#LitJAHM24 Mid-Month Update

For this year's literary observance of Jewish American Heritage Month (Jewish Heritage Month in Canda), I'm spotlighting books that embody intersections between Jewish American (and Canadian) experience and Israel. Because for those of us imbued with a sense of K'lal Yisrael (Jewish peoplehood), those intersections matter. Especially this year.

As I explained in the most recent issue of my newsletter for writers, my literary observance of Jewish American Heritage Month (in Canada, Jewish Heritage Month) has a new focus for 2024/5784, one conditioned by what occurred on October 7 and all that’s unfolded since then. Considering, too, that several of this year’s “Modern Jewish Holidays”—including Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day), and Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day)— also fall in May, this month seems to me to provide both an opportunity and a responsibility to highlight books that, in various ways, embody connections and intersections among Jewish people in the United States (and Canada) and in Israel, where just about half of the world’s current Jewish population now lives. Call it a project imbued by the sense of K’lal Yisrael, Jewish peoplehood, which was integral to my own Jewish upbringing, and which I’ve experienced more than ever before since October 7. Or call it a reflection of a key element in this Jewish American’s understanding of her heritage.

To this end, I’ve been highlighting one book each day throughout the month (as last year, on Twitter). And, again similar to last year’s practice, I plan to compile the featured titles at month’s end on Bookshop.

But at the month’s midpoint, I thought that it might make sense to share an update.

Below, then, are the #LitJAHM24 titles featured thus far, with some brief annotations. All of them are titles that I’ve read—some, as you’ll see, I’ve written about, too.

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Jewish Literary Links

an open book (with Hebrew pages visible); subtitle reads "Jewish Literary Links"
Image by Yedidia Klein from Pixabay

Toward the end of each week, the My Machberet blog presents a collection of links, drawn primarily from the world of Jewish books and writing.

  • “For Zion­ist writ­ers (read: many Jew­ish writ­ers) the mes­sage is clear: we are no longer wel­come. Or, rather, we could still be wel­come, but only if we push the part of our­selves that loves Israel, lives in Israel, used to live in Israel, has rel­a­tives in Israel, or oth­er­wise believes that Israel is an invalu­able asset to the Jew­ish peo­ple, deep down into the most secret, unspo­ken recess­es of our minds. In prac­tice, this pre­cludes many of us.” From Yardenne Greenspan’s “We Are No Longer Welcome,” published this week on the Jewish Book Council’s blog.
  • In related news, and as National Poetry Month draws to a close: Judy Bolton-Fasman’s new article for Hadassah cites “two trends impacting the Jewish literary world. One is the rise of antisemitism in the arts world….The second trend is a general surge of interest in poetry.”
  • Speaking of poetry: I’ve been informed that The Deronda Review has archived a set of Israel-focused poems dated October 2023. Many of the poems there indeed reflect the rawness of six months ago.
  • And in the Department-of-In-Every-Generation this Passover week, the Yiddish Book Center has re-upped a powerful short story: Yenta Mash’s “A Seder in the Taiga,” translated by Ellen Cassedy. (If you’re interested in teaching this story [I have], check this resource kit, compiled by Jessica Kirzane.)
My Bookshop list banner for 2023 #JewishAmericanHeritageMonth and #ShortStoryMonth spotlights.
  • Believe it or not, this is the final “Jewish Literary Links” post for April. Although I’m as yet utterly unprepared for it (let’s hope that changes by this time next week), May will bring us Jewish American Heritage Month (in Canada, Jewish Heritage Month). Since May is also Short Story Month, I have, in the past, I spotlighted Jewish-American short-story collections throughout throughout the month on Twitter. I also compiled as many of the selections as I was able to find available on Bookshop. Please consider these titles for your own reading as well as for any lists, displays, or other efforts with which you may be engaged. (By the way, cognizant of the concurrence of Asian American and Pacific Islander [AAPI] Heritage Month, I also highlighted joint and/or intersectional books, events, and resources.) As this May approaches, helpful resources I’ve noticed so far include this JAHM hub (hosted by the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History); another suite of materials from the American Jewish Committee (AJC); and this Canadian site.

Here’s wishing everyone a Shabbat shalom and Moadim l’simcha. Please note that this week I have continue to update the “After October 7: Readings, Recordings, and More”  document-in-progress. Check also cautionary information (also in-progress), compiled under the title “Writers, Beware.”

Jewish Literary Links

an open book (with Hebrew pages visible); subtitle reads "Jewish Literary Links"
Image by Yedidia Klein from Pixabay

Toward the end of each week, the My Machberet blog presents a collection of links, drawn primarily from the world of Jewish books and writing.

Friends, a prefatory note: It’s another week when there’s a lot to share regarding antisemitism in literary spaces. I wish that this weren’t so. It’s overwhelming, frankly—and I’m just sharing what’s public. You have no idea how much of my time has been devoted to this subject outside public view.

I want to start off, however, with some more celebratory and “routine” news.

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