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Jewish Literary Festival - Anthology

From Sinai to the Shtetl and Beyond: 
Where Is Home for the Jewish Writer?

Edited by Ellen S. Jaffe and Lil Blume
Published by Pinking Shears Publications

All registrants will receive a copy of this anthology created especially for the festival. Copies may be available for sale after June 7; please contact Ellen at for information on obtaining a copy.

Introduction to the Anthology

In thinking about a theme for our 2009 Jewish literary festival, we noticed that many contemporary Jewish writers turned to Yiddish folklore and shtetl life for inspiration. There seemed to be a longing for community, cohesiveness, and heritage represented by the shtetl, but also a relief to be free from the difficulties faced by our ancestors; a search for an Anatevka without the poverty and pogroms. We wondered, "Where is home for the contemporary Jewish writer?"

We asked writers to send us poetry, short fiction, and memoir in which "home" was a feature, and we suggested they consider these questions:

Does writing root you in a "home" land?
Do you have a portable shtetl, or did you leave it in Bubbie's kitchen?
How do themes in your writing link you to the Jewish community from Sinai to the shtetl and beyond?
Are you linked to Yiddish writers of our past? To Jewish writers of today?
What is your mameloshen? How does it speak in your writing?
Who are you channelling?

We received submissions from across Canada. Two of the pieces written specifically in response to our questions begin this anthology. We've grouped our other selections into three sections:

1.  Ancestral Homes - memories of ancestors, stories from shtetl life,homelessness, and wandering.

2.  Moving into the New - impressions of childhood in cities and suburbs, the burden of memory, connections to Israel, and meditations on the sacred.

3.  Beyond

We discovered that home is not only a geographic location, but also a place in the imagination. As Nora Gold says in her poem,

It's the writing itself that's home
It's flying, it's the flight.

We dedicate this book to our mothers,Viola Jaffe and Mary Devor.

Ellen S. Jaffe and Lil Blume
Hamilton, Ontario, May, 2009


Twenty-six notable Canadian Jewish writers from Hamilton, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg,Victoria, Ottawa, Charlottetown, Montreal, and Owen Sound are include in the anthology as well as a former Hamiltonian, now residing in Israel.  Many of them will be reading at the book launch/cabaret on Saturday, June 6, 7:30 p.m. at Temple Anshe Sholom.

Our contributors:  Gary Barwin, Steven Michael Berzensky, Adrienne Drobnies, Baila Ellenbogen, Jane Enkin, Nora Gold, Chaya Esther Halpern, Ellen S. Jaffe, Nomi Kaston, Dvora Levin, Anne Mandlsohn, Seymour Mayne, Steven Mayoff, Andy Thomas McDonald, Maria Meindl, Sharon H. Nelson, Irene Orgel, Ruth Panofsky, Ron Ruskin, Barbara Shainbaum, Karen Shenfeld, Sharon Singer, Adam Sol, J.J. Steinfeld, Elana Wolff, Elizabeth Zetlin