The Arty Semite

30 Days, 30 Texts: Conclusion

By Carolyn Starman Hessel

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite has partnered with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Jewish Book Council director Carolyn Starman Hessel concludes the series.

What Jewish book has had its greatest influence on me? I believe the first step is to address the much discussed question: “what is a Jewish book?” A Jewish book is either one with overt Jewish content regardless of the author’s background, or one with no obvious Jewish content but written by a Jewish author. Being a writer is such a personal endeavor: a Jewish person sees the world through Jewish eyes and writes with a Jewish pen.

What is the Jewish book that most influenced my life? It must be the Tanach, for it is from this that Jewish life and literature emerged. In addition, all books of Jewish interest were born here. The Jewish teachings and values we hold dear and that reflect on all of our writings come from this one source.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Jewish Book Month, Jewish Book Council, JESNA, Books, Carolyn Starman Hessel, 30 Days 30 Texts, Nicole Krauss

30 Days, 30 Texts: 'The Jewish Way'

By Michael Miloff

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Michael Miloff writes about “The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays” by Irving Greenberg.

I grew up loving the joyous sights, smells, sounds and tastes of Jewish holidays. Although my sense of Jewish identity stayed strong, as I grew older, I grew farther from Jewish institutions and literacy until, late, in life I had children, provoking an interest in the meanings of Judaism beneath the holiday surfaces.

Around this time, my uncle passed the mantle of our extended family Seder leadership to me, thus occasioning a foray into Jewish writing about Passover. Among the many wonderful books, I found Yitz Greenberg’s “The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays” to be an invaluable source of wisdom, inspiration and critical support for my new role.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yitz Greenberg, The Jewish Way, Michael Miloff, Jewish Book Month, JESNA, Jewish Book Council, Books, 30 Days 30 Texts

30 Days, 30 Texts: 'Shema is for Real'

By Ira J. Wise

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Ira J. Wise writes about “Shema is For Real: A Book on Prayer and Other Tangents” by Joel Grishaver.

Joel Grishaver

“In case of fire, throw this book in…”

So begins a religious school text book that was as revolutionary as the internet and social media are today. Joel Grishaver developed this book as graduate student at the University of Chicago, as a counselor at Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute in Oconomowoc, WI, and as a the youth group advisor at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, Il. I was a camper in Wisconsin and a junior youth grouper and religious school student at a neighboring congregation.

“Shema is For Real: A Book on Prayer and Other Tangents was transformative.” It said that we could have experiential learning and out of the box thinking at Sunday school. It said that Jewish learning could be fun and engaging, even if you got the next best teacher. It told us there were more interesting people than the Stickmans.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Joel Grishaver, Jewish Book Month, Jewish Book Council, JESNA, Ira J. Wise, Books, 30 Days 30 Texts, Shema is for Real

30 Days, 30 Texts: 'Engendering Judaism'

By Idit Klein

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Idit Klein writes about “Engendering Judaism: An Inclusive Theology and Ethics” by Rachel Adler.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw a page of Humash. My third grade rabbi pointed at the center of the page and explained, “This is the main story.” He then gestured to the text below, “now here is what someone named Rashi has to say about this.” He gestured to the left, “and here, what someone named Onkelos has to say, too.” He went on to explain that sometimes, Rashi and Onkelos would disagree. Sometimes, I or one of my classmates might have an idea that neither Rashi nor Onkelos mention. Sometimes, we would argue with one another or with him, our teacher, about what the story means. That was all good and just as it should be.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Keshet, Rachel Adler, Jewish Book Month, Jewish Book Council, JESNA, Idit Klein, Engendering Judaism, Books, 30 Days 30 Texts

30 Days, 30 Texts: 'Nine Talmudic Readings'

By Ari Weiss

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Ari Weiss writes about “Nine Talmudic Readings” by Emmanuel Levinas.

I went book shopping during my first week of college in 1999. I had already bought the necessary books for my classes; my goal during this outing was to find new books and new ideas. Wandering through the aisles of the book store, I surprisingly came across a Talmud book in the philosophy section: “Nine Talmudic Readings” by Emmanuel Levinas. In 14 years of day school and yeshiva education, I had not heard of this Talmudical philosopher (or, perhaps a philosopher of Talmud). In the 10 years since, these nine postmodern readings of the Talmud have been central in thinking about the world, justice and Judaism.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Nine Talmudic Readings, Joshua Venture Group, Jewish Book Month, Jewish Book Council, JESNA, Emmanuel Levinas, Books, Ari Weiss, Aggadah, 30 Days 30 Texts, Philosophy, Talmud, Uri L'Tzedek

30 Days, 30 Texts: 'I and Thou'

By Jonathan Woocher

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Jonathan Woocher writes about “I and Thou” by Martin Buber.

