Words of the Week

“Editors are on high alert to remove racist rhetoric or sexist statements, or anything veering close to it. And it’s a good thing. No one should have to open a newspaper and read a columnist writing something like what President Trump shamefully stated, that Mexicans are ‘all rapists,’ or an ‘editorial’ stating that women are ‘all whores.’

Unfortunately, in incident after incident, editors of mainstream American publications simply do not recognize anti-Semitism when they see it.

Nor do they seem to notice conspiracy theories, or think it’s important to stop their spread — something deeply dangerous for every inch of our democracy.”

Source: Aviya Kushner, “Can Editors Recognize Anti-Semitism? An Article About Soros Suggests No” (The Forward)

Jewish Short Stories: Reflections & Recommendations

Held for the first time entirely online, the recent Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) conference featured an array of superlative sessions. In one, during which veteran librarians shared tips for leading book clubs and similar groups, the subject of Jewish short stories came up.

For reasons that I cannot understand, some readers resist short stories. Happily, some groups and leaders nonetheless may select an entire collection for discussion. Others focus on a single story by one author for one session and move on to something that someone else wrote the next time.

To source their reading, plenty of book clubs routinely turn to the late, great Big Names: Grace Paley, Philip Roth, Isaac Bashevis Singer. But recently, librarians and other facilitators/instructors—and I include myself here—have introduced selections from or entire short-fiction collections by a new generation: Molly Antopol, David Bezmozgis, Rachel Hall, Margot Singer, Ayelet Tsabari, and many superbly talented others.

Some of this short-story conference discussion popped up anew last week on Facebook. Thanks to my own work as a writer, I’m aware that a great deal of excellent short fiction lives—temporarily or forever— uncollected in book form. Even better, if you’re seeking stories that you can share with your group/students via a simple link, much of this work exists online, in freely accessible form.

So I offered to compile for my librarian friends a list of Jewish short stories which, if they depend on book recommendations from library/publishing trade publications, they might not routinely encounter. And I’m sharing this with everyone.