SUGGESTED LECTURES, ONE-TIME OR SERIES
These may take the form of a journey in the footsteps of a particular topic, or a one-time entrance inspired by a text.
The Life of a Woman, the Life of Song
An autobiographical journey between and within the poetry of Hava Pinhas-Cohen, from The Color, Primarily (1989) to And Half Lustful in His Hand (2018). The biography of an artist of the first generation of Redemption or second generation to Holocaust survivors. The creation of the Dimui Magazine for Jewish Literature, Arts and Culture, which marked a turning point by interpolating Israeli-Jewish identity into Hebrew literature. From Ayala’s Journey, a poem which probes the life of a woman and the life of a family on the conflict and on love; Songs of Orphea, poems of loss and separation from a husband and a lover; to the poem The Gardener, the Bitch and the Slut, of a woman who walks alone in the world and ponders her identity among males. And all the way to theological questions on life and the world-in-general in Messiah, and in A Different Journey with a Black Raven and Saint Claire.
- What is Israeli Feminine Poetry?
- How does the personal, the intimate, react to the particular life of my generation?
- To be “second generation” and to fight for the identity and the place.
Bridging the Divide
Following the publication of my poetry book Bridging the Divide, translated to English by Sharon Hart-Green and published by the Syracuse University Press, I’ve embarked on a personal journey. Yet this is also a journey of my fellow generation, those born in the 1950s, children of immigrants and refugees born into a country with great hope, who in their childhood and youth endured three wars and on their high school graduation day became part of the Yom Kippur War. A mute generation which finds expression in creativity and poetry. From the personal to the collective. Readings from the English translations of my Hebrew works and from those of other poets of the 50s and 60s generations.
Are there joyous loves in Hebrew poetry?
Option for a one-time presentation or a series of four meetings exploring the Hebrew poetic journey from the Biblical Song of Songs to Bialik and from Bialik to our own generation, in search of love and passion in Hebrew poetry. Does one sing of love in its presence or in its absence? Commencing with a reading from the elusive love of The Song of Songs, love poems by Bialik, Yehuda Amichai, Zelda, Yona Wallach, Aharon Shabtai, Admiel Kosman, Benny Shvili, Hava Pinhas-Cohen and voices of the young generation such as Noam Partom and Noa Shakarji.
Option for a one-time presentation or a series of lectures on the topic “The Relationship Between Hebrew Poetry to Place and View.” Does the Israeli poet see the place, the land? Can he or she see the place beyond history and ideology? Is there an eye open to the landscape and poetry that responds to the immortal words of Shaul Tschernichovsky, “Man is but a pattern of the landscape of his homeland”?
Among the poets presented: Tschernichovsky, Rachel, Lea Goldberg, Yehuda Amichai, Arieh Sivan, Israel Eliaz, Anadad Eldan, Agi Mishol, Yonatan Berg, Hava Pinhas-Cohen.
My Journeys to the Balkans
Stories and poetry of a journey in search of the lost identity, the identity of the daughter of a family which speaks Ladino, the daughter of a family that traces its lineage to the Jewish exiles from Spain from the Balkans. A journey in search of the great void, the disappearance of Jewish communities from Sofia, Belgrade, Skopje, Bitola, Split and Ljubljana. Seventy years after the Jews were rounded up and deported, the identity begins to emerge from the ashes and awaken. Why this touches me, which stories I gathered, and how these are composed into a book.What is the place of Sephardic Judaism in Israeli society; how does the story of the false messiah Shabtai Tzvi mesh into Balkan life, and why is the tolerant Balkan absent from the Israeli discourse? This is a journey in the footsteps of places and of texts penned in the Balkans.
What is Contemporary Jewish Literature?
In 2007, I initiated the Jerusalem-based “Kisufim” Conference of Jewish Writers and Poets. Subsequently, an additional four conferences followed that featured Jewish writers in a range of languages, including Cynthia Ozick (English), Stanley Moss (English), Robert Pinsky (English), Myriam Anissimov (French), Bernard-Henri Lévy (French), David Albahari (Serbian), Filip David (Serbian), Norman Manea (Romania), Gabi Gleichmann (Swedish), and many others. For writers who identify themselves as Jews, the question arises as to what we share in common, and why we convene to converse with and translate one another. What is the significance of being a Jewish writer after World War II in which an entire Jewish world was annihilated? We focus upon these topics, following the readings of a selection of stories and poems by various writers.