Modern thinkers who are Jewish have tended to fall into two groups: those who have had a considerable influence on Jewish life and thought, but little resonance in the wider intellectual world, and those who have had broad impact on modern society and culture, but contributed little to Jewish life. Among the few who have transcended this dichotomy is Martin Buber, the great German-born religious philosopher, Zionist activist, Bible translator and interpreter, and popularizer of Hasidism, who spent the final three decades of his life in Palestine/Israel.

Although I had been aware of Buber from my teen years, it was not until graduate school that I encountered him and his writing in earnest, guided by Professor Maurice Friedman, one of America’s leading Buber scholars and author of a multi-volume biography (which I had the privilege of working on). Buber’s seminal work is, of course, “I and Thou,” the phrase for which he has become famous, first published in 1923. The total corpus of Buber’s work is, however, enormous and wide ranging, much of it scholarly, some of it polemical, nearly all of it devoted in one way or another to articulating a religious humanist philosophy centering around the concept of dialogue as the key to living a life of meaning and purpose.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Martin Buber, Jonathan Woocher, Jewish Book Month, Jewish Book Council, JESNA, I and Thou, Hasidism, Books, Albert Camus, 30 Days 30 Texts, Maurice Friedman

30 Days, 30 Texts: 'On Being a Jewish Feminist'

By Nigel Savage

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Nigel Savage writes about “On Being a Jewish Feminist” by Susannah Heschel.

Susannah Heschel

I read Susannah Heschel’s “On Being a Jewish Feminist” in the mid-1980s, when I was an English junior-year abroad student at Georgetown, in Washington D.C. I don’t know how or why I happened to see it, or buy it, or read it. Perhaps the title alone was startling for an English Jew who had grown up in a small and very old-fashioned Orthodox shul and cheder. I had stopped being observant at the age of 15, when I realized that the literal “bereishit bara elohim” that was being taught to me simply made no sense.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Susannah Heschel, Nigel Savage, On Being a Jewish Feminist, Jewish Book Month, Jewish Book Council, JESNA, Books, 30 Days 30 Texts

30 Days, 30 Texts: 'Great Jews Since Bible Times'

By Jonathan D. Sarna

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Jonathan D. Sarna writes about “Great Jews Since Bible Times” by Elma Ehrlich Levinger.

My first Jewish history book recounted the entire story of “great Jews since bible times” in 160 pages.

One of many children’s books written by the writer and educator Elma Ehrlich Levinger, “Great Jews Since Bible Times,” published in 1926, introduced me to a wide range of fascinating characters, 35 in all, from Akiba to Zangwill, and from the Talmud to the 20th century — complete with illustrations. Individual chapters recounted the story of “Hillel, the poor student,” who, when he had no money to pay the door-keeper of his Jewish school, eavesdropped on lessons from the roof, and almost froze to death in a snowstorm; Abraham Ibn Ezra, “The Happy Traveler,” who traversed the world of his day, composing poetry; the philosophers Philo and Spinoza; even the false messiah, Sabbatai Zevi.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Shabbetai Zevi, Solomon Schechter, Spinoza, Philo, Lee Levinger, Mordecai Manuel Noah, Judah Touro, Jewish Book Month, Jonathan D. Sarna, Jewish Book Council, JESNA, Hillel, Isaac Mayer Wise, Israel Zangwill, Haym Salomon, Great Jews Since Bible Times, Books, Elma Ehrlich Levinger, Benjamin Nones, Akiba, Abraham Ibn Ezra, 30 Days 30 Texts, Uriah Phillips Levy

30 Days, 30 Texts: 'The House of Rothschild'

By Dave Weinberg

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Dave Weinberg writes about “The House of Rothschild” by Niall Ferguson.

Five years ago, I spent a weekend perusing through my recently passed father’s library, an immense collection of historical treasures. With every passing year, I am constantly reminded and impressed by the detail at which he could recall dates, theories and placement of each book within our wall-to-wall, categorized library which my father grew over his entire life.

