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Something fishy this parsha comes

“May you swim like Ephraim and Menasseh”

“Find the Hidden God” by Abe Mezrich

1. Puzzle

Jacob blesses his grandchildren:
let them multiply as fish
in the midst of the land.

Such a strange blessing!

2. Land and Sea
God does not mention fish
when He makes the things of the water.
God and the Torah only mention fish
when God makes people:
they will rule over all things,
they will rule over the fish of the sea.

When God rescues Israel from Egypt at the Sea
the Children of Israel saw the great Hand of God,
and they believed in God.

We are land dwellers.
Things of the water do not exist for us
until we and they are brought into connection:
until we rule over fish,
until God protects us with His Hand.
Then these things come into view,
and they exist for us.

3. Blessing

To be a fish that thrives on land
is to live that connection
that seems impossibly unapparent
between the world where we exist
and the world beyond—
between the land and the sea,
between our lives
and the Hand of God.

Jacob blesses his grandchildren:
live that hidden connection so firmly
that it becomes you.
____
Genesis Chapter 1, 48:1-15; Exodus Chapter 14
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Ben Yehuda Press authors on Bluesky!

Here are our authors we could find on Bluesky! If you are missing, please let us know and we’ll add you. (Yes, anthology contributors count.)

Zohar Atkins @zohar.bsky.social

Rabbi Rachel Barenblat @velveteenrabbi.bsky.social

Zackary Sholem Berger @drberger.bsky.social

Isak Bloom @ladyisak.bsky.social

Shamma Boyarin @sboyarin.bsky.social

Gwynne Garfinkle @gwynnega.bsky.social

Rodger Kamenetz @rodkam.bsky.social

Matthew Kressel @mattkressel.bsky.social

R.B. Lemberg @rblemberg.bsky.social

Maladroithe @maladroithe.bsky.social

S.J. Pearce @homophonous.bsky.social

Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell @mordkhetzvi.bsky.social

Alex Shvartsman @alexshvartsman.bsky.social

Abby Stein @abbystein.bsky.social

Bogi Takács @bogiperson.bsky.social

Larry Yudelson @yudel.bsky.social

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Hyman excerpt about a certain Tisha b’Av party…

How is your Tisha b’Av going? We thought we’d share an excerpt from one of our newest books, Hyman by Lawrence Bush. This satirical novel by the former editor of Jewish Currents focuses on Rabbi Hyman Babushkin, the (fictional) leader of the (fictional, but probably quite familiar) Encounter Judaism movement that he founds after leaving Orthodoxy. You can order the book from us with free shipping.

The beginning of Chapter Seven focuses on a pivotal event in the rabbi’s life, one that falls on Tisha b’Av…

The cover of Hyman by Lawrence Bush, featuring a gray-haired man shown from the back, wearing a large rainbow kippah in front of a background of clouds.

“The 9th National Summer Encounter of the Encounter Judaism movement, gathering at the ninety-acre Fellowship Farm retreat center in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, with the theme, “Jews of the Future,” has been scheduled, at Rabbi Babushkin’s urging, for the weekend of Tisha B’Av. Traditionally a day of fasting and abstinence, Tisha B’Av (the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av) commemorates the destruction of Judaism’s first and second temples in Jerusalem — the first by the Babylonians in 587 BCE, the second by the Romans six centuries later — along with many other horrors that are deeply etched into Jewish memory.

Eight registrants had voiced complaints in advance about the scheduling, ranging from What kind of conference does not have food? to I want the Encounter to be enlivening and uplifting, not filled with tragic memory.

Reb Hyman had responded to these concerns indirectly with an intriguing message in the registration packet, mailed out ten days in advance:

Not to worry. Our Tisha B’Av will be a feast day.
The Temple still stands tall, but it has gone Planetary!

Five of the complainants, all from Orthodox backgrounds, had nevertheless cancelled their reservations. Reb Hyman felt unperturbed, however. In the nine years since the Summer Encounters began, this one had attracted the largest registration ever, three hundred strong counting the children, and nicely diverse in generational terms, from young parents to baby-boomers in their fifties and sixties. Most of them, he knew, had little familiarity with observing Tisha B’Av and were simply looking forward to experiencing his creative spin on the day.

