Culture, Mishegas

What I'm Reading

I’ve been a little quiet here lately (although not in the comments section!). I’ve been busy with work and school and life and jet-setting (if a day trip to Cherry Hill to teach attendees of the USCJ Biennial Convention how to be nicer to gay people counts as jet-setting). But I’ve also found some time to do a bit of reading. My secret? Google reader and the Barnes & Noble e-reader on my phone make multi-tasking while I poop loads of fun, no pun intended. And audiobooks enliven even my minuscule 15-minute commute.
Anyway, dear Jewschool readers, I figure if you’re here, reading this very blog, then you might also enjoy reading (or listening) to the self-same things I am reading (and listening to). So here’s dlevy’s list of recommended reading (and listening) for the moment.
First, let’s talk about Philip Roth. Love him or hate him, it’s hard to deny that his window into the behavior of American Jews in the twentieth century is unique and provocative. I fall into the love him category, although I admit I haven’t read a ton of his work. However, I recently reacquainted myself with the shorts collected in Goodbye, Columbus and Other Stories. I took the audiobook out of the library and have been listening in the car all week. The stories are fantastic, but we know that. The performances here are all equally phenomenal. John “Pippin” Rubinstein, Jerry “I Made Nathan Lane a Star” Zaks, Elliot “I Shtupped Barbra Streisand” Gould, and Theodore “Topol Who?” Bikel each bring their own particular charm to some of Roth’s best. But Harlan Ellison’s rendition of “Defenders of the Faith” elevates the story to new heights. I was totally blown away by his performance, and the way this story of soldiers during WWII came alive through it. I won’t say much more in case some of our readers aren’t familiar with the story, but despite its setting, the issues it raises are still relevant in Jewish communities today. Fantastic.
Outside the world of literature, I’ve found myself visiting and revisiting a bunch of blogs that are worth plugging here.

Cupcake Menorah

Eat Me Daily is not a Jewish blog. It is, as you might guess, a food blog. It’s relatively new on the scene – I believe it’s been around for just over a year – but it’s reliably entertaining, with a mixture of original content and links to fun food stories out there in the interwebs. This week two posts in particular caught my Jewy attention: the Cupcake Menorah and Finagle-a-Bagel Webisodes. !בתאבון
Jew Point 0, the blog of Darim Online, features some interesting insights into how Jewish organizations are using internet technology to achieve their goals. The posts can be a little inside baseball, but as I’ve mentioned before, that’s my thing.
Teddy Bear reading Kafka Comicjew on this might be best described as the Jewschool of Australia, although that doesn’t really do them justice. Like Jewschool, it’s a group-authored blog from a progressive viewpoint. In their own words, they are “jews who ponder, not just wander. we’re writing about stuff. thinking critically. eating jewishly (because we all know how important food is to jewishness, and we all love that that is so).” Chances are, if you like Jewschool, you’ll like jew on this as well.
Punk TorahModern Tribe’s Jewish Life and Style has become the blog home of Punk Torah. The blog is a mix of how-to videos (way more entertaining — and accurate — than eHow) and d’vrei Torah on the weekly parsha, with a smattering of other features and the occasional plug for Modern Tribe’s products. Patrick Arthur and friends break down Judaism to make it accessible with a punk rock attitude mixed with southern hospitality. (You can also follow him on Twitter.)
Old BooksFinally, a blog that I’ve subscribed to with my trusty RSS reader but haven’t had the time to fully explore is The Jewish Writing Project. Envisioned as a place where anyone can share stories about what being Jewish means to them (regardless of how or whether they self-identify as Jewish), the site also has a commitment to quality (that includes an editing process! on the internet! Praise the Lord!) that makes me hopeful.
I’m also gearing up to write my master’s thesis, which looks like it’s going to involve quite a bit of reading about informal Jewish education, technology, modern American-Jewish history, and more, starting real soon. So get ready for some super nerdly over-sharing from me in the coming months.

5 thoughts on “What I'm Reading

  1. Thanks for sharing your own “best reading list” here – new stuff I’m definitely going to check out. And thanks for including JewPoint0 on the list. Your “inside baseball” comment struck me, and I’d love to hear more about your thoughts on what JewPoint0 can and should be to help the Jewish community move forward in successful and meaningful ways using social media. I’m always interested in listening. Happy Hanukkah!

  2. Sorry to be a BZ, but it’s spelled “divrei”.
    I just realized that “Punk Torah” rendered in Hebrew could easily become “Funk Torah”. Somebody call George Clinton!

  3. Sorry to be a BZ, but a word the aleph signifies the presence of the schwa under the pey which means it must be pronounced as a P sound at the front of the word, so it couldn’t really become “funk” all that easily.
    And Lisa, all I meant by the inside baseball remark was that JewPoint0 strikes me as most interesting for those of us working within the Jewish community and less so for the average layperson. But maybe I’m wrong, it’s hard to say what other people like. 🙂

  4. thanks for the shoutout for jewonthis, dlevy. I’ve been reading Jewschool for a few years, and the work that is done here was very much what I had in mind when I, together with anzya, started working on our own blog. It’s nice to be a part of a transnational progressive Jewish conversation, or whatever we could call it…

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