People are talking about “A Portrait of Jewish Americans: Findings from a Pew Research Center Survey of U.S. Jews.” I’ve tried to keep up with what they are saying, refraining, for the most part, from commenting. (There are many blessings that accompany having a full-time job; in my case, the luxury of focusing quickly, thoughtfully, and in writing on matters of great personal interest isn’t one of them.)
So, over the past several days, I’ve read and listened to others. I’ve found myself agreeing with plenty that some commenters, including Rabbi David Wolpe and Jane Eisner, have had to say. But when I read Elissa Strauss’s “Give Us Our Gen-X Judaism,” disagreement—and a sense of depression—ensued.
And this troubled me, not only because Strauss and I have had numerous agreeable exchanges in the past (even if we haven’t ever met face-to-face), but also because, unlike Wolpe or Eisner, I’m actually part of the cohort on whose behalf Strauss is ostensibly speaking, those “Gen Xers” who were born, as the Pew survey indicates, between 1965 and 1980. And “our” Gen-X Judaism, at least as outlined in Strauss’s post, is definitely not mine. Continue reading ›
My Machberet is proud to serve as September 2013 host for the Jewish Book Carnival, “a monthly event where bloggers who blog about Jewish books 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, this month’s goodies-which also mark the first Carnival of the new year 5774! Continue reading ›
These days, motivated in part by space constraints (I live in a New York City apartment and I’ve run out of bookshelves), and in part by financial ones, I think very hard before I buy a book. Generally speaking, I depend on libraries for many of the books that I don’t receive as review copies. And when I do buy a book, I’m often inclined to purchase the Kindle version.
All of this a preface of sorts. Because something unusual happened a few days ago. I began reading Rutu Modan’s latest book, The Property. Translated by Jessica Cohen, this graphic novel depicts a grandmother-granddaughter pair on a journey from Israel to the grandmother’s native Poland, ostensibly to investigate the reclamation of the grandmother’s former home. About two minutes into my reading, I knew that this book was something special. And even though I read the entire book in one setting, I knew that I’d want to read it again. Maybe more than once. Maybe even after it was due back in the library. So I’ve gone ahead and purchased a copy of my own: a print copy.
In short, I loved this book. But instead of writing a more complete review/description/analysis of my own, I’m going to point you to some illuminating items that are already available online. (I’ll also note that, to date, several of the five-star Goodreads reviews that I’ve read echo my own impressions.) I hope that these materials will help convince you to spend some time with The Property, too:
Review in Paste magazine (includes several sample pages/panels)
Profile of Modan in Publishers Weekly
Extensive interview with Modan in The Comics Journal (also includes excerpts from the book)
And a briefer, but still noteworthy, interview with Modan in Maisonneuve.
Finally, as a bonus of sorts, you might want to read through Modan’s account of “a week in culture” for The Paris Review (trans. Sivan Ben-Horin).
As mentioned on my other blog (Practicing Writing), I recently had the opportunity to speak about Quiet Americans with a group of readers at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage. Following our meeting, we toured the museum’s new exhibit, “Against the Odds: American Jews and the Rescue of Europe’s Refugees, 1933-1941.”
I found the exhibit fascinating and returned another day to explore it more carefully. I also took notes. I was particularly captivated by the exhibit’s introduction to Herman Stern, a German-born Jew who immigrated to the U.S. in 1903. He was 16 at the time. Subsequently, Stern became a successful businessman in North Dakota. And from North Dakota, he managed to help more than 100 Jews escape from Nazi Europe.
I wanted to know more details than the exhibit provided, so I put my research skills to work. Soon enough, I located a biography of Stern in a local college library: Terry Shoptaugh’s “You Have Been Kind Enough to Assist Me”: Herman Stern and the Jewish Refugee Crisis, published in 2008 by the Institute for Regional Studies at North Dakota State University. Continue reading ›