Sinykin

The children’s book market isn’t an area I know especially well. But when Sheri Sinykin contacted me to see if I’d be interested in a review copy of her picture book, Zayde Comes to Live (illustrated by Kristina Swarner; Peachtree Publishers; release date October 1, 2012), I accepted. Gratefully.

The story introduces us to Rachel, a young Jewish girl whose grandfather (“Zayde”) has come to live with her family. “It’s because he is dying,” Rachel tells us. And Rachel is worried, because she doesn’t know where Zayde will go after he dies.

I’m many years older than the fictional Rachel, and I still don’t quite understand what Judaism teaches about where we go after we die. Like Rachel, however, I take comfort in the teachings shared in this book, particularly about Olam Ha-Ba, the World to Come.

The illustrations are lovely, and the words simple. Everything combines to convey the difficulty–and necessity–of saying good-bye.

I’ve seen a review on Goodreads in which another reader remarked that Zayde Comes to Live brought tears to her eyes. It brought tears to mine, too.

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Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Happy to share some pre-Shabbat literary links.

  • If you’re in the NYC area and looking for a book group to join, you may want to consider this one, from the Center for Jewish History: a book club that’s free and open to the public. The club will kick off on July 16 with a discussion of Ellen Ullman’s By Blood. More info here.
  • MyJewishLearning.com is hiring an Editor. (This job is based in New York.)
  • You still have a few days to enter a giveaway and win a copy of Ann Koffsky’s book for children, Noah’s Swim-a-Thon.
  • The ever-instructive Adam Kirsch, on “John Updike’s Jewish Novels.”
  • Finally, even if you don’t click through and read anything else I’m pointing you to, please read Judy Bolton-Fasman’s simply superb–and beautifully written–“Letter to Alice Walker.”
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    Jewish Children’s Books at BEA

    Our regularly scheduled “Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat” will return next week. But I’ve been on “staycation” this week here in New York City, and I haven’t been keeping up with the online offerings quite as assiduously as usual.

    On the other hand, I did have the chance to stop by the Book Expo America (BEA) trade show yesterday. I expected to be entranced by all of the new and forthcoming books for adults (and I was), but I’m not sure I was fully prepared for the enormous appeal of the displays of books for children.

    Including the displays set up by Kar-Ben Publishing, a wonderful source for Jewish-themed books for children. The Kar-Ben displays were among the first I saw, and my chat with publisher Joni Sussman was my first BEA conversation of the morning. Take a peek at some of the books she told me about (Aunt Erika is already preparing that Chanukah gift list!) and find others on the Kar-Ben website.

    Shabbat shalom!

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    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen


    It’s time for the weekly batch of Internet finds of Jewish literary interest.

  • Let’s begin here: Did you know that Cynthia Ozick has written a novel set in a Jewish day school?
  • On the Jewish flavor of the works of Maurice Sendak.
  • Summer internship opportunity (albeit unpaid) with the Jewish Book Council.
  • And a job announcement from the Forward, which is looking for an Arts & Culture Editor.
  • Finally, a personal note: This week marked the 30th anniversary of my becoming a Bat Mitzvah. The secular and Hebrew calendars seem to be aligned, because this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Emor, was mine. Last year, New Vilna Review published Emor,” a poem inspired by my attendance at a more recent May Bat Mitzvah ceremony.
  • Shabbat shalom.

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