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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, I confess, one of the few conversational Hebrew words I still remember), 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

“The sheer bluntness of far-right anti-Semitism makes it easier to identify and stigmatize as beyond the pale; individuals like David Duke and the hosts of the “Daily Shoah” podcast make no pretense of residing within the mainstream of American political debate. But the humanist appeals of the far left, whose every libel against the Jewish state is paired with a righteous invocation of ‘justice’ for the Palestinian people, invariably trigger repetitive and esoteric debates over whether this or that article, allusion, allegory, statement, policy, or political initiative is anti-Semitic or just critical of Israel. What this difference in self-definition means is that there is rarely, if ever, any argument about the substantive nature of right-wing anti-Semitism (despicable, reprehensible, wicked, choose your adjective), while the very existence of left-wing anti-Semitism is widely doubted and almost always indignantly denied by those accused of practicing it.”

Source: Jamie Kirchick, “The New Jew Hatred: Right and Left” (Commentary)

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Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary Links

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Every Friday My Machberet presents an array of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • Next up on my TBR list: Ilana Kurshan’s If All the Seas Were Ink, which I had the pleasure of hearing the author introduce at an event in New York this week. (For another presentation, see this piece by Judy Bolton-Fasman for JewishBoston.com.)
  • Over on the Hadassah Magazine site, there’s a nice overview (by Peter Ephross) of female (ex-)Soviet writers “who have carved a literary niche for themselves in North America.”
  • A profile of Rachela Krinsky (by yours truly) for the Forward; Krinsky is one of the “dramatis personae” featured in the new book by David E. Fishman, The Book Smugglers: Partisans, Poets, and the Race to Save Jewish Treasures from the Nazis.
  • The Jewish Week‘s fall literary guide is out, and among other highlights, you’ll find there Sandee Brawarsky’s take on Reuven (Ruby) Namdar’s Sapir Prize-winning novel The Ruined House, now available in an English translation by Hillel Halkin.
  • And ICYMI: a couple of #JewLit items were featured over on my Midweek Notes post this week on the Practicing Writing blog.
  • Shabbat shalom!

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    Words of the Week

    “The aforementioned invitation arrived several moments later, to myself and other editors at Tablet, strongly suggesting that it had more to do with stanching the bleeding of a public relations problem that seriously resolving a brutal moral error. Even more insulting and infuriating is the fact that the invitation suggests that the New School sees this as a matter of balancing out two equally legitimate sides, each with its own point of view.”

    Source: Liel Leibovitz (Tablet)

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    Great Jewish Books, 2018 Edition

    (An announcement received from the Great Jewish Books Summer Program at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts; every year, when I receive this announcement, I wish that this program had existed back when I was in high school.)

    At the Great Jewish Books Summer Program, rising high school juniors and seniors read selections from important works of modern Jewish literature and consider how they speak to the opportunities and challenges we face today. Under the guidance of college professors, they consider how the rich legacy of modern Jewish literature can inform us in the twenty-first century.

    Although the program’s focus is on reading, this is not school in any conventional sense: Great Jewish Books is a lively program full of social, cultural, and recreational opportunities—and no grades—for students who read for the love of reading and who are eager to discover the treasures of the Jewish canon.

    Every admitted participant receives a scholarship for the full cost of tuition, room, board, books, and special events. Continue reading ›

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    Words of the Week

    “The Balfour Declaration sought to restore a Jewish homeland while respecting the interests of the non-Jews who share this land. Thirty years later, the UN set out a specific framework for achieving this. This was not acceptable to the Arabs of Palestine and those who spoke for them at the time, since their desire for a first-ever Palestinian state was outweighed by their hostility to the notion of a revived Jewish state alongside them. And it is all too evidently not acceptable to the Palestinian leadership now.

    In declaring diplomatic and legal war on the Balfour Declaration, Palestinian leaders are telling the world — to their and our enduring misfortune — that nothing has changed in 100 years, that their opposition to our state in any borders remains greater than their desire for their own independent entity. A century later, they are affirming that their refusal to share any part of this land with the Jewish people remains absolute.”

    Source: David Horovitz, Times of Israel

    P.S. The My Machberet blog will be on a brief break for the next several days, so you won’t receive the usual pre-Shabbat post on Friday. Thanks for your patience—and see you again next week!

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    Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary Links

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

    Every Friday My Machberet presents an array of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • A treat from HevriaCast: an episode featuring Rachel Kann.
  • Over on the Library Journal site: “Israel in Fiction: Celebrate Jewish Book Month with These Titles by Israeli Authors,” a wonderful overview by Rachel Kamin.
  • Registration is now open for the Jewish Book Council’s Jewish Writers’ Seminar in New York. (I’ll be there!)
  • Via eJewish Philanthropy, I’ve discovered the intriguing Hewish Studio Project. Its Studio AM “is a new creative arts studio in the Bay Area that lifts up the creative potential in each person and offers an accessible, inspiring and creative pathway into Jewish connection and community.” Note an upcoming “immersive” event, to take place in January, for which applications are due November 20. (Partial scholarships may be available.)
  • And this week my the U.K.’s Jewish Chronicle published my latest “View from the U.S.A.” column. In this installment, I look back on where I was—and what I was thinking—one year ago.
  • Shabbat shalom.

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