Coordinator of Jewish Studies Sought

Welcome to a new My Machberet feature: job listings!

Today I learned that Queens College of The City University of New York is looking for a Coordinator of Jewish Studies for its Center for Jewish Studies. Salary range is indicated as $52,144-$67,092. This appears to be a writing-intensive job requiring a bachelor’s degree and four years of relevant experience; a master’s degree is preferred. A significant portion of the job seems connected with the Center’s Culture and Arts Program. You can read the full announcement here.

(What shall I call this [hopefully] recurring feature? For now, I think I’ll go with “J-Jobs,” as in “Jewish Jobs.” Any other suggestions?)

Blog Discovery: The Book of Life

I’ve just discovered The Book of Life, whose tagline reads “a podcast about Jewish people and the books we read.” I have to admit that I still haven’t fallen completely in love with podcasts, but the blog itself seems well worth reading, with lots of references to Jewish books, writers, and publishers. Host Heidi Estrin directs the library at Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton, Florida, and participates in a number of Jewish book organizations/activities. This is a welcome addition to my link list.

Allegra Goodman’s New New Yorker Essay

I’ve just received the New Yorker‘s summer fiction issue, and while I have yet to read the issue’s fiction proper, I have managed to make my way already through some of its nonfiction essays penned by fiction writers. In this issue, those essays are grouped around the theme of “Faith and Doubt.”

And they include a piece by Allegra Goodman, which begins as follows: “As a young girl, I spent more time outside synagogues than in them. Services were long, and I always found some excuse to get away.” Read the rest here.

Another Stellar Essay from Jessica Apple

Jessica Apple has another must-read essay up on the Nextbook site.

Here are the opening paragraphs:

As a child in Houston, safe within the miniature shtetl of my grandparents’ bayou-side home, I never felt my life was in danger because I was Jewish. I felt comfortable as a Jewish Texan and could easily have waved a Texas flag which bore a Star of David instead of the Lone Star. But more than ten years ago, by the time I decided to move to Israel, I knew Jewish had trumped Texan. Now I’m the mother of two Israeli-born sons, Tom and Guy, and I’m astounded, because last month during Pesach they cornered me and asked me if I’m really Jewish. “But you don’t know anything,” Tom told me after the Seder. “You just make up the words to the songs.” Then Guy added, “And you never went to the army. And you don’t even know how old Israel is going to be.”

“Sixty,” I said.

“No,” Guy said. “Fifty-ten. After fifty-nine comes fifty-ten.”

On Israel’s fifty-tenth birthday, from the window of our Tel Aviv apartment, the boys and I watched the Israeli Air Force flex its muscles with a celebratory air show. Tom and Guy saw a few planes swooping over the Mediterranean and then went back to something more interesting—their Sony PlayStation. I’d been curious to see Tom’s reaction to Independence Day, since the message he’d brought home from school after two months of back-to-back holiday studies had surprised me. After learning about Purim, Passover, Holocaust Remembrance Day, and Memorial Day, this is what Tom said: “Everybody wants to kill us. Haman, Pharaoh, Hitler, Arabs. Everybody wants to kill us.”

I can’t tell Tom he’s wrong. I do make up the words to songs in Hebrew (and in English). And I can’t lie to him and tell him that no one wants to kill Jews, nor do I want to diminish the suffering of our ancestors. But I had the notion that living in Israel I’d be passing on Jewish history and tradition to my children without the paranoia and fear my grandparents so expertly passed on to me.

Read the rest here.

More About That Other N-word

Today I found myself on a college campus, in the departmental offices for an academic area that essentially combines elements of ethnic studies and regional studies. The only identifying detail I’ll add is that the department is not one that focuses on Middle Eastern studies, Islamic studies, or anything similar.

Nonetheless, on a bulletin board devoted to editorials and articles directly related to the department’s focus, I found another item. With the falsely academic title of “Nakbah 101,” this small poster purported to instruct newcomers on the essentials of that subject, complete with explanations on “why Israel is a racist state” and “how the US contributes to the continuing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.” Toward the end there were tips on “what you can do” to “help.”

Alone in the hallway (save, perhaps, for a surveillance camera), I didn’t need anyone to tell me what to do. I removed the poster from the bulletin board. I was angry, yes. But I was also proud of my small, silent act of protest.