Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen
Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • Coming soon! Open: The Festival of New Jewish Theater at the 14th Street Y in New York will take place June 10-30. I attended last year, and I’m looking forward to dropping by again.
  • The Forward previews a slew of new Jewish books for summer.
  • As I think I’ve mentioned, one of the books I’m hoping to read this summer is Rutu Modan’s The Property (trans. Jessica Cohen), which appears to belong to the ever-growing corpus of “3G” literature. As noted in this week’s Publishers Weekly profile: “Inspired by her family origins and family secrets, [Modan] wanted to write a story about a Jewish grandmother who, with the help of her granddaughter, reclaims her property in Poland that was seized during the war.”
  • Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, which will be published in November, is the inaugural winner of the Natan Book Award. (I happen to be reading an electronic galley of this book at the moment.)
  • Win a bundle of Jewish-interest books from the Jewish Book Council.
  • Shabbat shalom.

    Words of the Week: Andrew Silow-Carroll (on Alice Walker)

    I don’t begrudge Walker her politics. But I would take her seriously only if she demonstrated that she understood the history of the conflict, the legitimate security fears that have undermined Israeli peace efforts, the political pressures that have stymied Israeli peacemakers, the vicious terrorism and hateful rhetoric that has characterized the Palestinian “resistance” for decades and repelled even Israeli moderates; the seemingly unbridgeable divisions within the Palestinian movement itself; and the cruelties on both sides that must be confronted, acknowledged, and repented for before you can even start talking about a solution.

    –Andrew Silow-Carroll, Editor-in-Chief, New Jersey Jewish News.

    Read the full post here. Please.

    You know, like a lot of readers and writers, I used to admire Alice Walker, the author. But Alice Walker, the activist, appalls me. Thank you, Andrew Silow-Carroll, for articulating my own frustrations so eloquently.

    From My Bookshelf: A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel

    I’ve mentioned before how grateful I am to be taking a noncredit course on “Zionist Thought & Statesmanship” this spring. Among other benefits, the seminar has provided me with an excellent reading list. Most recently, I finished reading A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel, by Allis Radosh and Ronald Radosh. (It is worth noting that May 14 will mark the 65th anniversary of the United States, under President Truman’s leadership, becoming the first nation to recognize the State of Israel.)

    TrumanPublished in 2009, the book won the Washington Institute’s Book Prize (for nonfiction books on the Middle East). It received widespread attention; rather than give you a summary/review myself, I’ll point you to some existing analyses.

  • “Zionist in the White House,” by Jonathan Tepperman (New York Times Book Review)
  • Review by Walter Russell Mead (Foreign Affairs)
  • “Success Has Many Parents,” by Daniel E. Levenson (New Vilna Review)
  • But wait–there’s more. Bonus material that I’ve located online includes an excerpt and a video (which I hope to have the opportunity to watch in the near future myself) that features the authors discussing their book at the YIVO Institute.

    Have any of you already read the book? What are your thoughts?

    Theodor Herzl, George Eliot, and Me

    If you follow me on Goodreads, you know that not long ago, I was reading George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda.

    Today’s edition of Jewish Ideas Daily features some reflections on that reading.

    In the beginning, there was Theodor Herzl. Or so I thought. I have a Ph.D. in European history, but I have long been aware of the deficiencies in my knowledge of Jewish history and my Israel literacy. So when I discovered the opportunity to take a non-credit course on Zionism here in New York, I jumped at the chance.

    Once enrolled, I learned just how much Zionist history there was before Herzl. Our initial sessions were devoted to a variety of Zionist forerunners and an extensive documentary legacy that anticipated Herzl’s visionary 1896 pamphlet, The Jewish State.

    I was dutifully taking notes during our second class meeting when our professor mentioned another text that expressed Zionist sentiments well before Herzl took up his mission. But unlike the writings of Rabbis Yehuda Alkalai and Zvi Hirsch Kalischer, or those of Leon Pinsker and Ahad Ha’am, this text was written in English, and by a woman who wasn’t even Jewish. Somewhat surprisingly, it wasn’t a polemic or a pamphlet. It was a novel by George Eliot (the pen name of Mary Anne Evans), Daniel Deronda, published in 1876, 21 years before Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress.

    To read the rest of my essay, please click here.

    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen
    Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • Can you describe your Jewish mom in six words? The Forward would like you to try.
  • “This is a complicated story, but here goes.” So begins Joan Acocella’s (The New Yorker) tale of book-reviewing, Primo Levi, and Israel.
  • This month’s Jewish Book Carnival is hosted by the Jewish Book Council, and there are some real goodies included.
  • A fascinating glimpse into Albert Einstein’s last speech.
  • Finally, I wish I could attend the “Holocaust Lives” panel at this weekend’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Panelists include Jonathan Kirsch, Jewish Journal Books Editor and author of a book I’m especially eager to read: The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan. (See Michael Berenbaum’s review.)
  • Shabbat shalom.