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: Taffy Brodesser-Akner

“This was a good book to read as I searched in my mind for other times that we cheer on terrorism except for when it’s happening to the Jews. This was a good book to read as the meme of asserting that the ‘questioning’ of Israel’s policies is not anti-Semitism morphed into something that was, by some parties, actually yes quite gleeful and strenuous anti-Semitism, until finally my sisters in Crown Heights began to beseech their male children to cover their yarmulkes with baseball caps and the world around me was heartbreakingly silent as Jews were cornered and threatened here in America for something going on very far away. This was a good book to read as my Jewish friends texted me that this would stop if we could just get Bibi out of power, and I wondered what they texted each other in 1935 as the streets in Europe overheated with pogrom energy and there was no Bibi and no Israel to blame.”

Source: Taffy Brodesser-Akner, “The One About Bibi Netanyahu’s Father and the Perils of Diaspora” (New York Times Book Review)

Jewish Literary Links

an open book (with Hebrew pages visible); subtitle reads "Jewish Literary Links"
Image by Yedidia Klein from Pixabay

Toward the end of each week, the My Machberet blog presents a collection of links, drawn primarily from the world of Jewish books and writing.

  • Happening next week: the First International Agnon Festival. Lots of intriguing literary programming will be streaming in English (and not only about S.Y. Agnon!)—check out the schedule.
  • In honor of Hebrew Book Week, Hebrew-to-English translator Eylon Levy has shared a thread of recommended nonfiction titles.
  • Tablet magazine is accepting applications for its third cohort of journalism fellows, to work fall 2021. “Accepted applicants will work 15-18 hours a week from October through December—preferably at our offices in New York City, although there may be an option for remote work. The fellowship will resemble an internship program in that fellows will be paid ($3,000 for the three-month program), but it will share many traits with journalism school: strong mentorship, a cohort or “class,” frequent group exercises, and guest speakers drawn from the top ranks of journalism.” Application deadline: August 10.
  • Howard Freedman’s latest column for J. focuses on new books of fiction by “Jewish writers with Soviet roots [who] have deep stories to tell.”
  • And ICYMI: Last weekend the America-Israel Friendship League hosted an online event titled “Literary Snapshots from Jerusalem: A Conversation with Deborah Harris & Yaniv Iczkovits,” billed as “a conversation about contemporary Israeli literature through the lens of a top Israeli literary agent and one of her premier authors.” You can find a recording on Facebook.

Words of the Week: Kathryn Wolf

“We are the ragged ranks of isolated objectors doing the dirty work of calling out anti-Zionism in America’s powerhouses and hinterlands. Because that’s the stuff that rots the floor joists, leading to the moral collapse of otherwise good Americans who will grow to favor Deadly Exchange, and reject things like funding the Iron Dome that protects innocent Israeli children from rocket fire.”

Source: Kathryn Wolf, “The Screamers” (Tablet)

Jewish Literary Links

an open book (with Hebrew pages visible); subtitle reads "Jewish Literary Links"
Image by Yedidia Klein from Pixabay

Toward the end of each week, the My Machberet blog presents a collection of links, drawn primarily from the world of Jewish books and writing.

  • I had to miss the recent Zoom session titled “Behind the Scenes with the PJ Library Book Selection Committee,” so, as an aspiring writer of Jewish kidlit, I’m grateful that a recording is now available.
  • The theme of the next issue of arc, “the magazine of the Israel Association of Writers in English,” is community in complexity. “Submissions from residents of Israel and from Israeli citizens everywhere are especially welcome” until July 31. There is no fee to submit; there is also no payment for published work.
  • Over on Tablet, Claire Leibowicz chronicles her pandemic reading in an essay titled “My Year of Reading Old Jewish Men” (some of them don’t seem that old, but the writer is in her twenties, and authors don’t necessarily choose their headlines, anyway).
  • Paid internship opportunity: Check the Twitter thread posted by the Forward‘s new opinion editor, Laura E. Adkins, for details (including an indication that this is a remote position).
  • It hasn’t been an easy week to be a Jewish writer who’s also a Zionist (and I’m too drained as I draft this to get into more detailed definitions of those terms). There’s been this. And this. But there’s also been Nina Lichtenstein’s open letter to The Rumpus. And for that, I am more grateful than I can say (to the writer and to Merion West for publishing the piece). Please read this brave and brilliant piece.

Shabbat shalom.

Jewish Literary Links

Toward the end of each week, the My Machberet blog presents a collection of links, drawn primarily from the world of Jewish books and writing.

  • I had the opportunity a while back to take an early peek at Jennifer Anne Moses’s The Man Who Loved His Wife and Other Stories. (In fact, this collection sourced my very first “Sunday Sentence” for 2021!) It’s a wonderful book, and so I was very glad to find this interview with Moses on the Lilith blog this week.
  • Two film-related books on my radar: Helene Meyers’s Movie-Made Jews: An American Tradition (discount code included here) and Casting a Giant Shadow: The Transnational Shaping of Israeli Cinema, edited by Rachel S. Harris and Dan Chyutin.
  • A hearty mazal tov to Aviya Kushner, whose first full-length poetry collection, Wolf Lamb Bomb, was published this week. Check out this beautiful review on the Jewish Book Council’s website, and consider attending one of the poet’s upcoming events (there’s one this evening!).
  • Speaking of events: I’ve signed up for this (free!) American Jewish University-hosted conversation featuring author Joshua Cohen talking about his latest novel, The Netanyahus. (As of this writing, it appears as though by the time that event takes place, Israel’s prime minister will no longer be named “Netanyahu.”)
  • And if you happen to be (or communicate with) a Harvard University alum, student, or faculty member, I hope that you’ll take note of this important letter, which I’ve already signed. (Some context from me, on Twitter.)

Shabbat shalom.