But first came the sabbath, which traditionally takes precedence over all other Jewish holidays and had therefore bumped the Ninth of Av to the Tenth, Saturday night. By then, the crowd had been well- nourished with organic vegetarian meals and enraptured by the creative spirituality and sharp intellectualism of various workshops: a Thursday-night session led by Rabbi Bobbi Greenbaum and Dr. Becca Cantor on “What Could It Mean for Judaism When Women Take Over?”; another Thursday-night session led by Monica Zimmer, a psychotherapist from Toronto, titled “Blessings on Your Head: Parenting and the Spirituality of Surrender”; a raft of kinesthetic workshops on Friday morning, including “Elementary Contact Improvisation,” “Walking with the Trees,” and “Following in the Footsteps of Rabbi Nakhman of Bratslav”; a Friday lunch concert by Hyman’s teenaged pianist son Daniel, followed by his brief exposition on “Why Is Synagogue Music Generally So Lame? (and What To Do About It)”; and a Friday afternoon plenary led by Rabbis Isaac Cantor (New York) and Deborah Feigenbaum (St. Louis) on “The Critical Hyphen: Jewish Social Response-Ability.”

There had also been group Friday-afternoon mikvehs (sex-segregated, bathing suits optional) in Fellowship Farm’s stream-fed pond; a brief outdoor performance by the children of Encounter Kindercamp; and four varieties of Torah study on Saturday morning, followed by a three-hour prayer service.”

…..after this Shabbat event, Tisha b’Av proper begins, including a lineup of Tisha b’Av seder guests, and various rituals, sometimes bizarre, sometimes genuinely touching:

“Babushkin walks over to the one of the giant Post-it sheets and uncaps a marker that has been clipped to the page. “I guess you could call me a universalist to the nth degree. I strive to be as Jewish, as richly Jewish, as I can possibly be — but I do so in service to humankind. That may sound very grand, but ‘grand’ doesn’t mean ‘untrue.’ I do believe that we, our Encounter Judaism movement, we are catalysts of a broader transformation. We are catalysts, and we can join with other catalysts to bring about a reaction that can cause all the human elements to meld into a compound of mentshlikhkayt! And when that happens, that’s when moshiakh, the messiah, comes. That’s when we enter the messianic age by treating one another as human beings, made in the image of God!”

On cue, Reb Deb steps up to read passages from Jewish sources about the messianic age: “From the Jerusalem Talmud, Berakot 2:4: ‘On the day the Temple was destroyed, Messiah was born.’”

Babushkin repeats: “On the day the Temple was destroyed, Messiah was born.”

She reads: “From the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 97b: ‘All the calculated dates of redemption have passed, and now the matter depends upon repentance and good deeds.’”

Babushkin repeats: “Repentance and good deeds.”

She reads: “From Franz Kafka: ‘The Messiah will come only when no longer necessary.’”

Babushkin repeats: “When we no longer need him. Thank you, Deborah.”

Now he walks to one of the Post-It sheet and prints words beneath the heading, “WHEN MOSHIAKH COMES . . .” “Forgive my handwriting,” he says, then reads aloud what he has written: “When moshiakh comes . . . the White House will be renamed the Rainbow Room.”

The room fills with laughter. He walks to the next pad and writes again: “Those who steal will be given what they want.” And again, to a third pad: “The President will be in therapy at least twice a week.”

When the laughter subsides, Babushkin holds out the marker. “It’s your turn, kinderlakh. What will happen when mentshlikhkayt becomes the way of the world? What does the revolution look like? You know, it’s easy for us to say what we don’t like about this world, but can we envision a better one, and put it into words? This is your
chance to help write our new, universalist Torah.”

Max from Teaneck steps up, takes the marker from Reb Hyman’s hand, walks to a fresh sheet, and starts writing.”

If you enjoyed the excerpt, you can buy the book and find out what do Howard Zinn and the Ben of Ben & Jerry’s have in common!

We wish you a meaningful Tisha b’Av – one way of observance or another!

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Mikhail Krutikov reviews “Ode to the Dove” in the Yiddish Forward

https://forward.com/yiddish/543246/two-new-hard-copies-of-works-by-i-b-singer-and-sutzkever

Like Bashevis’s “Stories from Behind the Stove”, Sutskever’s “Ode to the Dove” was also written after the Holocaust. But this poem is a message from a completely different world than Bashevis’s stories. The poet’s mission has nothing to do with “creating a country or a public,” explains Berger in his introduction to the book published by Ben Yehuda Press. The poet is an individual who creates his own temple of sounds.

“Here, with the pen, I conduct my own, silent chapel.”

Berger emphasizes that Sutskever actually uses the international word “temple” and not the literal “beys hamikdesh.” In this way, Sutskever continues the tradition of the Polish romantic poets Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Słowacki and Cyprian Norwid, whom he studied in the Polish-Jewish high school in Vilnius.

Berger ends his introduction with a question: To whom does Sutskever turn in this poem, which was written in 1954 in Tel Aviv?

And he speculates. “Perhaps to the dead who drag the poet from his bed and embrace him at night.”

Usually one reads Sutskever’s poems in poetry anthologies, one after the other. Berger’s book slowly soaks in the difficult rhythm and long lines of a single poem.

