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)

My Year in Jewish Books (2019 edition)

For a number of years, I have found it useful (and kind of fun) to look back on “my year in Jewish books.” Here’s my attempt to do something similar for 2019.

blue Star of David on white background

Reviewing my reading for the past year, I can see that, again, I do not and would not ever limit my reading to “Jewish books” exclusively. (By the way, in case you haven’t heard me say this before, I define “Jewish books” in the simplest terms as books with substantive Jewish content. In my view, non-Jewish authors can write “Jewish books.” And Jewish authors can write books that don’t strike me as overtly Jewish. Occasionally, something may pop up that doesn’t seem to fit this description. I can be flexible.)

But this year, as usual, I did read quite a few books that fall within the “Jewish book” category. And, as an advocate for Jewish literature, I’m proud of that.

What you won’t find here: My own book (Birthright: Poems), which you can be sure I read this year! Nor will you find all the works that I reread in preparation for the course on 21st-Century Jewish Literature that I taught at Baruch College this past fall.

With all of that in place, I’m happy to present the list, complete with annotations that I’ve updated slightly since first writing them as “brief book reviews” immediately after finishing each book:

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Words of the Week

“The facts show that American Jews are mostly safe in this country, New York City included. But recent violent events also show that we cannot take this safety for granted. We can be grateful that anti-Semitism in America today is primarily nonviolent — and all Americans should work hard to make sure that doesn’t change.”

Source: Laura E. Adkins, “Anti-Semitism in the U.S. Isn’t Usually Violent. What If That’s Changing?” (Washington Post)