"Jerusalem is a port city on the shore of eternity," wrote poet Yehuda Amichai." Last week, contemporary Israeli writers and translated-into-Hebrew international writers sailed into the Fourth International Writers Festival in Jerusalem for conversations, encounters, music and films that were articulate, bracing, confrontational, moving and at times inspirational.
Charlotte Wolff died in 1986 and today is little known beyond an esoteric reading public. Plunkett Lake Press has just released an electronic edition of her autobiography, “Hindsight,” first published in 1980.
Avivah Zornberg overlays a dizzying tapestry of midrashic, psychoanalytic and literary sources on her biblical themes. Her most satisfied listeners allow for the unmooring of the categorical mind. Zornberg, most recently the author of “The Murmuring Deep: Reflections on the Biblical Unconscious,” suggests that the hidden meaning of our classical texts is best perceived with our own porous and poetic unconscious minds.
Any discussion on the topic of “the costs of assimilation” into American society is likely to draw a crowd, especially in New York, and especially in our current climate. But when the Live from the NYPL series announced that acclaimed authors André Aciman and Nicole Krauss would be speaking, the April 22 event sold out.
The Jewish Book Council has bestowed its Lifetime Achievement Award in past years on literary figures Philip Roth and Cynthia Ozick. This year’s award, however, went to someone not as well known in the world of literature, but who has contributed to the Jewish community as well as the world of literature and science.
Ask most rabbis what their number one recommendation is for "saving" the Jewish future and they will point to Jewish literacy. Helping young Jews become more literate about Jewish history, culture and religion is a top priority for Jewish leaders on college campuses. The way to do this is by getting them to read books about a whole host of Jewish themes and topics. Rather than telling college students to read a history of the Jewish people and having them feel like they have one more 4-credit course to take, innovative Jewish educators are envisioning new ways to encourage Jewish literacy. I was impressed when I learned of a new program being implemented at Brown University to get college students excited about reading books with Jewish themes.
What is it that identifies secular Jews as a people -- be they Israeli or of the Diaspora, progressive or neo-con, early feminists or members of the Larry David fan club -- across generations and throughout the world?
In our secular, liberal age, the Bible and the classics often get a bad rap. The Bible represents everything modernity is not—free inquiry, divested of hoary beliefs—while the classics are often snidely dismissed as the hubristic fantasies of aging, if not already dead white males.