11.21.14 Issue

by Mark Kirchhoff, The Center for Jewish Life

Assaf Gavron will be the speaker at the second of three events presented by the Center for Jewish Life celebrating Jewish Book Month. The event will take place Thursday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. in the Kripke Jewish Federation Library. The event is free and open to the community.

Gavron, a well-known Israeli author, is the current Schusterman Scholar at the Natan & Hannah Schwalb Center for Jewish and Israeli Studies at UNO. He has published several novels: Ice, Moving, CrocAttack, Almost Dead, Hydromania and his most recent, The Hilltop. The Hilltop, already a bestseller in Israel, has recently been released in the United States. Gavron has also published a collection of short stories, Sex in the Cemetery, plus a non-fiction collection of Jerusalem falafel-joint reviews, Eating Standing Up. His fiction has been translated into German, Russian, Italian, French, English, Dutch, Swedish, Greek and Bulgarian.

Jewish Book Month is promoted by the Jewish Book Council and is an annual event dedicated to the celebration of Jewish books. The roots of Jewish Book Month started in 1925 when Fanny Goldstein, a librarian at the West End Branch of the Boston Public Library, set up an exhibit of Judaic books and used it as a focus of what she called Jewish Book Week. The event was later adopted by communities around the country and expanded to a one-month celebration prior to Hanukkah to promote books of Jewish content as gifts.

For this year’s Dec. 4 event, Gavron will focus on The Hilltop: A Novel. He will provide some background on the settlements included in the novel and what drew him to write about the topic. Gavron will present photos showing his time in the settlements researching. He will discuss how the writing process proceeded while he was conducting research. Gavron will also discuss how the book was received in Israel and abroad. He also relates that he will talk about Tel Aviv Noir, the anthology he co-edited with Etgar Keret, which was also recently published in the US.

Adam Kirsch reviewed The Hilltop in the Tablet, and he writes in part, “Gavron writes realistic fiction with a comic edge that aims to take the temperature of his whole society, to tell us how Israelis live now. …The Hilltop is a cutting satire of the way Israeli government and society colludes with the settlers.”

Gavron is the recipient of numerous awards. Among them, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Creative Award for Authors, the Israeli Bernstein Prize for the novel The Hilltop, the DAAD artists-in-Berlin fellowship in Germany, the Buch Fur Die Stadt award in Germany for the novel CrocAttack and the Prix Courrier International award in France for the same novel. He was the chief writer of the prize-winning computer game Peacemaker, and has contributed to numerous newspapers and magazines, writing on subjects ranging from sports to politics, and from music to food. As the captain of Israel’s national writers’ and poets’ soccer team, he led it in several international matches.

The final event of the Jewish Book Month, PJ Library Gets Ready for Hanukkah, will take place Saturday evening, Dec. 13 from 6-9 p.m. at the Omaha Children’s Museum. The program is free of charge and is open to families with children six months to eight years of age. Older siblings and grandparents are also welcome to attend. Omaha’s PJ Library program provides age-appropriate Jewish-content books on a monthly basis to Jewish children in Omaha. Event details will be included in an upcoming edition of the Jewish Press.

Jewish Book Month events are sponsored by the Center for Jewish Life whose mission it is to maximize involvement of Omaha’s Jewish community in imaginative, compelling and meaningful Jewish experiences. For additional information, please call 402.334.6463 or email mkirchhoff@jewishomaha.org.