Among the dozens of books I chose that day was “The House of Rothschild” by Niall Ferguson, a two volume biography covering the now three century long historical entirety of the financially prophetic dynasty. Not exactly a quick or light read — yet the underlying themes and stories paint a truly remarkable story of Jewish leadership.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Niall Ferguson, Jewish Book Month, JESNA, Jewish Book Council, House of Rothschild, Books, Dave Weinberg, 30 Days 30 Texts

30 Days, 30 Texts: 'Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy'

By Will Schneider

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Will Schneider writes about “Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy” by Jane Leavy.

One of the seminal moments in the formation of my Jewish identity was when the Dodgers’ ace pitcher Sandy Koufax elected to skip the first game of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur. Since I wouldn’t be born for another 16 years, I owe a debt of gratitude to Jane Leavy’s biography of Koufax, “A Lefty’s Legacy,” which I read when I was in my early 20s at the height of an identity crisis.

I had been struggling alone with my Judaism, trying to balance what I thought were the conflicting realities of self-identifying as Jewish while steering clear of anything that felt observant. Leavy makes it clear that the non-observant Koufax, who didn’t go to services that day, didn’t intend to make one of the most influential statements of the 20th century about Judaism in secular society. Still, his skipping game one resonated with me 40 years later. I later learned that I was not alone, and realized that there are more options than being traditionally observant or nothing at all.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sports, Will Schneider, Sandy Koufax, Slingshot, Jewish Book Month, Jane Leavy, Jewish Book Council, JESNA, Dodgers, Books, Baseball, A Lefty's Legacy, 30 Days 30 Texts, World Series, Yom Kippur

30 Days, 30 Texts: The Torah

By Cheryl Weiner

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Cheryl Weiner writes about the Torah.

Every week, as we read the Torah, we have the opportunity to confront aspects of our identity in the narrative. As we grow, so does the Torah. It is a living book where the outline of a story has been filled in over generations. As a publisher, my Torah was filled with the politics of leadership. As I grew with the feminist movement, so did the women of the Torah. Now as a rabbi, I look through the light of Torah to examine my values, to sustain my sense of integrity and authenticity as a Jew and as an American.

Reading the Torah in its entirety is an extraordinary endeavor. Year after year, I discover stories for the first time and encounter old friends. For example, with each reading, the parashah Toldot has manifested many “me’s.” As a social justice activist, I am the Rebecca who persuades others to manifest her mission. As a chaplain, I am the Rebecca who provides comfort to Isaac at the death of Sarah and the Rebecca who asks God for the meaning of suffering in child-bearing. At my core, I am the fiery red-headed outsider crying for blessing with Esau and I am also Jacob the God wrestler. As I age, I am the Isaac filled with loss. Every exploration, expansion, and extrapolation from the ancient Torah informs the Torah of my identity in transformation.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Union for Reform Judaism, Torah, Samson Raphael Hirsch, Tanakh, Sarah, Robert Alter, Richard E. Friedman, Rebecca, Kehillat Israel, Martin Buber, Joseph Herman Hertz, Jewish Museum of Florida, Jewish Publications Society, Jewish Book Month, Jewish Book Council, JESNA, Jacob, Isaac, J Street, George Robinson, Franz Rosenzweig, Everett Fox, Esau, Cheryl Weiner, Chaim Stern, Books, 30 Days 30 Texts

30 Days, 30 Texts: 'Preparing for the Sabbath'

By Shifra Bronznick

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Shifra Bronznick writes about “Preparing for the Sabbath” by Nessa Rapoport.

Many of the most heartfelt experiences I have enjoyed over the years took place on Shabbat — long lasting meals and lively conversations, birthday celebrations and graduations, encounters with guests I knew only superficially who became intertwined with my life. So many people filled my table; at so many tables, I found a place.

In this age where people record everything in delicious and sometimes agonizing detail, my most powerful cumulative memories are stored in my “Shabbat camera.” Since I do not use a real camera on Shabbat, I instead click my fingers together, and imprint memories on my heart, keep tastes on my tongue, and narrate stories in my soul.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Preparing for the Sabbath, Shifra Bronznick, Nessa Rapoport, Jewish Book Month, Jewish Book Council, JESNA, Books, 30 Days 30 Texts

30 Days, 30 Texts: The Talmud

By Adam Stein

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Adam Stein writes about the Talmud.

