Religion and Literature in Jerusalem

February 23, 2009 by

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This week I had the opportunity to hear six famous authors discuss their views on religion and literature in Jerusalem. As part of the 24th Jerusalem International Book Fair, a biannual festival that brings together authors, editors, and agents from around the world, Jerusalem-based literary agent Deborah Harris organized a literary encounter of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim writers at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute for Theological Studies. The event, which lasted for three hours on a Tuesday afternoon, was moderated by Dr. Michael Neumann, a professor of political science at Humboldt University in Berlin. Neumann began by introducing the six participating writers: Italian novelist Eri Deluca, Israeli novelist and TV show host Dov Elbaum, American novelist Mary Gordon, Israeli novelist Michal Govrin, Israeli-Arab novelist and newspaper columnist Sayed Kashua, and Afghan author Atiq Rahimi. Below are some of the comments they shared as part of a discussion about the role of religion in the creation of literature, and the influence of literary culture on religious conflict.

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Reviewing the Reviews

January 27, 2009 by

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When I was growing up, The New York Times Book Review arrived on our doorstep every Saturday morning with the rest of the paper, and I was always the first to read it. I had little interest in the front-page news; each week, I cast aside headlines about wars and elections and dove straight into the book review. I was excited to see what new books had come out, which of the authors I had already read had published a new book, and how readers had responded to the previous week’s reviews. Later, when I began working in publishing, I had other reasons for my addiction to the Book Review section: I wanted to see whether any of the books I had worked on had made it to the bestseller list (um, never), and how the books published by rival companies had fared. I wouldn’t leave the breakfast table until I had read the whole section cover to cover, which meant that on most Shabbat mornings, I arrived quite late to shul….

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The Frankfurt Book Fair

December 19, 2008 by

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Makom editorial note: this blog was written before the current situation in Gaza but we have held it offline until now. Now that the situation appears to be stabilizing, we are putting the blog up, and hope that our blogs will continue to look at wider perspectives on the place of Israel in Jewish life.

I attended the Frankfurt Book Fair as an emissary of the State of Israel, though it was only after I returned that I realized that this was the case.

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Nessya

December 2, 2008 by

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My friend Nessya lives in the Katamonim neighborhood, on one of the long residential streets that winds its way slowly down south to Malcha. It is a poor section of Jerusalem, but a warm and friendly place to live – most people know each other by sight and greet one another by name, and on Shabbat afternoon they sit on their porches and talk in large groups until after the sun goes down.

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Ten Ways in Which the “Selichot Season” Concert of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra Differs From a Concert Anywhere Else in the World

October 5, 2008 by

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Ten Ways in Which the “Selichot Season” Concert of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra Differs From a Concert Anywhere Else in the World

  1. The concert begins when a world-famous clarinetist enters from the back row playing Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold), encouraging the audience to sing along as he makes his way through the aisles.
  2. In between musical pieces the aforementioned clarinetist uses his instrument to blast a Tekia, Shvarim, Truah, Tekia, sounding even better than a real shofar! (Could’ve fooled me.)
  3. Three cell phones go off during the slow, quiet mandolin solo, destroying the audience’s rapt concentration. To Full Post

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