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10 Ways to Celebrate Jewish Book Month

book.month.poster.2013The Holy Days are barely behind us, and we’re already preparing for Hanukkah (the first day of which, as some have realized, coincides with American Thanksgiving this year). But between these events comes something else that should be on your calendar: Jewish Book Month.

Running this year from October 26 to November 26, Jewish Book Month is associated most visibly with the New York-based Jewish Book Council. Many of the author visits to North American synagogues and Jewish community centers that are highlights of local Jewish book festivals occur during this time period. Check this list of sites associated with the Jewish Book Council to see what may be planned during Jewish Book Month in your area.

But whether you’re in New York or New Zealand, you can find ways to appreciate the richness and diversity of Jewish books and writing over the next month. Here are 10 suggestions:

Read the rest of my article for The Forward‘s Arty Semite blog right here.

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Beyond Birthright: How Fortysomethings Can Cultivate Jewish Connections

ejewishphilanthropyToday’s eJewish Philanthropy newsletter includes an article by yours truly. Especially if you happen to a Jewish fortysomething, I hope you’ll spend a few moments reading “Beyond Birthright: How Fortysomethings Can Cultivate Jewish Connections.” (Lots of ideas here for those seeking Jewishly-inflected reading and writing resources, by the way.) Thanks in advance for taking a look!

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From My Bookshelf: Biography of the Heroic Herman Stern

ShoptaughAs 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 ›

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Upcoming Seminar on Teaching Holocaust Literature; Applications due October 21

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has issued a call for applications for participation in the 2014 Jack and Anita Hess Faculty Seminar, “Holocaust Literature: Teaching Fiction and Poetry,” which will run January 3-8, 2014.

The Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies announces the 2014 Jack and Anita Hess Faculty Seminar. This year’s Hess Seminar is designed for professors who are teaching or preparing to teach English, Jewish studies, modern languages, literature, or other courses that have a Holocaust-related literature component. Sessions will focus on imaginative responses to the Holocaust created by a variety of writers, from those writing during the Holocaust to survivors to second generation authors to those without an explicit family connection to this event.

The seminar will be co-led by Anita Norich, from the Department of English Language and Literature and the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at University of Michigan, and Erin McGlothlin, from the Departments of Germanic Languages and Literatures and of Jewish, Islamic and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Washington University in St. Louis.

Applications are due on October 21, 2013. For application guidelines, please visit the museum’s website.

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Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of Jewish literary news from around the Web.

  • First up: This week’s New Yorker features a new story by Lara Vapnyar, “Fischer vs. Spassky.” Bonus: Deborah Treisman’s Q&A with Vapnyar about the story.
  • Next: Nina Badzin reviews a new anthology titled Living Jewishly: A Snapshot of a Generation.
  • I learned about the life and work of poet Naomi Replansky this week thanks to Benjamin Ivry’s coverage for The Forward.
  • “On October 16, Leo Baeck Institute will unveil DigiBaeck – a comprehensive digital version of its collections to be made available to all for free online. DigiBaeck encompasses more than 3.5 million pages of documents from German-Jewish history.” Attend the launch (or watch streaming video online).
  • Writing a Jewish-themed YA novel? “In honor of Jewish Book Month, The Whole Megillah is hosting its second annual Write Your Own Megillah event. Think of it as the Jewish equivalent of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). From November 7 through December 7, 2012, you’ll have the opportunity to write the novel you’ve always wanted to write.”
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    “We Are Still Here,” A Documentary Film by Evan Kleinman

    It’s no secret that I have a special interest in how members of the so-called “third generation” have responded to their family Holocaust histories. And that interest motivated me to attend an event here in New York City last week: a screening of Evan Kleinman’s documentary, “We Are Still Here.” Held at the Museum of Tolerance (which I was visiting for the first time), the screening was co-sponsored by the Museum and The Blue Card Fund‘s Young Leadership Division.

    The film introduces us to Evan’s family, including his Polish-born paternal grandparents. It documents a journey to Poland undertaken by Evan, his parents, and his sister. The audience at our screening was especially privileged to have all of these Kleinmans (and others!) in attendance last week.

    I was reminded, yet again, that every time you may think you’ve heard all of the “Holocaust stories” there are to tell, you’re proven wrong. And there’s something truly remarkable when it’s those who “are still here” who do the storytelling.

    The next screening of “We Are Still Here” will take place in Boston on August 23rd. If you have the opportunity to attend, seize it.

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