Is it cheating to name a huge, multi-volume work when asked to choose one book? Could one even refer to the Talmud as a “book” when, even in the extra-tiny print version on my bookshelf, it spans 20 volumes? Well, maybe it’s cheating, and maybe it’s not a book, but influential, bottomless, and foundational it is.

In rabbinical school, we all looked forward (with dread, that is) to something called the “daf exam.” An oral exam given by three professors, for which we prepared by learning and reviewing 50 pages (front and back) of Talmud over the course of a summer.

I spent that summer studying with several good friends in chevruta, study partners. Three hours with her, three hours with him, a few hours in a small group, and so on: seven, eight, nine hours a day.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Jewish Book Month, Jewish Book Council, JESNA, Books, Adam Stein, 30 Days 30 Texts, Talmud

30 Days, 30 Texts: Gerard Manley Hopkins

By Dan Friedman

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Dan Friedman writes about the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Growing up as a progressive Jew in the North of England, I couldn’t decide whether God was an earnest Divinity of social justice or a Zeus-like Old Testament Man-With-a-Beard. Whichever it was, neither had any hold on me as an angst-y, angry adolescent fan of The Smiths, The Cure and The Wedding Present.

Toward the end of high school, though, I read the poems and “Dark Sonnets” of Jesuit priest and poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. Their intense joy and anguish made theology a real living idea for me. It was eye-opening that the sheer beauty of “The Windhover” with its stunningly evocative: “I caught this morning morning’s minion, kingdom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple- dawn-drawn Falcon,” could co-exist with the despair of “No worst there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief, / More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.”

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: cynghanedd, The Wedding Present, Welsh, The Windhover, The Smiths, The Cure, Romanticism, Pantheism, Poetry, Jewish Book Month, Old English, Jewish Book Council, Jesuits, JESNA, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Heresy, English Poetry, England, Dark Sonnets, Dan Friedman, Catholicism, Books, 30 Days 30 Texts

30 Days, 30 Texts: 'A Tale of Love and Darkness'

By Elise Bernhardt

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Elise Bernhardt writes about “A Tale of Love and Darkness” by Amos Oz.

While as a young person I was devoted to “All-of-a-Kind Family” and then all of Elie Wiesel’s oeuvre, I can’t think of a book besides Amos Oz’s “A Tale of Love and Darkness” that has affected me more as an adult. My recollection of the “All-of-a-Kind” is how it painted a kind of idyllic Jewish family environment, one that I really wanted to live in — so cozy, warm, you could almost smell the good cooking coming from their little kitchen, all good deeds and so forth. For me Wiesel provided the absolute counterpoint, all evil and fear and desperation and I was always left wondering “what would I have done.”

“A Tale of Love and Darkness” was an entirely different experience. I think I’d visited Jerusalem three or four times in recent years (not including some odd visits in the ’70s) prior to my reading it. My sense of Jerusalem was the Old City, the Cinemateque, a bit of the German Colony and my friend Beth’s neighborhood in Arnona. All of a sudden I was living in a primitive town, surrounded by old Arab houses or newfangled villages or odd combinations of the two. Resources were scarce, everyone knew everyone, and wild animals were close by.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: The Kitchen, Jewish Book Month, Kane Street Synagogue, Jewish Book Council, JESNA, Jerusalem, Foundation for Jewish Culture, Fall for Dance, Elise Bernhardt, Elie Wiesel, Dancing in the Streets, Amos Oz, Books, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, All-of-a-Kind Family, A Tale of Love and Darkness, 30 Days 30 Texts

30 Days, 30 Texts: 'Letters to a Buddhist Jew'

By Monica Rozenfeld

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Monica Rozenfeld writes about “”Letters to a Buddhist Jew” by Akiva Tatz and David Gottlieb.

Of all the Jewish books I have read, one that made a big difference in my life is “Letters to a Buddhist Jew.” Its simplistic format of one Buddhist Jew writing to a rabbi he’s never met, Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz, asks the fundamental question about Judaism: Where is God?

