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About that E-book Membership Choice…

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Expensive Reese (can I name you Reese?),

I not too long ago noticed your #ReesesBookClub announcement the place you revealed Kristin Hannah’s ebook The Nightingale as your March ebook membership choose. Usually, I wouldn’t have even given it a second thought. However I watched the video as a result of a fellow Rioter talked about that the ebook was ostensibly chosen in response to rising antisemitism (as you referenced within the announcement). Oh, and only a be aware on your captions: antisemitism is one phrase, and you’ll be able to learn why right here.

However earlier than we get into the ebook selection, let me say this: as a Jewish father or mother elevating a Jewish youngster, I respect you talking up about antisemitism. I respect you eager to make this related to readers, and to indicate them how harmful antisemitism is, and that it’s a very actual and rising downside within the US. It’s too straightforward to disregard if it doesn’t have an effect on you or to brush it off, and also you aren’t. So for that, I thanks and applaud you.

Which is why it pains me to ask: are there any Jews in your ebook membership group? As a result of I’m beginning to suppose there’s not. I’ll be blunt: this isn’t the very best ebook to decide on if you wish to handle antisemitism. Let me clarify why, after which I’ll share a few of my favourite alternate options.

Kristin Hannah is perhaps a pleasant individual and an exquisite author. However she’s not Jewish, from what I’ve learn and from all the things I’ve gleaned from articles and social media. She admits that she has no private expertise or ties with WWII. She was drawn to the ladies who rescued Jewish kids due to her personal expertise of being a mom. Whereas I can perceive that, it’s additionally not fairly the identical. You wouldn’t select a white author if you happen to had been inquisitive about addressing racism, would you? Or an creator who isn’t Muslim if you happen to needed to deal with Islamophobia, proper? Why, then, is selecting a non-Jewish author okay if you happen to’re attempting to boost consciousness of antisemitism? The very least you might do is select a Jewish author.

In a single interview, she says that being a hidden youngster continues to be not talked about so much. Effectively, if you happen to’re not in Jewish circles, I assume it’s not. However I can let you know that so many people have grown up with tales. Tales of hiding. Tales of rescuers. These are tales we hear annually throughout Yom Hashoah occasions at our synagogues, or tales we all know of buddies’ households. I grew up understanding that a number of of my lecturers escaped. I grew up spending hours on the homes of my buddies’ grandparents, who had numbers on their arms. A number of classmates had grandparents who had been survivors. This was commonplace. So I admit, it gave me pause once I learn that.

Then there are the primary characters within the ebook: Vianne and Isabelle, our heroes. There have been many, many Righteous Among the many Nations – tens of hundreds, the truth is, who saved numerous lives. That’s absolutely one thing to honor. That’s what this ebook honors. The ebook facilities non-Jewish rescuers, not Jewish people. So it’s an odd selection if you happen to’re attempting to give attention to antisemitism.

And the subject. WW2 and the Holocaust. Sure, it’s an necessary historic occasion. Sure, there’s a surprising lack of Holocaust schooling. Sure, an alarming quantity of younger folks don’t know a lot concerning the Holocaust in any respect. However good lord, please don’t scale back us to one of many worst occasions in our historical past. We’re greater than that. (I’ve written about that right here!). It’s actually necessary to acknowledge that antisemitism doesn’t should escalate to Third Reich proportions to be actually shitty. Issues aren’t nice proper now for us. Some Jewish folks don’t really feel comfy sporting their Star of David or Chai necklace outdoors their shirts, or are nervous sporting a kippah. Orthodox Jews, who’re extra visibly Jewish than many different Jews, have constantly been focused for years, most not too long ago when two males had been shot in separate incidents by the identical individual. A current examine discovered that one in 4 hiring managers admitted they’re much less prone to transfer ahead with a Jewish applicant for a job. It’s the on a regular basis small cuts, the microaggressions, the feedback folks make with out realizing who they’re speaking to, the information tales or movies folks ship with good intentions – however you realize what they are saying about good intentions, proper? This stuff add up. It’s the typically overwhelming determination about whether or not to go to synagogue in individual or attend by way of zoom. It’s the fear after dropping my son off at Hebrew college.

However why give attention to our victimization? We’re a vibrant folks, with wonderful holidays, traditions, and a protracted legacy of survival. Acknowledging atrocity is necessary, however so is embracing pleasure, as a result of that in itself might be an act of resistance and reclamation. Studying about, recognizing, and preventing antisemitism doesn’t at all times have to come back within the type of Holocaust lit or Holocaust schooling.

Some Suggestions

cover of One Hundred Saturdays by Michael Frank

In case you nonetheless actually wish to learn Holocaust lit, there’s loads from which to decide on. In case you’re going to decide on WW2 lit, why not go along with a memoir? There are tales that extra folks want to listen to – true tales, not novels, the place it’s straightforward for individuals who may not know sufficient to brush issues off as fiction. Why not select Michael Frank’s One Hundred Saturdays: Stella Levi and the Seek for a Misplaced World, a nonfiction ebook about Levi, who’s a Sephardic Jew and a Holocaust survivor. One other nice possibility: Gerda Weissmann Klein’s All However My Life.

These tales problem us to bear witness. To acknowledge what they survived. In order for you a WW2 story, in my view it’s extra respectful to decide on a real story, as an alternative of what I see as voyeuristic WW2 lit.

However you’ve learn loads of nonfiction on your ebook golf equipment earlier than, so why not try this now? Dara Horn’s Individuals Love Useless Jews: Experiences From A Haunted Current is a superb and blistering take a look at antisemitism right now. Unhealthy Jews: A Historical past of American Jewish Politics and Identities by Emily Tamkin is an incisive take a look at Jewish identification within the US, entangled with this nation’s lengthy, lengthy historical past of antisemitism.

In case you nonetheless favor fiction, Rena Rossner’s The Gentle of the Midnight Stars illustrates the insidious nature of antisemitism, woven along with fairytales and Jewish folklore. Any of Naomi Ragen’s books are wonderful, however what about The Sisters Weiss or Jephte’s Daughter? Books that present Jewish custom, Jewish lives, and Jewish pleasure.

People Love Dead Jews cover image

(Simply as a facet be aware, I do know you sometimes select books that heart ladies, however Michael W. Twitty’s Koshersoul: The Religion and Meals Journey of an African American Jew would even be a tremendous selection. His insights about Jewish identification, his journey, and antisemitism are a lot wanted lately. On your YA ebook membership, why not select Veera Hiranandani’s Tips on how to Discover What You’re Not Trying For, a novel by a Jewish creator that discusses antisemitism with out being concerning the Holocaust?)

One very last thing – The Nightingale has over a million scores on Goodreads. It doesn’t want your endorsement. Maybe your clout could be higher served lifting up a lesser-known ebook/creator.

I do know you’ve made your ebook membership selection, and I see and applaud your work in preventing antisemitism – and thanks on your allyship. I simply want our historical past, our tales, and our survival weren’t continually decreased all the way down to WW2. On the very least, a ebook by a Jewish creator, centering Jewish characters, would have been a more sensible choice.

For these of you who really wish to learn books by Jewish authors, centering Jewish characters, try Matzah E-book Soup E-book Membership.

Reese, if you happen to want ebook ideas, you realize the place to search out me.


In case you’re searching for extra books by Jewish authors, try these Jewish fantasy books, and this put up about 100 must-reads of Jewish fiction.



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