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Chabad of the North Shore hosts award-winning writer on Jewish identity

This article was published 1 year(s) and 6 month(s) ago.

LYNN — Chabad of the North Shore and Rabbi Yossi Lipsker are inviting the public to attend the first lecture of the year, a conversation with an award-winning author Dara Horn titled “Facing anti-Semitism head-on” on Monday, Nov. 15.

Lipsker said that they have invited Horn because she uses her pen as a literary scalpel that dissects anti-Semitism in its current state.

“She has shined a glaring light on the hatred lurking in the shadows,” said Lipsker. “The current spasms of attacks on Jews in the streets of every major city is merely the tip of the 2021 version of the oldest hatred in the world.”

Horn, an acclaimed novelist from New Jersey, has recently published her sixth book, an essay collection called “People Love Dead Jews” (Norton 2021). The book features 12 individual but thematically-linked pieces that explore how the non-Jewish world looks at Jews in a non-Jewish society, and how Jews have been gaslighted, manipulated or forced to erase themselves in an effort to survive, including in contemporary America.

The book is a finalist for the Kirkus Prize for 2021.

Her previous books, all novels, focused on how Jews lived in different places and eras. However, in this case she wanted to “unravel, document, describe and articulate the endless unspoken ways the popular obsession with dead Jews, even in its most benign and civic-minded forms, is a profound affront to human dignity, as Horn, 44, wrote in the introduction to the book.

To research and demonstrate how, why and when Jews have been “expected to erase themselves in interactions with the non-Jewish world,” Horn studied campaigns of the Soviet regime, history of the early-20th-century Jewish population in Harbin, China, and a modern digital project Diarna, that preserves remnants of the Jewish civilization in North Africa and the Middle East.

Horn arrived at the conclusion that Jews were made into a metaphor, however, “The problem is that for us, dead Jews aren’t a metaphor, but rather actual people that we do not want our children to become,” she wrote.

Horn received her doctorate in Yiddish and Hebrew literature from Harvard University. She has taught courses in these subjects at Sarah Lawrence College and Yeshiva University and has held the Gerald Weinstock Visiting Professorship in Jewish Studies at Harvard.

Her nonfiction work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Smithsonian, and The Jewish Review of Books, among many other publications, and she is a regular columnist for Tablet.

She is a recipient of two National Jewish Book Awards, the Edward Lewis Wallant Award, the Harold U. Ribalow Award, and the Reform Judaism Fiction Prize, and she was a finalist for the JW Wingate Prize, the Simpson Family Literary Prize, and the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. Her books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books, Booklist’s Best 25 Books of the Decade, and San Francisco Chronicle’s Best Books of the Year, and have been translated into 11 languages.

Horn lives in New Jersey with her husband and four children.

The event will take place at Brill Family Jewish Library on 151 Ocean St. in Lynn. It will start with a cocktail hour and a meet-and-greet at 6 p.m. The lecture and the conversation will follow at 7 p.m. There is also an option to view the lecture virtually.

Chabad of the North Shore is serving the community at five locations in Swampscott, Peabody, Everett, Lynn and Cape Ann.

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