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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

“Jews are a tiny population. And we keep finding ways to splinter ourselves into smaller factions.

If I could hit the ‘reset’ button for 5778, I’d make a plea for kinder disagreement.

We are split on Israel.
We are split on who is authentically or adequately Jewish.
We are split on whether women can be rabbis.
We are split on the U.S. president.
We are split on refugees.

And worst of all, we are split on whether we can even talk honestly about what splinters us.”

From Abigail Pogrebin’s “A Jewish Reset: One People,” in Hitting Reset: A Fresh Start for 5778, a booklet presented by the UJA Federation of New York.

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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.

  • Over on the On Being blog: a beautiful poem, “Reasons for Liturgy,” by my friend Amy Gottlieb.
  • “Reading novels published in the last year by some of America’s best Jewish writers, I found myself struck by a recurring character—Israel. That Jonathan Safran Foer’s Here I Am and Joshua Cohen’s Moving Kings both feature Israel and Israelis as important plot devices might have been a coincidence. But then this fall came Nathan Englander’s Dinner at the Center of the Earth and Nicole Krauss’s Forest Dark, both of which are set mostly in Israel. Something’s going on.” Over on the Jewish Review of Books site, Matti Friedman explores.
  • In “Where Crime Fiction Meets the Talmud,” over on Electric Literature, we’re told that “Tod Goldberg’s gangster-turned-rabbi series is the madcap spiritual noir you didn’t know you were looking for.” I’m intrigued.
  • As the publicist who’s running it, I’m compelled to remind you that there’s still time to enter this giveaway for a chance to win the second volume of Rabbi Shai Held’s The Heart of Torah. (Some superb new attention to Rabbi Held and his work includes a conversation on WBEZ (Chicago)’s “Morning Shift” and marvelous profiles on JewishBoston.com and in The Jewish Week.
  • And ICYMI: two items of my own this week. For Tablet, I wrote something in response to a New York Times-suggested reading list. And right here on My Machberet, I published something that The New Yorker didn’t.
  • Happy 5778 and Shabbat (Shuvah) Shalom.

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    An Open Letter to The New Yorker on Its “Fauda” Coverage

    Since The New Yorker has evidently chosen not to publish a letter I sent in following the release of its September 4 “Television” issue, I am publishing that letter here. Continue reading ›

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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.

  • “It’s funny to be back at camp, almost 30 years later. Teaching writing—not as a crafts elective—but as part of a required Jewish education. It is a Jewish camp, after all, a camp that prides itself on text and learning; that requires campers to take two classes a day despite the fact that they are almost all staunchly allergic to the idea of ‘school’ in the summer.” From a beautiful essay by Sara Lippmann that I’d be sharing even if my name didn’t appear within.
  • A year after the passing of Shimon Peres—the statesman’s memoir appears.
  • This week’s “Israel in Translation” podcast features the poetry of Eli Eliahu (as translated by Kevin Haworth, Adriana X. Jacobs, and Vivian Eden).
  • A new issue of JewishFiction.net went live this week.
  • And a great, inspiring time was had by all at Tuesday evening’s launch event here in New York for Rabbi Shai Held’s The Heart of Torah: Essays on the Weekly Torah Portion. Listen to recordings from the evening. Check out the online photo album. Consult the tour schedule to see if Rabbi Held will be in your neighborhood sometime soon. Enter the current giveaway. And note this discount offer from The Jewish Publication Society.
  • Shabbat shalom, everyone.

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    Words of the Week

    “If given today’s false choice between learning the watch-your-back lessons of Munich or the Blame-Israel-first lessons of Lebanon, I start with Munich. We can’t be pure if we don’t survive. But I’m with the late Leonard Fein – let’s risk the nervous breakdown and navigate the world’s messiness – aspiring to be good, after ensuring we stay alive.”

    Source: Gil Troy, “Sabra, Shatila, and the Rise of the Jewish Voice for Israeli Suicide” (Jerusalem Post)

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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.

  • The Jewish Women’s Archive has announced its list of titles for its 2017-18/5778 Book Club. (And they’ve made some excellent selections!)
  • Over on the PJ Library site, Laurel Snyder has a lovely brief piece on “Writing the Books I Wish I Grew Up With.”
  • Awst Press has been publishing an intriguing series of essays on religion/spirituality. Begin with the curators’ introduction and then peruse the pieces posted to date. (Don’t miss the one by Alicia Jo Rabins.)
  • Got a flash story written in Hebrew? You might want to send it to SmokeLong Quarterly (this does not appear to be a paying opportunity, but I make exceptions for such things on the My Machberet blog).
  • Finally, it’s a bittersweet honor to present my own Tablet piece on an exhibition of the art of Hadar Goldin.
  • Shabbat shalom.

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