Words of the Week: Model Language for Wartime Reporting

Having observed this language, more than once, in reporting from The Times of Israel, I share it here as a model for how such statistics should be presented.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says over XXX people have been killed in the fighting, though these figures cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires. The IDF says it has killed over XXX operatives in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

I wish that that Hamas would surrender this minute. That they would return the remaining hostages (including, as awful as this sounds, the bodies of the dead). No more people would die.

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Words of the Week: Mitchell J. Kaplan

“In the narrative war between Israel and Islamism (obviously not the same thing as Islam), the views of one side – the side that has the oil, the side that funds Middle East Studies programs at U.C. Berkeley, Harvard, and many other universities in the United States – are generally given more credence than the views of the other side. Antisemites claim that Jews control the media and even the government. This is of course a lie, and a very old one. The narrative truth of Jewish experience – and of my experience personally – is that Jewish identity is the identity of a tiny minority, struggling to survive in a world of cultural bullies.

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Words of the Week: Book-Award Announcements

While I was away in Israel last week, lots of Jewish book-award news broke. And another announcement came yesterday. Let’s review:

  • The 73rd National Jewish Book Awards. Lots of categories, lots of honors!
  • The 2024 Sydney Taylor Book Awards for “outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience.” Again, do check the full list of honored titles for each category.
  • The 2024 Sophie Brody Medal, which “is given to encourage, recognize and commend outstanding achievement in Jewish literature.” (This one is especially close to my heart because once upon a time, it gave my own Quiet Americans an honorable mention.) Per the announcement: “This year’s winner is James McBride, author of The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store, published by Riverhead, an imprint of Penguin Random House…. Honorable mentions include At The Hour Between Dog and Wolf by Tara Ison published by IG Books; Poland a Green Land: A Novel by Aharon Appelfeld [z”l; translated by Stuart Schoffman z”l] published by Schocken, an imprint of Penguin Random House; Unearthed: A Lost Actress, A Forbidden Book, and a Search for Life in the Shadow of the Holocaust by Meryl Frank, published by Hachette; Palestine, 1936: The Great Revolt and the Roots of the Middle East Conflict by Oren Kessler, published by Rowman & Littlefield; and We Are Not Strangers by Josh Tuininga, published by Abrams Comicarts.
  • The 2024 Association of Jewish Libraries Fiction Award. This is the one that was announced yesterday. This year’s winner is The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride (Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC); honor titles are Kantika by Elizabeth Graver (Metropolitan Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company) and Once We Were Home by Jennifer Rosner (Flatiron Books, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers).

Both the Sydney Taylor Book Awards and the Sophie Brody Medal announcements came alongside similar news from many other award programs clustered within the American Library Association (ALA); I haven’t yet managed to identify all of the “Jewish” books that have been recognized under those other award umbrellas, but if you’ve noted them, please share that news in comments. (I can tell you about one example: my friend Rebecca Klempner’s How to Welcome an Alien [illustrated by Shirley Waisman and published by Kalaniot Books] has received a Golden Duck Notable Picture Book nod from the ALA’s Core Committee Recognizing Excellence in Children’s and Young Adult Science Fiction.)

Congratulations to all of the creators whose work has been recognized through these awards and honors. And an especially hearty Mazal Tov to Rebecca and to the many other friends/colleagues/acquaintances whose names appear on this year’s lists.

Especially right now, it’s important to pause and kvell.

Words of the Week: “When Things Go Right”

Erika’s note: When I read Saragail Benjamin’s words, posted this past weekend within the Jewish Kidlit Mavens Facebook group, I reached out to ask if I might re-publish them here on My Machberet. It is, indeed, “important to speak out when things go wrong,” but “it’s just as important to speak out when things go right.” And that’s why I, too, “wanted to share with you now.” I’m grateful to Saragail for granting permission for me to do so.

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