Words of the Week: Ambassador Michael Oren

“Unfortunately, we Israelis observe several minutes of silence every year. We stand in silence for the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, for our soldiers who fell defending the state, and for the victims of terror. We stand in silence for the five Israeli tourists recently murdered by a Hezbollah suicide bomber in Bulgaria. And we will stand in silence tomorrow for our athletes who were senselessly killed at Munich. We stand in silence because we remember and honor, and we stand in silence because this is the loudest expression of our humanity.”

Source: Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, for The Washington Post‘s “On Faith.”

Beautifully said, Mr. Ambassador. Thank you.

Words of the Week: Deborah Lipstadt

“I have long inveighed against the tendency of some Jews to see anti-Semitism behind every action that is critical of Israel or of Jews. In recent years some Jews have been inclined to hurl accusations of anti-Semitism even when they are entirely inappropriate. By repeatedly crying out, they risk making others stop listening—especially when the cry is true.

Here the charge is absolutely accurate. This was the greatest tragedy to ever occur during the Olympic Games. Yet the IOC has made it quite clear that these victims are not worth 60 seconds. Imagine for a moment that these athletes had been from the United States, Canada, Australia, or even Germany. No one would think twice about commemorating them. But these athletes came from a country and a people who somehow deserve to be victims. Their lost lives are apparently not worth a minute.”

Read Deborah Lipstadt’s full essay, “Jewish Blood is Cheap,” on Tablet.

Image courtesy of StandWithUs

Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen
Every Friday, My Machberet presents a set of Jewish Literary Links to close out the week.

  • First up: I’m currently reading Francesca Segal’s The Innocents, a novel that updates Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence and transplants it to Jewish London. You still have time to read a copy yourself before the Jewish Book Council’s Twitter chat with the author, which is slated for July 16.
  • Also looking just a bit ahead: If you’re in New York, you may want to catch “Four Jewish Guys: Poetry and Performance,” scheduled for July 19 and featuring Jake Marmer, Jay Michaelson, Yehoshua November, and Philip Terman.
  • Not easy to read, but noteworthy nonetheless: “The American Girl in the Bunker,” a first-person account of a volunteer from New York serving in an IDF paratrooper unit–and dealing with rockets from Gaza.
  • Very different material, but also worth your time: Deborah Eisenberg’s new short story, “Cross Off and Move On.”
  • And over on Bagels and Books, there’s a nice recap of this spring’s Writers’ Festival in Jerusalem.
  • Shabbat shalom!

    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

    Happy to share some pre-Shabbat literary links.

  • If you’re in the NYC area and looking for a book group to join, you may want to consider this one, from the Center for Jewish History: a book club that’s free and open to the public. The club will kick off on July 16 with a discussion of Ellen Ullman’s By Blood. More info here.
  • MyJewishLearning.com is hiring an Editor. (This job is based in New York.)
  • You still have a few days to enter a giveaway and win a copy of Ann Koffsky’s book for children, Noah’s Swim-a-Thon.
  • The ever-instructive Adam Kirsch, on “John Updike’s Jewish Novels.”
  • Finally, even if you don’t click through and read anything else I’m pointing you to, please read Judy Bolton-Fasman’s simply superb–and beautifully written–“Letter to Alice Walker.”
  • Shabbat shalom.

    From My Bookshelf: Fiction by Etgar Keret

    Confession: I frequently read, admire, and link to Israeli author Etgar Keret’s nonfiction/essays (particularly his columns for Tablet), but I haven’t always been as comfortable with Keret’s fiction. I read The Nimrod Flipout when its U.S. publisher sent me a review copy of the English translation several years back (2006), and although I understood what the fuss was about–Keret is one prodigiously talented, not to mention prolific writer–my own reading tastes just don’t hunger for the sheer strangeness–call it experimentalism, fabulism, magical realism, whatever–that seemed to characterize the collection.

    Moreover, back then–around the time of the Second Lebanon War–my nascent interest in attempting to understand contemporary Israel through its literature was intensifying. There was so much about Israel that I, a Diaspora Jew, needed to learn (this remains all too true six years later). Keret’s fables and flash fictions didn’t seem to engage with the seriousness of what the Israelis call hamatzav— “the situation,” namely, the pervasive conflict that suffuses life in their country. It occurred to me only hazily (if at all) that this was a selfish indulgence of my Diaspora self; living within “the situation,” Keret could certainly be excused from spending still more time with it in his fiction.

    But last week, a review-essay on The Millions caught my eye. Titled “The Maturation of Etgar Keret” and written by Bezalel Stern, it captivated me. And it sent me hurrying to add two new volumes to my bookshelf: Suddenly, A Knock on the Door (Keret’s latest book to be released in English, with translations by Nathan Englander, Miriam Shlesinger, and Sondra Silverston) and Four Stories, a slim collection I’ll address in greater detail shortly. (more…)