Encountering a Story or Two by David Albahari, a Jewish Serbian-language Writer
David Albahari was born in 1948 in the post-WWII Serbian city of Peć. His father was a gynecologist who lost a wife and two children in the Second World War, and his mother was a Bosnian who converted to Judaism and married a Jewish man from Zagreb with whom she had two children. Her entire family was murdered in the Holocaust. The two married and brought two children into the world, David and his sister. David has become one of the most prolific and impressive writers in the Serbian language. His writing is intensive and personal, examining the identity and boundaries of the memory. The lecture will present a reading of the short story Jerusalem and a segment of Nomads. And we will explore the dialogue between a Serbian Jewish author with his Serbian and Jewish identity, and with us.
An Encounter with the Poetry of Israel Eliraz
From the time of my student days at the end of the 1970’s, I began meeting my teacher, the poet Israel Eliraz, for small get-togethers in cafes or in his studio on Tschernichovsky Street in Jerusalem. Mainly, we met and spoke about poetry and art. About poetry and life. With each new book that Israel Eliraz or I published, we celebrated. From 2003, I began recording and transcribing entire conversations, which were compiled in the book A School of One Man: A Dialogue with Israel Eliraz. The book was published by the Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House in their “Red Line” series. In the lecture, I read selections from his poetry and mine, two near-opposite worlds, and through our conversations and his literary biography, I converse with his generation, the contemporaries of the Jewish State.
The Image of the Artist and the Writer and in Shai Agnon’s Works
Option for a one-time presentation or a series of lectures, accompanied by a reading of Tmol Shilshom, Agadat HaSofer, Ido V’Ainam, within the search for the character of the artist, the creator in Agnon’s works. Sometimes he is a painter, sometimes he is the character of the author, sometimes he is a scribe. He appears in various characters, and voices his opinion or critiques the characters in the work. During the session, we read the story together, or parts of it, in a straight reading followed by discussion, analysis and comparisons to other stories and literature.
Reading and Writing Workshop
For the Israeli audience, I lead a Reading and Writing workshop. Each meeting is dedicated to one or two works from classic literature and from contemporary literature (with an option for a particular emphasis on Jewish sources and literature of the sages, primarily from the “Miniature Stories.”) From session to session, workshop participants write a work according to a particular theme, and together we critique and offer feedback, as the participants view one another’s change and development.
Possible Workshop Subjects:
How to write a memoir
Writing poetry on love, parenting, and journeys
During 2020, within the framework of Bet Midrash Elul and at the height of the COVID-19 crisis, the workshop subject was “To Stop and to Keep On Going.”
How poetry opened the gates to Slovania and the Balkans for me, as well as the flourishing of a synagogue inside the local theater. Is this possible?
The exquisite city, the beating heart of the Balkans. Meetings with David Albahari and with his books revealed an open secret within which one lives with the contradictions, a deep affiliation with the place and the language in which an entire community was slaughtered. The character of Jenny Lebel, a proud Serbian and survivor of the Yugoslavian gulag Goli Otok, to the characters of Anna Lebel and Daniela Danon, powerful contemporary Jewish women from Belgrade.
What did Nathan of Gaza (1643-1680) write about upon his return to Skopje, and where was he buried? Monastir, an ancient Jewish community rich in characters and creative works, obliterated: What did the Macedonian Jews leave behind, and what is the place and significance of the ancient cemetery in the Balkans, slate and marble slabs, and two mulberry trees that bore witness to a story?
I Was Born in Jaffa, but I Came from Sofia
The heroic tale of a community which saved itself from the chimneys of Treblinka and migrated in unison, in an immigration unparalleled in its force and its devotion to the Land of Israel. The story of one Jewish family from Sofia and its dogged path to the Land of Israel.
One woman with a book in hand
wandering one Sunday morning through the Balkans in the city of Peć, Kosovo, spots a photostat copy of the Talmud on a used-book stand, translated by Moshe Weber of Belgrade, a one-man enterprise. This is but one of the many stories of encounters with people and books while traversing the Balkans, about different modes of survival and maintaining identity. Primarily about surprises…