Like many Jews, I find it difficult to pour over ancient texts. We find it difficult to grasp the concept of spirituality in a synagogue. Author David Gottlieb, who first wrote to Rabbi Tatz because his wife was disgruntled with his love for Buddhism, asks all the questions I wanted to ask, but maybe was too scared or too unknowing to do so. Where is God in Judaism? How do we find him? Why isn’t Judaism more accessible? More open? More spiritual?

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Letters to a Buddhist Jew, Monica Rozenfeld, Jewish Book Council, Jewish Book Month, JESNA, David Gottlieb, City University of New York, Buddhism, Books, Akiva Tatz, 30 Days 30 Texts

30 Days, 30 Texts: 'The White Boy Shuffle'

By Aaron Bisman

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Aaron Bisman writes about “The White Boy Shuffle” by Paul Beatty.

At 20, on a visit with my Bubbe to the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis, I happened upon a book in the gift shop: “The White Boy Shuffle” by Paul Beatty. I can’t say what attracted me to it, but I picked it up, and have read and re-read it many times since.

“The White Boy Shuffle” is about the discovery of identity within family, historical, geographic, and racial contexts. It is also about the unintended power that comes with leadership and the risks and repercussions that come with it. Sarcastic, poetic, at times bitter and often hilarious, this farce didn’t affect my Jewish journey so much as call it into perspective.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Walker Art Museum, Paul Beatty, The White Boy Shuffle, Matisyahu, Jewish Book Council, JESNA, JDUB, Altshul, Balkan Beat Box, Books, Aaron Bisman, 30 Days 30 Texts

30 Days, 30 Texts: 'All-of-a-Kind Family'

By Lisa Silverman

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Lisa Silverman writes about “All-of-a-Kind Family” by Sydney Taylor.

It was 1967 and I was ten years old when I read this sentence in a book:

“It was heavenly enough to be able to borrow books from the public library, and that was where the children always went on Friday afternoons.”

Was it possible for a children’s writer to have seen into my world? It indeed was “heavenly” to enter that musty red brick building every Friday afternoon, my 10 allotted books in tow, and my heart racing to see what surprises the shelves would offer me.

The day I took home “All-of-a-Kind-Family,” I had almost finished it by the time my mother pulled into our long, suburban driveway. It had been over a year since I had read “Little House on the Prairie,” and I had certainly been charmed by the delightful pioneer family I encountered there, but that family’s history did not resonate with me. Not so with my new book.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sinai Temple, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Lisa Silverman, LIttle House on the Prairie, Jewish Book Council, Jewish Book Month, JESNA, Books, All-of-a-Kind Family, Sydney Taylor

30 Days, 30 Texts: 'Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number'

By Rachel Brodie

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Rachel Brodie writes about “Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number” by Jacobo Timerman.

I was always a conscientious objector (aka bad sport) when teachers used the pedagogic conundrum: If you were stranded on a desert island and could take only one book… until I read Jacobo Timerman’s “Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number.”

I was 16 and as enamored of the low-affect nihilism of Sartre and Beckett as I was fascinated by the manic irreverence of Saturday Night Live and The Clash. At the same time, my favorite subject in school was Talmud and I fantasized about moving to Jerusalem.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Saturday Night Live, Rachel Brodie, Samuel Becket, Prisoner Without a Name Cell Without a Number, Jewish Milestones, Jewish Book Council, Jacobo Timerman, Jean Paul Sartre, JESNA, Argentina, 30 Days 30 Texts, The Clash

30 Days, 30 Texts: A People In Between

By Jane Ramsey

In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Jane Ramsey writes about “A People In Between: The Paradox of Jewish Interstitiality” by Robert J. Marx.

Jane Ramsey

No book has come closer to guiding, reflecting, and transforming my Jewish journey than the yet to be published “A People In Between: The Paradox of Jewish Interstitiality” by Rabbi Robert J. Marx. This provocative book explores the concept and ramifications of the interstitiality of the Jewish people as being “between the parts,” neither the oppressor nor the oppressed, the powerful nor the powerless. Marx brings clarity to the past, present, and future of Judaism through this lens. HIs thorough and bold analysis leads to a hopeful future for Judaism and our Jewish community — if we heed his warnings and fulfill positive, rather than negative, interstitial societal roles. Implied in this conclusion is a Jewish community that actively seeks alliances that lead to a just society.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Robert J. Marx, Jewish Book Council, Jewish Book Month, Jesna, Jane Ramsey, 30 Days 30 Texts




Find us on Facebook!
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.