Summer Reading

Great Jewish Books Summer Program 2017: A Sneak Preview

Every July and August, seventy-two high school students from across North America come to the Yiddish Book Center for our Great Jewish Books Summer Program: five days of reading modern Jewish literature and considering how this rich, challenging legacy informs us in the twenty-first century.

What’s on the reading list for 2017? Here’s a taste:

• “The Loudest Voice,” Grace Paley’s 1959 story about a Jewish girl who’s recruited to serve as the narrator for her school’s Christmas play

The Dybbuk, S. Ansky’s canonical early-twentieth-century play about a young woman possessed by a demon

The Hill of Evil Counsel, Amos Oz’s 1976 novella set in a Jerusalem suburb shortly before the establishment of Israel

• “Split at the Root,” Adrienne Rich’s 1982 essay about growing up in a mixed-faith family and struggling to find her own identity

• “Roman Berman, Massage Therapist,” a poignant and funny short story from David Bezmozgis’s 2003 collection Natasha and Other Stories, about a family of Russian Jews who immigrate to Canada

• “Yentl the Yeshiva Boy,” Isaac Bashevis Singer’s classic 1962 story of a girl who disguises herself as a boy so she can study at a yeshiva

• “Brit Milah,” a short story about an Israeli grandmother who clashes with her daughter over the way she’s raising her newborn son, from Ayelet Tsabari’s award-winning 2015 collection The Best Place on Earth

• “Ana min al-yahud,” Almog Behar’s 2005 fantastical story that explores the meaning of Jewish identity from the perspective of a Mizrahi Jew in Jerusalem

• “Cinderella,” a modern fable by Sayed Kashua, in which an Israeli Jew turns into an Arab every night at midnight

• “A Report to an Academy,” Franz Kafka’s 1917 story of an ape captured by a hunting expedition who learns to adopt human behavior