“We Are Still Here,” A Documentary Film by Evan Kleinman


It’s no secret that I have a special interest in how members of the so-called “third generation” have responded to their family Holocaust histories. And that interest motivated me to attend an event here in New York City last week: a screening of Evan Kleinman’s documentary, “We Are Still Here.” Held at the Museum of Tolerance (which I was visiting for the first time), the screening was co-sponsored by the Museum and The Blue Card Fund‘s Young Leadership Division.

The film introduces us to Evan’s family, including his Polish-born paternal grandparents. It documents a journey to Poland undertaken by Evan, his parents, and his sister. The audience at our screening was especially privileged to have all of these Kleinmans (and others!) in attendance last week.

I was reminded, yet again, that every time you may think you’ve heard all of the “Holocaust stories” there are to tell, you’re proven wrong. And there’s something truly remarkable when it’s those who “are still here” who do the storytelling.

The next screening of “We Are Still Here” will take place in Boston on August 23rd. If you have the opportunity to attend, seize it.

Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen
  • The latest Rockower Awards–for excellence in Jewish journalism–have been announced. Mazel tov to all of the honorees. Special kudos to some bylines/pubs/websites you’ve seen me reference here on My Machberet: Judy Bolton-Fasman, Andrew Silow-Caroll/New Jersey Jewish Week, The Jewish Week, Jewish Women’s Archive, & JTA.
  • Coming in 2015: a new Jewish arts festival.
  • Much sooner, the house in Brazil where refugee author Stefan Zweig and his wife committed suicide together in 1942–the Casa Stefan Zweig–will open as a museum. Benjamin Ivry revisits this author’s history for The Forward.
  • The Jewish Journal‘s Jonathan Kirsch offers some suggestions for summer reading.
  • Themed “Translation/Transformation,” the new Ilanot Review features work by Etgar Keret and Margot Singer and an interview with Evan Fallenberg, among other wonderful items. (I’m thrilled that Lebensraum,” a story from Quiet Americans, is also part of this issue.)
  • Shabbat shalom!

    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen
  • It’s always a good week when the quarterly Jewish Book World arrives in the mail. I’ll signal to you the essays from Sami Rohr Prize winner Gal Beckerman, Rohr Choice Award winner Abigail Green, and Rohr finalist Ruth Franklin. (You can download a digital copy here.)
  • Next up: How about an anthology featuring work by women writers from the Middle East? Great idea! Just leave out the Israelis, please. Or else. (Can you imagine the response if it had been an Israeli author who campaigned for the exclusion of Palestinians?)
  • Benjamin Ivry writes about Swedish-Jewish novelist Stephan Mendel-Enk.
  • Job alert: “The Yiddish Book Center seeks a Program Manager to join a dynamic cultural organization and to join its education team. The program manager will oversee an exciting new national education program designed and led by the Book Center. The program targets Jews in their 20s and will offer week-long sessions exploring diverse aspects of modern Jewish culture and creativity.”
  • “As the publishing world waits with baited breath for the opening of Book Expo America this weekend, the Museum of Jewish Heritage is doing its part by bringing together authors from the Museum family to talk books with visitors. Six survivors and one survivor/US Army vet who have written books – or whose story is told in a book – will sit at tables in the lobby and talk about their books and their experiences during the war.” If you’ll be in NYC this Sunday, consider stopping by for this free event.
  • Shabbat shalom!

    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen
  • The application deadline is approaching for “Great Jewish Books,” a new, free summer program for rising high school juniors and seniors at the Yiddish Book Center. Listen to the Yiddish Book Center’s Academic Director, Josh Lambert, speak with Aaron Lansky about the program, and about an exemplary short story: Philip Roth’s “Defender of the Faith.”
  • The March 2012 issue of Poetry magazine features a section on “The Poetry of Kabbalah.”
  • The archives of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee are going online. Joseph Berger’s article includes the tidbit that Canadian author David Bezmozgis “is working on a novel about the Jewish experience in Crimea. He has tapped the archives to research a Joint-sponsored movement in the 1920s and ’30s to turn penniless shtetl and ghetto Jews into farmers on Soviet collective farms.”
  • Last Sunday, I went to see the Emma Lazarus exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. It will be there for several more months. Try to see it!
  • It’s not online, but my latest poem, “Dayenu” is featured in the new (March-April) issue of Moment magazine. (Page 28 for all of you subscribers!). But Clifford May’s important essay is online.
  • Shabbat shalom!

    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

  • André Aciman writes about Irène Némirovsky.
  • Joan Leegant’s remarkable, Israel-set short story, “Beautiful Souls,” was chosen by Ron Carlson as winner of the 2011 Colorado Review Nelligan Prize. It is extraordinary, as is Leegant’s novel, Wherever You Go, which I finished reading on New Year’s Day. Hope to write more about Leegant’s work soon.
  • The New York Times reviews the Museum of Jewish Heritage’s Emma Lazarus exhibit.
  • More cultural news from NYC: Next week marks the start of the 21st annual New York Jewish Film Festival.
  • Looking for some book-club possibilities? Check out the Jewish Book Council’s themed reading lists.
  • Can you believe that it’s been almost one whole year since my short-story collection, Quiet Americans, was published? To celebrate this anniversary, I’m offering three free copies of my book. There’s no cost to enter this giveaway and the guidelines couldn’t be simpler. Read more here.
  • Shabbat shalom!

