MY JEWISH NAME by Nancy Shiffrin

MY JEWISH NAME by Nancy Shiffrin - prose collection describing a reconnection with Judaism through study of Jewish women authors
Nancy Shiffrin's
reconnection with Judaism
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MY JEWISH NAME  combines essay, fiction and poetry into a narrative of reconnection with Judaism through an understanding of the Jewish women's vital role as authors of Jewish text.  The work is derived from my dissertation at The Union Institute of Cincinnati, Ohio, The Ever changing and the Everlasting:  One Jewish Awakening the the Culture of Multi-Culturalism, (University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, MI, 1994.)

I've presented my work on Jewish literature and Jewish identity at The Workman's Circle, The National Women's Studies Association, The Western and Mid-Western Jewish Studies Associations, The Santa Monica Public Library, The Beyond Baroque Foundation, The Society for Humanistic Judaism, The University of Northern Iowa.  My essay, "Resisting Rome:  The Gift of Muriel Rukeyser's Jewishness" received honorable mention in the Dora Teitelboim Foundation Jewish Cultural Writing Contest in 1998 and was published in The Canadian Jewish Outlook.

Here are some excerpts:

"Excluded from the House of Text how is one to find home?  In addition to being a name for the deity, Shekhina is a place word.  Jewish women's search for Shekhina, for the Divine Feminine, the 'in-dwelling presence', is connected with yearning for homeland, the desire for safety, belonging and freedom.  It is also connected with our desire to name ourselves and redefine our literary narrative, to make the Feminine central.  Names are neither accidental nor coincidental.  To exist humanly is to name self, God and the world..."


we sing   write prayers
search ancient texts for Shekhina
a man   toddler in his lap sits with us
in a borrowed room   we learn
about altars for Asherah in Solomon's courtyard
our voices meet the Cantor's high soprano
the child cries   the man carries him out
wind slams the door behind them
something hovers beats Her wings
walks among us   we feel Her warmth
in our own vibrant hands incandescent faces


I learn The Holy Letters
which parted the waters   divided Heaven from Earth
the letters without which I cannot
know myself or place myself in time
I struggle to recognize shapes imitate sounds
I yearn for number and story
I must be careful
to look through my bifocals at just the right angle
I am too easily distracted by children skating
speech spiced with Armenian Russian Farsi
unwitting recipients of the mercy I beg for

Both Rosh Chodesh and Learning the Language are included in my poetry collection  THE VAST UNKNOWING,  available from me personally.
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A new edition of  MY JEWISH NAME  is forthcoming.

To find out more and/or to order books, contact me at
1112 Montana Avenue #636 Santa Monica CA 90403  310.302.1107

Copyright © 2010 Nancy Shiffrin, PhD.  All rights reserved.

Nancy Shiffrin, PhD - Creative Writing Services - poet, critic, journalist, fiction writer, teacher
Nancy Shiffrin, PhD
poet, critic, journalist,
fiction writer, teacher