Journalism/Jewish Literature Taglit-Birthright Israel Trip

It’s not often that I wish I were younger–life is just fine right now, thank you–but when I received an announcement from the Jewish Book Council about one particular opportunity, I wished I could be 18-26 again.

The Council is now working with Hillel to provide a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip focused on journalism and Jewish literature. This free trip is open to Jews who are 18-26 years old and have never been on a peer-group trip to Israel. Registration opens next week, and will be open until March 4.

If this trip appeals to you (or might appeal to someone you know who fits the eligibility criteria), click here for more information.

Two Poetry Books TBR

Thanks to two recent reviews, I’m adding two more poetry books to my to-be-read list. The first is Jerusalem-based poet and translator Peter Cole’s Things on Which I’ve Stumbled, which Daisy Fried has reviewed here. The second is Poets on the Edge, an anthology of contemporary Hebrew poetry selected and translated by Tsipi Keller, which Alicia Ostriker discusses here. Hopefully I’ll get to both books soon, and have something to say about them.

Upcoming Literary Events at the Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning

The Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning at Temple Emanu-El in New York has published its Fall 2008 Course Guide, and it includes a number of literary offerings I wanted to note here:

–“What’s Wrong With Our Children?” Parents and Children in Jewish Short Stories (Anne Roiphe)

–Six Decades of Israeli Literature (Basmat Hazan Arnoff)

–Writers’ Beit Midrash: Creative Non-Fiction (Shelly R. Fredman)

For more information, including dates and fees, visit

This Week In Jerusalem

Somewhat belatedly, I’m reading all about the first International Writers Festival in Jerusalem, which took place this past Monday-Thursday (May 12-15). And I’m wishing I’d been there.

You can read some of the press coverage here, here, and, in tandem with coverage of a similar event taking place to celebrate Palestinian literature, here.

Of course, all “boycott” talk I’ve found so far has to do with urges to boycott the Israeli-planned festival, not the Palestinian one (and I’m not going to do the proponents of that cause any favors by linking to anything explaining their “reasoning”). It seems that Nadine Gordimer, in particular, was the target of appeals urging her to cancel her participation. Kudos to Ms. Gordimer for resisting the pressure.

Notes from Around the Web

This week PBS debuts a new series on “The Jewish Americans.” Look for more information on the series Web site.
I’m grateful to Gershom Gorenberg and Hadassah magazine for introducing me to Israeli poet Haim Gouri, in a profile published in the January 2008 issue.
Last month AJC Executive Director spoke in Berlin about “The U.S.-Israel Relationship: Fact and Fiction.” We can now read the text of his speech online.