On each page, the reader’s gaze wanders between the Yiddish source above and the English translation below, and between the pages one pauses at the charming background illustrations by Liora Ostroff.

No digital copy can replace this experience of slowly reading and turning the pages.

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Remembering Rivka Basman Ben-Haim

First, a personal note. I felt I was in mourning when Rivka died. I loved her like I loved my own mother.

Now about Rivka. 

Her husband, Mula, and she were twin souls. The Torah says about Jacob and his son Binyomin, נפשו קשורה בנפשו, “one’s soul was bound up with the soul of the other”, and that’s how it was with Rivka and Mula. 

Here are two examples (from their lives together).

For Rivka life on  Kibbutz Ha-Ma’apil was a slice of Eden. First, she watched the things she planted grow, and that was therapeutic for her. Then she became a teacher of Kibbutz children. In a poem entitled “With my students of the Rimon Class” she says of the children “and I discover/that the honey-/is in fact you”.

But for Mula life on the kibbutz was most unpleasant. He was a painter and he wanted to paint more than the few hours a week that the kibbutz allotted to him. He told Rivka he wanted to leave and without hesitation, she told him she would go with him. So  the two left the kibbutz together.

Years later, when Rivka was studying for an MA in literature at Columbia University, Mula was homesick for Israel (He was simply unhappy in the Diaspora). When he told Rivka this, she reacted much as Ruth said to Naomi: “Wherever you go, I go, too.” And so the pair left for Israel together.

I was always surprised at Rivka’s optimism. 

When I asked her about this, she said: “What can I do? God created me like this”.

I got a similar response when we watched a film about Rivka at Bet Leyvik.

There I saw Rivka in uniform holding a rifle. “Rivka”, I said, “you never told me you were a soldier!” She responded with “What could we do? They attacked us. We fought in self-defense.”

Another time, when we sat around the table shooting the breeze at Bet Leyvik, one of the folks there announced that he had something to say, but he begged every one’s pardon, he would speak in Hebrew, and not in Yiddish.

“You have nothing to apologize for,” Rivka said. “Hebrew is also a Jewish language.”

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An Other Covenants Podcast

Other Covenants

Our friends at the Association of Jewish Libraries interviewed the editors of Other Covenants, as well as two of the contributing authors, for their Nice Jewish Books podcast. Tune in — or read the transcript — to learn the secret origins of Eric Choi’s amazing story of space shuttle rescue, and Esther Alter’s rewritten Bible stories.

Other Covenants book cover

Other Covenants

$9.95$36.00

Imagine…. An adult Anne Frank, living out her golden years in Florida. Moses in his basket, floating all the way to the wilds of Scotland. An alternate Israel, with zeppelins and ray-guns, hiding a terrible secret. A Holocaust that succeeded beyond Hitler’s wildest dreams, yet unable to extinguish hope. What is more Jewish than musings […]

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Tu Bishvat, Jewish Poetry Month and a taste of Parshat Beshalach from Ben Yehuda Press

B”H

Tu Bishvat is coming! This is also the week of Beshalach, and we’ll begin with the parsha before we veer off into the New Year of the Trees. (Keep your seatbelts on!)

First, Abe Mezrich offers poetic midrash on chapter 14 of Exodus from his book Words for a Dazzling Firmament. (If you enjoy this piece, our big sale for Jewish Poetry Month is still ongoing: buy two books, get a third one free. We have a three-volume set from Abe Mezrich, so you can get them all even cheaper than our usual bundle price!)

Salvation by Abe Mezrich

God tells Moses,
Why do you cry out to Me?
Move into the unpassable water.

& when the people do,

God splits the Sea
into a miracle.

Sometimes you cry out for help
but sometimes God wants, instead,
for you to walk so deep into your own waters
that you force His Hand.
Words for a Dazzling Firmament - cover image
And now about Tu Bishvat… One of our parsha books is unique in that it offers not only commentary on the Torah portion, but also on major and minor holidays, and even individual prayers. This is what Torah Without End edited by Rabbi Michael Strassfeld has to say on Tu Bishvat, a chapter authored by Rabbi Robin Damsky!
“The Rebbe [Nahman] spoke: “If only you could be privileged to hear the songs and the praises of the grasses, how each and every blade of grass sings out its song to the Blessed Creator, without any distracting thoughts and without expectation of any reward. How good and lovely it is when you hear their song. And it is very good when among them to worship the Holy Blessed Creator with reverence.”

—Sichot HaRan 163.3, Rebbe Nahman of Bratzlav

What is the song of a blade of grass? Note how this blade holds you in its arms, how it offers its teaching to you. Listen. Touch if it helps, stroke. Be One. And receive.

