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My Year in Jewish Books

StarFor the past six years, I’ve found it useful (and kind of fun) to look back on “my year in Jewish books.” So, borrowing some of the same introductory wording, I’m going to attempt to do something similar for 2017.

Reviewing my reading for 2017 (thank you, Goodreads!), 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.)

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.

Below, you will find these books presented in the order in which I read them (most recent first). I have also disclosed how I obtained each book: P (purchase), R (complimentary review copy), L (library [or otherwise borrowed]), G (gift). Continue reading ›

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Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary Links

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Every Friday My Machberet presents an array of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • Next up on my TBR list: Ilana Kurshan’s If All the Seas Were Ink, which I had the pleasure of hearing the author introduce at an event in New York this week. (For another presentation, see this piece by Judy Bolton-Fasman for JewishBoston.com.)
  • Over on the Hadassah Magazine site, there’s a nice overview (by Peter Ephross) of female (ex-)Soviet writers “who have carved a literary niche for themselves in North America.”
  • A profile of Rachela Krinsky (by yours truly) for the Forward; Krinsky is one of the “dramatis personae” featured in the new book by David E. Fishman, The Book Smugglers: Partisans, Poets, and the Race to Save Jewish Treasures from the Nazis.
  • The Jewish Week‘s fall literary guide is out, and among other highlights, you’ll find there Sandee Brawarsky’s take on Reuven (Ruby) Namdar’s Sapir Prize-winning novel The Ruined House, now available in an English translation by Hillel Halkin.
  • And ICYMI: a couple of #JewLit items were featured over on my Midweek Notes post this week on the Practicing Writing blog.
  • Shabbat shalom!

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    Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary Links

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen


    Every Friday My Machberet presents an array of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • “12 Jewish Artist-Educators You Should Know” (via eJewishPhilanthropy).
  • Ahead of this weekend’s Boston Book Festival, JewishBoston.com’s Judy Bolton-Fasman interviews Daphne Kalotay, whose Holocaust-related short story “Relativity” is being featured as the winning entry in the festival’s One City One Story contest.
  • Writers I know are buzzing about this new opportunity for kidlit authors to travel to Israel.
  • Hadassah Magazine is looking for freelancers to write about arts and culture, trends and important issues shaping the Jewish community. Journalism experience is required.” For more information/application instructions, scroll down for the call in this Hadassah Magazine newsletter.
  • And ICYMI: Last Friday the Forward published a new essay of mine, about my return to Hebrew School.
  • Shabbat shalom!

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    Words of the Week

    “Ultimately, what upsets me the most is not the existence of swastikas—I have unfortunately been conditioned to expect anti-Semitism in many spaces in America—but rather the failure of our community to acknowledge anti-Semitism as a problem that we must confront in our own circles. I’ve been frustrated and exhausted, attempting to be an advocate for myself and my community when it seems like no one ‘gets’ it. Multiple friends have said, ‘Why are you so upset? What’s the big deal?’ I’ve attempted to answer these questions: because the last time this symbol was widespread, my grandfather lost his entire extended family to death camps. Because epigenetics have shown that trauma is passed down through generations, so my Jewish brothers and sisters are actually feeling the same PTSD that their grandparents developed after the Holocaust. Because anti-Semitism is ignored because of hatred of Israel, or because Jews are assumed to be universally white and therefore unable to be oppressed.”

    Source: Madeline Budman, “How I’m Coping with the Swastikas on My Campus” (Alma)

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    Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary Links

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

    Every Friday My Machberet presents an array of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • Beautiful poem by Julia Knobloch, “The Kabbalist’s Son,” over on Jewcy.
  • Via JTA: “The new PJ Library edition of [football star Julian Edelman]’s ‘Flying High’ includes extra material on the front and back flaps that emphasizes the story’s Jewish content and values. There is also a new reference to Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism. The dedication page includes one of Herzl’s most famous quotes: ‘If you will it, it is no dream.'”
  • I warn you to have tissues at the ready when you watch this powerful Holocaust-related “op-doc” video feature over on NYTimes.com.
  • And then, although it certainly could not have been intended as a “companion” piece, that’s what came to mind as I watched this seven-minute film, via TheAtlantic.com: “In 1939, the German American Bund organized a rally of 20,000 Nazi supporters at Madison Square Garden in New York City. When Academy Award-nominated documentarian Marshall Curry stumbled upon footage of the event in historical archives, he was flabbergasted. Together with Field of Vision, he decided to present the footage as a cautionary tale to Americans.”
  • “Jewish Currents is launching its sixth annual Raynes National Poetry Contest. The submission season runs from October 15, 2017 to January 15, 2018.” This year’s theme is “Facts, Fakes, and Fictions.” NB: Although on my other blog and in my newsletter I limit contest and similar opportunity listing to those that don’t charge fees, I make an exception on the My Machberet blog because the pool for specifically Jewish-lit calls and competitions is so much smaller. So, yes, there’s a fee involved if you want to enter this contest.
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary Links

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

    Every Friday My Machberet presents an array of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • On the “contributions to Israeli literature of writers writing in languages other than Hebrew.”
  • It’s time for the Jewish Book Carnival (hosted for August by Yael Shahar).
  • A review of Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler.
  • Job alert (New York): Hadassah is looking for a Social Media Specialist.
  • There’s obviously been a lot of writing about what happened in Charlottesville last weekend—and its aftermath. Rather than post some of the items that have resonated most with me, I invite you to share some of the readings that you have found most powerful.
  • Shabbat shalom.

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