Occasional Notes from a Practicing Writer

This past Sunday afternoon, I moderated a panel titled “Addressing Antisemitism in Our Literary Lives” at the 2023 Jewish Book Council Writers’ Conference. In addition to moderating, I participated as a panelist. And below, you’ll find the handout around which most of my remarks were organized.

As I made clear at the session’s outset, I was speaking for myself only—not for the Jewish Book Council, and not for any of my co-panelists, either. I also said that there was no way I’d be able to cover everything there was to say. That would have been the case even if the session had been held before October 7. (In fact, we proposed the panel last summer, which is also when it was accepted. Because, unfortunately, antisemitism in literary and literary-adjacent spaces is not new.)

I hope that you’ll find this to be a helpful resource. (Don’t neglect the footnotes!)

Anti-Semitism dictionary definition

12 thoughts on “Occasional Notes from a Practicing Writer

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this resource. As always, I appreciate everything you do for us Jewish writers.

  2. Thank you for this, Erika. Very helpful! And empowering when I was feeling at a loss.

  3. Carol Dorf says:

    Thank you, Erika. This has been a very challenging time to be a Jewish writer, and I appreciate your list from your talk. I’ve avoided going to some events I ordinarily would have gone to because I don’t have the sense of balance I would need to address the discussion.
    All best,

  4. Eric Locsh says:

    The last two points are perhaps the most important. It’s nice to know there are prominent Jewish authors letting their voices be heard! Thank you

  5. Erika Dreifus says:

    I’m grateful for all of these kind comments.

  6. Cathy Bryant says:

    Thanks Erika. I’ve been wanting more ways to support my Jewish friends and writers. One thing I’ve been told is not to take part in the internet rows on the posts of antisemites, as it gives them more footfall. Other than donating and sending messages to friends, what can I do to help as a non-Jew?

    1. Jessamyn Hope says:

      You’ve already done something. Because this comment cheered me up.

      1. Erika Dreifus says:

        Cathy, Jessamyn is right. Just knowing that you are thinking of us is SUCH a balm. I do think that much of what’s on this list applies to allies, too. You might, for instance, consider amplifying Jewish books/voices where you can. A kidlit creator I know published this excellent advice a while back and has recently reupped it; the guidance is broadly applicable to books for adults as well: https://jewishbooks.blogspot.com/2022/02/guest-post-how-to-support-jewish.html. And thank you, again, for your kindness.

    2. Carol Dorf says:

      I appreciate your note, Cathy.
      Not joining the internet drones would be helpful, and not signing any petitions. I think Jews have a variety of positions on what is currently happening in Israel/Gaza/Palestine. One thing to remind people of is that the immediate families of over half of the Jews in Israel were in the middle east before the 1948 rearrangement of peoples by the British. Talking to your Jewish friends is a good thing. My city council person, who is black and nominally protestant, came to my synagogue to support us after the massacre, as did some of the mainline white Christians from a nearby church. Supporting Jewish and Jewish-Israeli writers by attending their readings and buying their books would also be positive.

      1. Cathy Bryant says:

        Thank you, Jessamyn, Erika and Carol. I’ve been horrified by the attitudes towards Jewish people, and it’s good to have a plan of action! Thank you for your encouragement.

  7. Thank you, Erika! All this is so important right now. I grew up with a lot of antisemitism in the South, but I didn’t (naively) expect to see it again. Thank you.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Thank YOU, George.

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