Each and every blade of grass has its own song. So does each leaf of a tree, each trunk, each root system. If we listen closely, without distraction (machshevot zarot), if we become present with the soil-being within – the adam/human created from the adamah/soil – we can not only hear the song of each individual blade of grass, we can hear the harmonies of the grasses. We can then tune our attention to distinguish these melodies from the songs of each tree leaf, trunk and root. For the sound of a trunk is very different from the song of its leaf, and its roots sing a different melody entirely. Yet heard altogether, we can even feel in our bones the chorus that each tree composes. What richness, then, the symphony of a grove or forest with all its trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses. How can we hear? How can we smell? How can we feel? It begins with creating a relationship with one blade of grass, one leaf, one trunk. In time, we can hear the symphony of the green world whose exhale is our very inhale.

The privilege of which Rebbe Nahman speaks is the gift of presence. How precious the space is when we are truly engaged, and connected. What we can hear, see, feel, taste and touch when we are connected to Sacred Spirit is a true privilege. That sense of connection is prayer itself.

Tu Bishvat is one calendar reminder for us to take time to listen, notice, and feel. Ideally, we can bring this into our lives regularly, yet on Tu Bishvat, we make a specific intention to invest in this connection.

“The Rebbe [Nahman] spoke: “If only you could be privileged to hear the songs and the praises of the grasses, how each and every blade of grass sings out its song to the Blessed Creator, without any distracting thoughts and without expectation of any reward. How good and lovely it is when you hear their song. And it is very good when among them to worship the Holy Blessed Creator with reverence.”

—Sichot HaRan 163.3, Rebbe Nahman of Bratzlav

What is the song of a blade of grass? Note how this blade holds you in its arms, how it offers its teaching to you. Listen. Touch if it helps, stroke. Be One. And receive.

Each and every blade of grass has its own song. So does each leaf of a tree, each trunk, each root system. If we listen closely, without distraction (machshevot zarot), if we become present with the soil-being within – the adam/human created from the adamah/soil – we can not only hear the song of each individual blade of grass, we can hear the harmonies of the grasses. We can then tune our attention to distinguish these melodies from the songs of each tree leaf, trunk and root. For the sound of a trunk is very different from the song of its leaf, and its roots sing a different melody entirely. Yet heard altogether, we can even feel in our bones the chorus that each tree composes. What richness, then, the symphony of a grove or forest with all its trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses. How can we hear? How can we smell? How can we feel? It begins with creating a relationship with one blade of grass, one leaf, one trunk. In time, we can hear the symphony of the green world whose exhale is our very inhale.

The privilege of which Rebbe Nahman speaks is the gift of presence. How precious the space is when we are truly engaged, and connected. What we can hear, see, feel, taste and touch when we are connected to Sacred Spirit is a true privilege. That sense of connection is prayer itself.

Tu Bishvat is one calendar reminder for us to take time to listen, notice, and feel. Ideally, we can bring this into our lives regularly, yet on Tu Bishvat, we make a specific intention to invest in this connection.

Practice:

Go outside and find grass, a tree, or a shrub. If being outside is completely impossible, find an indoor plant. Or watch a beautiful nature video of grasses and trees. Settle. Breathe. Feel your soil-self, your adamah-ness. Then listen. Touch, if possible, even smell the esev – the green – that Spirit has put forth. You might notice synesthesia. Smell its beauty. Feel and hear its song. Sense your part of the song, how you are an integral voice of this symphony, this dance of creation.

Feel your wholeness as intertwined with the wholeness of All. Listen to its teaching. Take it in. Let it sit. Then bring forward what is yours to share to help bring forth the songs of the green things to others and help heal the future for this majestic symphony.

Go outside and find grass, a tree, or a shrub. If being outside is completely impossible, find an indoor plant. Or watch a beautiful nature video of grasses and trees. Settle. Breathe. Feel your soil-self, your adamah-ness. Then listen. Touch, if possible, even smell the esev – the green – that Spirit has put forth. You might notice synesthesia. Smell its beauty. Feel and hear its song. Sense your part of the song, how you are an integral voice of this symphony, this dance of creation.

Feel your wholeness as intertwined with the wholeness of All. Listen to its teaching. Take it in. Let it sit. Then bring forward what is yours to share to help bring forth the songs of the green things to others and help heal the future for this majestic symphony.
Now that we’ve communed with the trees and nature, it is fitting to quote a chapter from Abraham Sutzkever’s epic poem Ode to the Dove translated by Zackary Sholem Berger and illustrated by Liora Ostroff – forthcoming from us in February! The poet is seeking the dove all over the world, including in forests and on mountaintops…
Ode to the Dove illustration by Liora Ostroff - Chapter VII
Dancer, tell me—where are you? My hair senses your flutter.
The dove can’t give me an answer: where is your home, where’s your theater?
Your eyes bring me this once a doe in sunshine’s dew.
Where is the tremble in gardens with blossoms Chagallian blue?

