My Machberet

“Machberet” is the Hebrew word for notebook. Since it’s also (appropriately) one of the very first words I learned in my first Hebrew school in Brooklyn (and, until I returned to language study well into adulthood, one of the few conversational Hebrew words I still remembered), I’ve chosen it to title this blog, where I offer write-ups on Jewish news (especially of the literary sort) and occasional commentary.

Words of the Week

When we ask God to remember the souls of our departed at Yizkor, we request more than a mere mental act. We pray implicitly that by focusing on our loved ones’ souls, God will take action on their behalf and save them from whatever pain they may be suffering, wherever they may be. At the same time, the implication is that this act of remembrance also constitutes a guarantee of Jewish community—well beyond just those we remember, and far beyond us as well. In remembering and in asking for God’s remembrance, we request divine help in continuing our people’s trajectory beyond ourselves, to achieve the ultimate aims of our people’s history. Yizkor is, in the end, not a prayer for the dead, but a promise by the living.

Source: Rabbi Aaron Panken (z”l).

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Words of the Week

“You don’t have to pretend that text study isn’t a religious pursuit just to be hip. And you don’t have to be hip to be culturally relevant. I didn’t understand all of the art I saw, but what I understood that night was relevant, and meaningful, an act of bringing Torah into the world.

When you study a Jewish text and create new meaning out of it, you engage in the most central practice in the Jewish religion.”

Source: David A.M. Wilensky, “Getting Drunk on Jewish Texts and Arts at LABA Launch” (J, The Jewish News of Northern California)