Zichrono l’vracha

I’ll admit it: Hearing that Vladimir Putin had been named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” did not motivate me to drop everything and read what Time had to say.

On the other hand, learning that Liviu Librescu, the Virginia Tech professor (and Holocaust survivor) who died saving the lives of his students last April, had been named Beliefnet’s “Most Inspiring Person of 2007,” did make me surf right over to find out more.

I didn’t cry this time nearly so much as I did back last spring. Still.

May his memory be forever blessed.

In the News

When I moved (back) to New York last winter, my parents immediately subscribed me to The Jewish Week (thanks, Mom and Dad!). And I have to admit that as each week nears its end, I really appreciate its arrival in my mailbox. Among the items that particularly caught my attention this week:

–Rabbi David Goldstrom’s description of Chanukah in Baghdad;
–Rabbi David Wolpe’s explanation of why we place pebbles on graves; and
–A story I’ve followed elsewhere in the New York press, about an anti-Semitic attack on the subway (and the Muslim passenger who interceded on the victims’ behalf).

Sami Rohr Prize Nonfiction Finalists Named

Faithful readers of my other blog may recall my enthusiastic mention of last May’s ceremony celebrating the fiction winners for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. The Jewish Book Council, which administers the prize, has now selected five finalists for the prize in nonfiction (the genres alternate).

The nonfiction finalists are Ilana M. Blumberg, for Houses of Study: A Jewish Woman Among Books (University of Nebraska Press); Eric L. Goldstein, for The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race and American Identity (Princeton University Press); Lucette Lagnado, for The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family’s Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World (Ecco); Michael Makovsky, for Churchill’s Promised Land: Zionism and Statecraft (Yale University Press); and Haim Watzman, for A Crack in the Earth: A Journey Up Israel’s Rift Valley (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

To learn more about the prize, which awards emerging authors in the field of Jewish literature who have written books of exceptional literary merit stimulating interest in themes of Jewish concern, please click here.

Chanukah Lit

Have there always been so many wonderful essays written about Chanukah? Or is this just the first year I’m noticing? (Or does it simply have something to do with heavy-duty anthology promotion?) For an officially minor holiday, Chanukah seems to be inspiring some truly lovely writing. Here are two more finds: Amy Klein’s “Hanukkah Is in the Holiday Season, Too,” and David Bezmozgis’s “Festival of Birthdays.”

Happy Chanukah

Happy Chanukah! To launch my celebration, I took this quiz over on MyJewishLearning.com. The result: Apparently, I’d get a B-minus in Chanukah studies. Not too impressive, even if I think one of my errors resulted from careless reading. Why don’t you check it out and see how you do? And then be sure to eat some latkes.

And on a more serious note, do read this extraordinary Chanukah-related essay by Joanna Smith Rakoff.