Who’s breathing me in like a rainbow, near the rain-drenched forest?
Who is the naked wave, so flexible because so boneless?
Who is that snowvalanche aglow over rockface abyss?
She buries in garlands an eagle wishing—for her breasts—a kiss.

Who is the mirror in tears? Who are the faces, those new ones?
In the coffin, who is that woman? The funeral covered with roses?
The wheels keep turning and turning, devouring and binding my shadow.
A shovel buried itself in a grave full of dirt, just today.

Who is the white transformation, which cannot emerge from the birch?
Who is the echo of silence and who is the silence in blush?
No one at all will answer me? Are insanities burning inside me?
Just today, stones did stone themselves in the street.
Will the poet’s emotional turmoil end, and will he find the dove? You will get to find out on February 14! In the meanwhile, we wish you a great Shabbat, Tu Bishvat, and continued Jewish Poetry Month.

PS – You don’t need to add a code to apply the Poetry Month discount in our webstore. Good reading!
abe torah bundle
Torah Without End - book cover
Ode to the Dove - book cover
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Celebrating Jewish trans poetry day!

🎉 ✡️ Today is Jewish trans poetry day! ✡️ 🎉

Would you like a thread with ten handpicked poems from trans Jewish poets to celebrate?

Read & enjoy!

Poems will be in no particular order. I try to link poets' websites when possible, and their latest book (the poems I picked will not necessarily be from that book).

Purchase links will be Amazon associate links or our webstore, but we also rec your local bookstore & library.

Everyone is Jewish and non-cis in some way (trans, nbi, gnc, gq etc.), though specific identities of course vary. At least three of the poets are also intersex in addition to being non-cis.

There are definitely more than ten Jewish trans poets, this is not meant to be a comprehensive list. I encourage you to post your favorite poems #JewishTransPoets #JewishTransPoetry 🙂

I tried to pick both established & upcoming poets.

Joy Ladin @JoyLadin is one of the best-known Jewish trans poets. She taught English at YU until recently. Besides her poetry, she's also known for her memoir and other academic nonfiction work (I recommend those too!).

From Joy Ladin I chose "Pronouncement" from Drunken Boat:

"Sun just up, he is—you are—
twisting your torso toward the world, the true and fictional world

I thread, a true and fictional girl
blushing against a sun-shot wall"

https://d7.drunkenboat.com/db13/5sex/ladin/pronouncement.php

Her latest book is Shekhinah Speaks:

R.B. Lemberg @RB_Lemberg is a fantasist, poet, fiction writer, translator… (many hats!) who was born in Ukraine and currently lives in Kansas. Like Joy Ladin, they also write academic nonfiction too.

We are publishing their poetic memoir Everything Thaws early next year – growing up in Ukraine and Russia, climate change, migration and more.

"The Three Immigrations" originally in @strangehorizons will be partially incorporated into this larger work:

You can preorder Everything Thaws here (now in our Pride sale):

Max Wolf Valerio @hypotenusewolf (Blackfoot/Sephardic) was one of the first trans poets worldwide, and he is still active and creating. He's also a memoirist (The Testosterone Files).

https://hypotenuse-wolf.tumblr.com/

"OK I admit it. I was Greta Garbo, or was that–Shulamith Firestone?" in EOAGH reflects on another Jewish writer's work & takes it further –

"fertility songs are tattooed on the backs of trans men near our shoulder blades where our wings will appear"

His latest poetry collection is The Criminal: The Invisibility of Parallel Forces –

Sass Orol @OrolSass is a rabbinical student who has just seen their debut collection appear recently in our imprint: The Shortest Skirt in Shul.

Included in our Pride sale –

https://www.benyehudapress.com/books/the-shortest-skirt-in-shul/

Amazon is also doing a BIG discount now-

https://amzn.to/3MX8RxY

From Sass Orol I chose the poem "Brit" that's reprinted on the book's preview page (sorry, can't link directly; click through and then in the left sidebar):

https://www.benyehudapress.com/books/the-shortest-skirt-in-shul/

“But all of these things, if you don’t like the shape,
everything can be cut further.”

angelic proof is a Russian-Jewish poet living in Canada. "They are currently the Poet-in-Residence at the Roundhouse Community Arts Centre" (from their bio) and they are also a spoken-word performer.

https://www.facebook.com/angelig.unt

From them I chose "un [naming] / trans (After Golden)" in @FrontierPoetry. This is an awesome visual poem!

https://www.frontierpoetry.com/2021/06/25/poetry-un-naming-trans-after-golden-by-angelic-proof/

