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Who Will be for Me?

"Who Will Be For Me?" Jewishness and Otherness in Selected Contemporary Jewish Short Stories with Rabbi David Segal

Course Summary

Primary readings will come from Nathan Englander's recent collection, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, and Jonathan Papernick's The Ascent of Eli Israel. We will read also selections by Lara Vapnyar, Shalom Auslander, Joan Leegant, Etgar Keret, Savyon Liebrecht, and Scott Nadelson, along with complementary classics by Kafka, Ozick, and Roth. These stories will lead us to thought-provoking discussions about how Jews relate to non-Jews; how Jews relate to different Jews; how we search for authenticity and identity; what makes for exile and homecoming; how we think about the Holocaust and memory; and what to make of the fractured Jewish experience in the modern world.


  • Nathan Englander, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

  • Jonathan Papernick, The Ascent of Eli Israel and Other Stories

  • Joan Leegant, An Hour in Paradise

  • Course packet


  • 1: To Hide or Not to Hide?

  • Nathan Englander, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank"

  • Lara Vapnyar, "There Are Jews in My House"

  • Emmanuel Litvinoff, "Introduction" from the Penguin Book of Jewish Short Stories (1979)

  • "General Introduction" from the Norton Anthology of Jewish American Literature

  • 2: A Room of One's Own?

  • Jonathan Papernick, "An Unwelcome Guest"

  • Etgar Keret, "Plague of the Firstborn"from The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God & Other Stories

  • Dara Horn, Introduction to Papernick's Ascent of Eli Israel

  • 3: A History of Violence...

  • Nathan Englander, "Free Fruit for Young Widows"

  • Etgar Keret, "Siren"from The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God and Other Stories

  • Nathan Englander, "Camp Sundown"

  • 4: Otherness Embodied

  • Shalom Auslander, "Metamorphosis" from Beware of God

  • Jonathan Papernick, "The Art of Correcting"

  • classic - Franz Kafka, "A Report to an Academy"

  • John Updike, Foreword to The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka

  • 5: Motherhood and Memory

  • Savyon Liebrecht, "Morning in the Park Among the Nannies" from Apples in the Desert

  • Jonathan Papernick, "For as Long as the Lamp is Burning"

  • Grace Paley, Foreword to Savyon Liebrecht's Apples from the Desert

  • classic - Cynthia Ozick, "The Shawl"

  • Lily Rattok, Introduction to Savyon Liebrecht's Apples from the Desert

  • 6: (Jewish) American Daughters

  • Scott Nadelson, "The Cantor's Daughter"

  • Joan Leegant, "The Lament of the Rabbi's Daughters" from An Hour in Paradise

  • 7: What Goes Up...

  • Joan Leegant, "Seekers in the Holy Land" from An Hour in Paradise

  • Jonathan Papernick, "The Ascent of Eli Israel"

  • classic - Philip Roth, "Eli the Fanatic" from Goodbye, Columbus

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