Responses to Difficult Reading, in Poetry and Prose

The 929 website, if you’re not familiar with it, “invites Jews everywhere to read Tanakh, one chapter a day, together.” Today’s chapter—II Samuel 13—is, as my friend Rabbi Abby Sosland observes, “almost unbearable” reading. Please be forewarned.

But if you can listen to Abby, and read my friend Sivan Rotholz’s reflections, there’s also a poem of mine included in the discussion on 929 today. (The poem, “Complicity,” is also featured in my forthcoming collection.)

Collage of screenshots from today's 929 English webpage, spotlighting contributions from Rabbi Abby Sosland, Sivan Rotholz, and me.

All three pieces—and much more—can be found on this page. (You’ll need to scroll down a bit to find my poem; if you’re in a hurry, here’s a direct link.)

Words of the Week

And now, for something a little different:

Discovered this Uzi Hitman clip via the class I’m taking on Israeli poetry and prayer, where this week we spent quite a bit of time with the “Adon Olam” text and variations.

Words of the Week

“God, Master of the Universe, please make this world safe for our people this year. Next year may we be in Jerusalem, but this year please take care of the Jews in our holy city and in so many other cities: in Marseilles and Copenhagen, in Argentina and Buenos Aires, Kansas and Seattle, Paris and Tunis, Sderot and Toulouse, Brussels and Donetsk. This Passover evening is a ‘night of vigilance’ [Exodus 12:42]. Please watch over us with divine care and compassion. Protect our sacred tombstones and graves from desecration. Protect our synagogues across the globe from Swastikas and shattering glass. Protect our innocent children on their day school playgrounds and our Jewish communal workers in embassies and community centers. Pour out Your wrath against the world’s injustices so that one day, You can pour out Your love. Ani Ma’amin — I believe that day will come. It is not here yet. Together, we will await that day. We will not wait passively. We will partner with you in a covenant to protect our people and remove them from harm’s way. And we will re-affirm in word and deed our daily commitment to justice, goodness and kindness.”

From Dr. Erica Brown’s “Pour Out Your Love?” in The Jewish Week

Whose Gen-X Judaism?

StarPeople are talking about “A Portrait of Jewish Americans: Findings from a Pew Research Center Survey of U.S. Jews.” I’ve tried to keep up with what they are saying, refraining, for the most part, from commenting. (There are many blessings that accompany having a full-time job; in my case, the luxury of focusing quickly, thoughtfully, and in writing on matters of great personal interest isn’t one of them.)

So, over the past several days, I’ve read and listened to others. I’ve found myself agreeing with plenty that some commenters, including Rabbi David Wolpe and Jane Eisner, have had to say. But when I read Elissa Strauss’s “Give Us Our Gen-X Judaism,” disagreement—and a sense of depression—ensued.

And this troubled me, not only because Strauss and I have had numerous agreeable exchanges in the past (even if we haven’t ever met face-to-face), but also because, unlike Wolpe or Eisner, I’m actually part of the cohort on whose behalf Strauss is ostensibly speaking, those “Gen Xers” who were born, as the Pew survey indicates, between 1965 and 1980. And “our” Gen-X Judaism, at least as outlined in Strauss’s post, is definitely not mine. (more…)

Jewish Book Carnival: September 2013

My Machberet is proud to serve as September 2013 host for the Jewish Book Carnival, “a monthly event where bloggers who blog about Jewish books can meet, read, and comment on each others’ posts.” The posts are hosted on a participant’s site on the 15th of each month.

Herewith, this month’s goodies-which also mark the first Carnival of the new year 5774! (more…)

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.

  • What is “Jewish fiction”? In this video from a recent event in Toronto, Dr. Nora Gold shares some thoughts and cites reflections from Allegra Goodman, A.B. Yehoshua, Marge Piercy, Ruth Wisse, and D.G. Myers.
  • Ruth Franklin reviews Holocaust Literature: A History and Guide, by David Roskies and Naomi Diamant.
  • An review of and an excerpt from Rutu Modan’s The Property (trans. Jessica Cohen).
  • “Zutot: Perspectives on Jewish Culture is delighted to announce the establishment of ‘The Amsterdam Prize’ – an annual short essay competition for young scholars.”
  • I meant to share this earlier: one cantor’s reflections on the Unetaneh Tokef prayer, complete with multiple audio clips.
  • Shabbat shalom.

    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

    Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of Jewish literary news from around the Web.

  • First up: The Natan Award is an exciting new prize for a nonfiction book-in-progress. This award “brings Natan’s values of infusing Jewish life with creativity and meaning into the intellectual arena by supporting and promoting a breakthrough book on Jewish themes intended for mainstream audiences.” No entry fee. Applications due December 3.
  • The latest issue of Jewish Book World is now online, in its entirety.
  • Poet Gerald Stern is profiled in The Forward.
  • The Yiddish Book Center has announced a new Translation Fellowship Program for those with at least an intermediate-level proficiency in Yiddish. “Beginning in the winter of 2012, the Center will select five Translation Fellows who will receive yearlong mentorship and training to complete book-length projects in Yiddish translation. As an incentive to produce works of the highest caliber, each Fellow will receive a grant of $5,000.” There is no application fee. Application deadline is November 15, 2012.
  • Finally, I am delighted that my home congregation has added live-streamed services to its offerings. Now I can much more easily share something that’s so important to me with all of you. For example: our senior rabbi’s most recent Rosh Hashanah sermon, archived for everyone to absorb. Let’s just say that there was a lot I agreed with in what he said about Israel this year.
  • Shabbat shalom.