"the boys want [My Dick] \my romance
but can't handle [My Dick] \my transness"

Rivers Solomon @cyborgyndroid is primarily known as a fiction writer (most recently of Sorrowland, read it!!), but I read these poems on faer Patreon years ago and they came to mind immediately when starting to assemble this thread –

https://www.patreon.com/posts/some-poems-16999568

"We crawl
out on miniature knee caps, or scoot. We cannot hold
our heads up yet on this trail of cracked ovum shell,

on this path of scoliosis spine."
– from "Ibeji"
(cn from the author: late term pregnancy loss)

I think this is the only poem in the thread that isn't available free online, but I recommend backing faer patreon, fae is in the process of reorganizing it and you can give input to what you'd like to see in the future!

Fae doesn't have a poetry collection yet, so I'll put Sorrowland here:

AJ Odasso @ajodasso has a poetry collection The Sting of It, and they are also a fiction author and a poetry editor at Strange Horizons!

From AJ Odasso I chose "Sargasso Sea" originally in Remixt, reprinted in Intersex Quarterly (also a poem that's stayed with me for many years) –

"Back under. All spoils
but wayward gonads
plundered. Cervix
untethered, that
ungainly hatch."

Percy Amichai Hill @lianlianmin just started publishing poetry in 2022 ("a self-proclaimed baby poet") – I really liked all three pieces he had out so far.

This is his website:

https://lianlianmin.wordpress.com/

And for a poem from Percy Amichai Hill I chose "Kislev" in @olicketysplit:

https://twitter.com/olicketysplit/status/1513999850412642312

"here, i say, take a couple nickels,
chew on them, we'll call this gelt."

Adrian Belmes @adrian_belmes is an author, bookmaker and small press publisher of Badlung Press (check out Depression Cookbook, there is a free pdf); he was born in Odessa, Ukraine. You can find both him and his press here:

https://adrianbelmes.com/

From Adrian Belmes I picked "on our last night in the desert" in @perhappened

https://www.perhappened.com/lastnightadrianbelmes.html

"If we shout into the murk beyond the diamond-wire mesh, we will hear
the drunks next door shout back across the grainy night"

And here you can read Depression Cookbook edited by him, as a free download:

https://adrianbelmes.com/badlung-books

Bogi Takács @bogiperson is a Hungarian Jewish immigrant to the US.

This is me, but it would be weird to leave myself out (though it is also weird to add myself in).

I have a poetry collection, Algorithmic Shapeshifting published by @AqueductPress.

For one of my recent poems, you can try "The Prophet, to His Angel" in @FantasyMagazinehttps://www.fantasy-magazine.com/fm/poetry/the-prophet-to-his-angel/

"I swallow
the scroll you hand me,
fighting my body as you
reach into my throat
to push scripture deeper"

Thank you for reading! Now it's your turn to share your Jewish trans favorites! (Poems can be about anything!) Tell us about your own work too!

Confetti: 🎊🎊🎊

(Adding more bc I cannot stop)

Izzy Wasserstein @izzyxen has been writing more fiction than poetry lately (and has a great short story collection coming soon), but she's made her debuts with poetry.

This is one of my favorite poems of hers (we also posted it previously):

https://150kansaspoems.wordpress.com/2017/02/19/you-will-come-up-short-by-izzy-wasserstein/

"They will leave landmines in your path,
and when they do not know your path,
they will leave landmines everywhere."

Her latest poetry collection is When Creation Falls, but I'm also going to link her upcoming fiction collection

https://smile.amazon.com/When-Creation-Falls-Izzy-Wasserstein/dp/0996680195/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2CTLHR0K7RT1C&keywords=izzy+wasserstein&qid=1655417549&sprefix=izzy+wasserstein%2Caps%2C91&sr=8-1

All the Hometowns You Can't Stay Away From –

k. rowan jordan-abrams was also kind to share their poetry with us! This one is my favorite – "seventeen" from Brave Voices:

And because I see some people claim trans Jews are "new", here is a poem from the Middle Ages…

It appears in the book Even Bochan by Kalonymus ben Kalonymus (scroll down for Rabbi Steve Greenberg's English translation)

https://www.sefaria.org/sheets/135628?lang=bi

Now, some people say that the context makes it clear that this poem is satirical. Others disagree. That's a YMMV thing. However!

The existence of this poem shows that Jews in the Middle Ages could conceive of, and write about, gender dysphoria.

We don't know if the author was trans, but the poem itself is clearly about a trans *experience*.

And by the way, at the link these are @AbbyChavaStein's study sheets, and our parent publisher is going to bring you the expanded, BOOK version!

