San Diego Zeekend: October 24-26

This just in from the folks at Zeek:

Zeek, a journal of Jewish thought and culture, invites you to join us October 24-26 in San Diego as we explore personal, spiritual, and political borderlines during an exciting weekend on the theme, Border Crossings.

Cross from the U.S. to Israel with the dance music of Israeli-American sub-dub performer Badawi, who mixes Middle-eastern melodies with New York hip-hop.

Cross from your secular life to new spiritual experience with Mexican Jewish community organizer Jessica Kreimerman Lew and Cantor Kathy Robbins.

Navigate cultural borderlines with poet David Antin, Israeli-Spanish translator Merav Rozenblum, artist Bara Sapir, and artist Eleanor Antin.

Consider the place of the stranger who has crossed the border during discussions with Sanctuary movement activists and leaders, moderated Rabbi Laurie Coskey.

Participate in a Judaism you’ve never experienced before, with an outdoor drumming circle Friday, an LGBTQ-oriented service Saturday morning, a dance party Saturday night and, on Sunday, a drive out to the border with Methodist minister John Fanestil.

You can’t miss this exciting weekend. Experience all three days or drop-in for just a while. But come!”

You’ll find the complete schedule here.

Woman of Letters and Other Goings-on at the Museum of Jewish Heritage

In the current (November) issue of The Writer magazine, I’ve contributed a short news item on Woman of Letters: Irène Némirovsky and Suite Française, an exhibition at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. Woman of Letters runs into March 2009, but if you can’t get to the Museum to see it, you can still check it out online.

Plenty of events are being planned in conjunction with this exhibition, among them a discussion of “Jews in Vichy France” (featuring scholars Robert Paxton and Michael Marrus) and another session on “Irène Némirovsky and the Jewish Question,” with my own former professor, Susan Suleiman, and The New Republic‘s Ruth Franklin. Check out these sessions, and other events planned for this fall at the Museum, right here.

(I won’t be blogging on Yom Kippur. See you back here in a few days.)

Promised Land: Exodus and America, A Festival of Ideas

Planned for October 22-26, 2008, “Promised Land: Exodus and America” is a five-day festival of ideas in Boston organized by the New Center for Arts and Culture and Nextbook and presented in partnership with Northeastern University and the Museum of African American History. The festival “looks at how various Americans–from the Puritans to African American slaves to new immigrants–have adopted and adapted the Exodus story to meet their own material and imaginative needs.” Student discounts are available. To find out more, click here.

Tenth Annual Jewish Children’s Book Writers’ Conference

This message arrived in my e-mailbox this morning.

Some of you may be interested in the Tenth Annual Jewish Children’s Book Writers’ Conference on November 23 at the 92nd Street Y in New York. We invite everyone to attend and ask that you pass on this announcement to others you think might be interested.


Anna Olswanger, Conference Coordinator

Tenth Annual Jewish Children’s Book Writers’ Conference
Sunday, November 23, 2008, 9 AM to 5 PM
92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY
$95 before November 1, $110 after November 1
Fee includes kosher breakfast and lunch

The 92nd Street Y Buttenwieser Library and the Jewish Book Council are cosponsoring the Tenth Annual Jewish Children’s Book Writers’Conference at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan on Sunday, November 23, 2008, from 9:00 am to 5:00 p.m.

Featured speakers are associate agent Michelle Andelman of Andrea Brown Literary Agency, publisher David E. Behrman of Behrman House, executive editor Michelle Frey of Alfred A. Knopf and Crown Books for Young Readers, editor Larry Rosler of Boyds Mills Press, director Joni Sussman of Kar-Ben Publishing, and illustrator’s agent Melissa Turk of Melissa Turk & The Artist Network.

Award-winning author Johanna Hurwitz will give opening remarks, and the day will include sessions on publishing and writing in Israel, the Sydney Taylor Book Award and Manuscript Competitions, and individual consultations with editors and agents from past conferences.

The registration form is available for download at Call 212-415 5544 or e-mail [email protected] for additional information or to request the form by mail. The final registration deadline is November 17.

If you write or illustrate children’s books for the Jewish market, this conference is for you!

Sharing "Un Secret"

Last weekend I saw an extraordinary film: A Secret (“Un Secret“), based on the autobiographical French novel by Philippe Grimbert.

The New York Times review got it right:

To describe “A Secret” as a Holocaust movie would be perfectly accurate but also somewhat misleading. Its chronology is complex and elusive. It shifts from the immediate postwar years into the 1980s…and then back into the anxiety and panic of impending and actual war. In those days Maxime spelled his last name Grinberg, he was married to a woman named Hannah (Ludivine Sagnier) and the two of them occupied the stolid center of a large and complicated extended Jewish family.

That family, as it heads toward catastrophe, is as much the setting of the story as its subject, and their fate as Jews under Nazi occupation is entangled in murky, sticky domestic issues of jealousy, betrayal and desire. An erotic spark ignites the first time Maxime and Tania meet — the day of his wedding to Hannah — and it causes plenty of guilt and tension. But it might have been safely (if agonizingly) extinguished in more peaceful times….

What is most impressive about “A Secret” is the way Mr. Miller artfully and gently gestures toward such enormous themes without spelling them out. Nearly every melodramatic impulse has been suppressed in favor of a calm precision that serves both to intensify and delay the emotional impact of the film’s climactic disclosures.

There is so much more to say about this movie, and given my past studies in 20th century French history, I feel compelled to say it. But I also want to wait until I have the chance to discuss it with one of my mentors and friends to get his take (and to ask him if he agrees with me about one possible anachronism amid all the incredibly good historical detail).

The film is just becoming known here in the United States, where Grimbert will be meeting with American readers/audiences in the coming days. I’ve already ordered the original novel from (it has been published in English in the United States as Memory), and I’m looking forward to hearing what the author of this intense, and intensely sad, story has to say when I attend this event at the Mercantile Library Center for Fiction in Manhattan. Keep an eye out for any Grimbert appearances near you. And go see that movie. ASAP.

Indignation Day is Coming!

September 16 is Indignation Day!

Via the Jewish Book Council “Recommended Reading Newsletter”:

“To celebrate the publication of Philip Roth’s new novel, INDIGNATION, Roth will be doing a live video broadcast out to 50 bookstores across the country on Tuesday, Sept. 16th (aka “Indignation Day”), 8 pm EST. The stores chosen to participate will have a quantity of signed copies on hand.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publisher Rebecca Saletan will introduce the program, and then Philip Roth will be interviewed by the author Ben Taylor. If you are planning on attending, please submit questions in advance for consideration. Instructions can be found at the link below.

Please click the link below to find a participating bookstore in your area:”