    The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats

    If you’ll be in New York before January 29, you must stop by the Jewish Museum and take a walk through a wonderful exhibition, “The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats.”

    When I first heard about this exhibition a few months ago, the very title evoked a pleasing memory. I visualized Peter, the child protagonist of The Snowy Day, as he appeared on the pages of the book before me in my kindergarten classroom in Brooklyn oh-so-many years ago. I remembered the book’s sheer beauty, its vivid colors and the magical way—still astonishing to me as a young reader, still astonishing now—that it captured the very same sense of wonder that I, too, experienced on snowy days.

    Visiting the exhibition this past weekend, I recaptured some of that wonder.

    But I have learned so much more about Keats’s life and work. For starters, the exhibition reveals that Keats was the son of impoverished Eastern European Jewish immigrants. He was born in Brooklyn—as Jacob Ezra Katz.

    This weekend, I was awed anew by his (largely self-cultivated) artistic talent. Moreover, thanks to an exhibit-within-the-exhibit (“From Sambo to Stevie: African-Americans in Picture Books”), I learned a lot that I hadn’t fully appreciated about Keats’s contribution to the history of multicultural children’s literature (and about that subject more broadly).

    Again, I urge you to spend some time at the Jewish Museum exploring the exhibition for yourself. But if that isn’t possible, you can get a substantial glimpse into this remarkable cultural offering online. However, here’s one item that I don’t believe you’ll find online: this sweet and friendly letter from Isaac Bashevis Singer to Ezra Jack Keats. (Please accept my apologies for the quality of my iPhone photo. I’ll confess that I was a bit verklempt in the moment, too!)

    P.S. If I haven’t sufficiently swayed you, please read this take on the exhibition from The New York Times. That should do it!

    USHMM Seeks Contract Researcher/Writer in D.C.

    Received this job announcement via email from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington:

    CONTRACT RESEARCHER
    Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

    The Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is creating a multi-volume Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945.

    In support of this effort, the Center is seeking a contract researcher to gather information and write entries on particular sites (specifically, non-SS forced labor camps under governmental agencies and/or private industrial firms), using the Museum’s library and archival holdings as well as other resources in the Washington, DC area. The researcher may have the opportunity to publish his or her work in the encyclopedia. Some translation and editing duties may also be required. Work is to begin as soon as possible.

    Applicants must possess some education beyond the first degree and have experience in historical research and writing. Knowledge of the Holocaust is highly desirable. Applicants must have excellent writing skills in English and a thorough reading knowledge of German; other central- or eastern-European languages are desirable.

    The researcher will not be an employee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, but will perform the work on a contract basis. The initial contract will require delivery of entires and other related products in accordance with a six-month schedule, with extensions to the contract possible after that. Payment will be commensurate with the researcher’s education and experience, ranging between $1,500 and $3,000 per month.

    The researcher will also have the opportunity to participate in Center and Museum events such as colloquia, seminars, workshops, fellows’ discussions and lectures.

    Please send a cover letter indicating dates of availability along with a curriculum vitae and a short writing sample (no more than 1,200 words) by 1 November to:

    Geoffrey P. Megargee, Ph.D.
    Applied Research Scholar
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies
    100 Raoul Wallenberg Place SW
    Washington, DC 20024-2126

    Email submissions are acceptable and may be sent to gmegargee(at)ushmm(dot)org

    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

  • As I’ve already mentioned on my other blog, I hope that by the time The New York Review of Books publishes the second part of “A Jewish Writer in America,” which reflects a talk originally given by Saul Bellow in 1988, I’ll have been able to digest fully part one.
  • On the occasion of the release of MetaMaus, Art Spiegelman’s combination book/DVD about the creation of his famous Maus, Ruth Franklin writes: “What MetaMaus makes clear is that Maus, like the works of W.G. Sebald, exists somewhere outside of the genres as they are normally defined: We might call it ‘testimonially based Holocaust representation.’ But no matter what it is called, it gives the lie to the critics of Holocaust literature (as well as certain writers of it) who have insisted that either everything must be true or nothing is true.”
  • From The Literary Saloon’s M.A. Orthofer: “It’s always fun when literature and politics get mixed up, and Giulio Meotti’s wacky op-ed at Ynet, wondering: ‘Why do most of Israel’s prominent writers go easy on Jewish State’s enemies ?’ — which apparently amounts to Israel’s literary tragedy — is a fine example.” I agree with Orthofer that the argument isn’t handled well. But I’m less “indifferent” to that argument than he is.
  • New exhibit at the Yiddish Book Center in western Massachusetts: Isaac Bashevis Singer and his Artists. Runs October 16, 2011-February 15, 2012.
  • Andrew Silow-Carroll highlights an amusing anecdote related in Dwight Garner’s review of the new memoir by author Bruce Jay Friedman.
  • Shabbat shalom!