Stephanie Burt @accommodatingly is a poet and poetry critic! She teaches at Harvard and has had several volumes out + also a book about reading poetry, the amazingly titled Don't Read Poetry.

https://www.closecallswithnonsense.com/

For a poem by her I picked At the Parkway Deli, published in @foodandwine (which is kind of life goals) –

https://www.foodandwine.com/lifestyle/books/poem-at-the-parkway-deli

"You can know what you need
before you know why: shredded cabbage and mini-cukes
and sodium ions in water"

Her latest poetry collection is a chapbook, For All Mutants published by @RainTaxiReview

Something else: I am finding out about several trans poets that they are Jewish! Which is awesome!

I was expecting I'd also find out about Jewish poets that they are trans, which hasn't happened yet while making the thread. (Please don't out people who are not out)

Here is the entire, LONG version of the poem from Even Bochan by Kalonymus ben Kalonymus, thank you @opensiddur!

Originally tweeted by Jewish Poetry Project | Jewish Trans Poetry Day! (@JPoetryProject) on June 16, 2022.

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Shavuot and beyond Torah sale

🌄 HERE IS OUR SHAVUOT SALE🌄

25% off on all our Torah titles (preorders too) & free US shipping!

https://www.benyehudapress.com/product-tag/torah/

Includes a recent Jewish Book Award winner… and also many of the books you can read about in our parsha series!

We’ll thread a bit…

(If you are wondering about our Pride sale, we’re also going to have one like last year, but it will launch after Shavuot. 😺 A very festive time!)

So! Torah!

#TorahInATimeOfPlague edited by Erin Leib Smokler now comes with the Jewish Book Award stamp on the cover 😻

All the history, theology, personal and scholarly reflections on TORAH + PLAGUE ⤵️

The Torah is often considered a document by and about men. But women have been there at the dawn of Jewish history, and since then, as spiritual leaders of many kinds.

Jill Hammer and Taya Shere write about The Hebrew Priestess, richly sourced:

Would you like a book for the young readers in your home that brings each week’s Torah portion up close?

An Angel Called Truth & Other Tales from the Torah retells classic stories from kids’ point of view –

We had an earlier thread specifically about this book, with excerpts, illustrations & more –

We also have books really quite not for children.

The Comic Torah: Reimagining the Very Good Book by Aaron Freeman and Sharon Rosenzweig does not shy away from the blood, the gore and the sex in the original 🙀

Truly a GRAPHIC novel

Here is a relatively more all-ages excerpt, but no less provocative!

Would you like poems? Would you like parsha poems?

We have some, with more in the works!

Sue Swartz tackles the emotional arcs of the five books of Moses –

I always feel fond of reading nuclear anything into the Bible, so here is a small excerpt featuring the priests…

(We’ve posted quite a few more excerpts from this book & you can find them by carefully searching our parsha threads!)

We are probably one of the foremost publishers of Torah poetry (and now we are also venturing into Talmudic poetry), so let’s take a look at some more –

Abe Mezrich writes poetic midrash on the parsha, with two volumes now available & a 3rd coming!

Here is the other volume:

https://www.benyehudapress.com/books/the-house-at-the-center-of-the-world/

You have one about sacred space, one about sacred community, and the third will be about bricks.

(no, REALLY)

(okay, not JUST about bricks)

For something very different, Isidore Century writes about the parsha and about New York Jewish life, sometimes simultaneously!

Coffee & bagels are involved. Yes, in the books of Moses. What would Mother say?

(We all know what Mother would say)

We also have serious books. Yes, we do.

Wrestling Jacob is one of those awesome backlist finds. This book exists & no one told me? (Here I am telling you!)

An intensely psychological take on Jacob & his family, with in-depth textual analysis –

We actually want to post a new excerpt from this one soon, but we’ve had some already… Here is something about who Jacob REALLY fights when he fights the angel.

(I can’t believe that was in the Bible! And in the absolutely plain sense meaning of the text!)

Another book that gives you that sense of discovery about what’s REALLY in the Bible is Esau’s Blessing from Ora Horn Prouser!

It takes a look at the disabled people in the Torah (and there are many of them)

Here we had a thread about Esau, and his extremely relatable struggles with leaving his hunting equipment at home.

I also must add this from the Psalms (ok, the Psalms were not given at Mount Sinai, but!) –

If you’re interested in something mystical, but at the same time want to do something… you can quite literally WALK through the Torah with Rabbi Shefa Gold –

This book presents the Torah – divided up into each weekly portion – as a spiritual journey that you yourself can take.

Every parsha has a challenge and a blessing… and yes, there are exercises!

Find your inner priest, it comes with cool clothing –

Torah can be greatly enjoyed in company.

If you’re looking for something to be discussed around the Shabbat table all year, you can try this book of matched Torah / Mishnah / Gemara tidbits!

Here is an interesting detail from Genesis –

Sometimes you want what you can’t have.

Here is the Book of Genesis without the letter E!

This only makes it more interesting…

“a lipogram — a text that avoids a particular letter — offers the virtues of discipine and restraint.”

Yes, but how do you say “Let there be light?”

(Click through and it’s actually on the book’s profile page)

However, sometimes what you want to have might already be at your fingertips.

We have not one, but two books about bibliodrama –

https://www.benyehudapress.com/books/bibliodrama-bundle/

Explore the Bible by acting it out! 📖 🙀😽😼😻

And to finish the thread, we also have a Bible-themed preorder.

Noted Jewish atheist Lawrence Bush examines the parsha in American Torah Toons 2 – with both commentary and art!

Here is our announcement thread, with an excerpt – and some LSD…

Order away!

We guarantee that the books will not arrive before the holiday, thereby not disturbing your cheesecake preparation.

(But you will get them soon after, and Torah learning never ends… 😽 )

Because we started this sale relatively close to the holiday, it will be open for about a week, and then we can do our Pride sale too 😺

Originally tweeted by Ben Yehuda Press | Shavuot sale pinned! (@BenYehudaPress) on June 2, 2022.

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Preorder sale: THE FIVE OUNCE GIFT by Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz

We have an announcement for you today! The Five Ounce Gift: A Medical, Philosophical and Spiritual Jewish Guide to Kidney Donation by Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz is available for preorders, and we have a discount on it (plus our usual free shipping within the US) until December 31.

This book tells you everything about kidney donation from a Jewish perspective:

  • Different forms of kidney donation
  • Why would someone (you?) want to donate a kidney
  • Kidney donation in Jewish law & tradition
  • Jewish organizations ready to help out
  • What is it like to receive a kidney
  • and more! With guest chapters and interviews, too.

Click on the preview image to see the discount! (You’ll also see the celebrity endorsements from people like Elizabeth Warren and Michael Douglas – there’s some surprising names in there, too.)

If you scroll below, we also offer a sample from the beginning of chapter 4, which talks about the kidneys in Jewish tradition. Do kidneys talk, and what do they say?

The Torah on Kidneys

Kidneys, in the idiom of the Hebrew Bible, give counsel. Inner conviction that English speakers associate with the heart, in biblical Hebrew comes from the kidneys. The Psalmist says, “I shall bless God, who counsels me, and even at night my kelayot (kidneys) instruct me.” (1) Some translators make the text more comfortable and relatable for English readers and render the verse as “my heart instructs me,” but this is a non-literal translation. (2)

An ancient Midrashic text draws on that verse to explain how Abraham discovered his inner conviction when there was no one to teach him.

Said Rabbi Shimon: His father did not teach him, his rabbi did not teach him,(3) so from where did he (Abraham) learn the Torah? Rather the holy blessed One appointed his two kidneys like two rabbis, and they poured out and taught him Torah and wisdom. That is what is written: “I shall bless God, who counsels me, and at night even my kidneys instruct me.” (4)

The rabbis were thinking about kidneys as symbols of spiritual impulses:

Our Rabbis taught: Man has two kidneys, one of which prompts him to good, the other to evil; and it is natural to suppose that the good one is on his right side and the bad one on his left, as it is written,(5) “A wise man’s understanding is at his right hand, but a fool’s understanding is at his left.” (6)

I remember feeling grateful after learning this Talmudic passage and hearing that the medical team was planning, as usual, to remove the left kidney. I can report, though, that the yetzer hara (evil inclination) was still alive after the surgery. I wonder what the rabbis meant.

An old English expression associates kidneys with one’s temperament or nature. One might say of one’s son, “I hope he will be of similar kidney to his mother.”

In some passages, the rabbis invoke both organs: “The kidneys prompt, the heart discerns.” In the Selichot liturgy, (7) we say “bochein kelayot valeiv” (God searches one’s kidneys and heart). There is wisdom and truth there. In a radical passage in the Book of Psalms, we learn that God “acquired” our kidneys in our mothers’ womb. (8) This is to say that our kidneys never belonged to us! Was God already planning to use one of our kidneys for someone else’s body? Was God preparing a cure before an illness even existed?

  1. Psalms 16:7
  2. In the singular form, the Hebrew word for kidney is kilya. The verse uses the possessive kilyotai (“my kidneys”).
  3. Meaning, of course, that Abraham had no rabbi.
  4. Bereishit Rabbah 61:1
  5. Ecclesiastes 10:2
  6. Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 61a
  7. Selichos, Artscroll, p. 498, based on Jeremiah 11:20. Selichot are special prayers recited for several days leading up to Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur.
  8. Psalms 139:13