Austin Ratner


Getting Schooled in Poetry by Robert Pinsky

By Austin Ratner

Getting Schooled in Poetry by Robert Pinsky
Reading great poetry can put you into contact with the sublime. No one knows that better than Robert Pinsky, author of a new book called ‘Singing School.’Read More


Passover, the Warsaw Ghetto, Sigmund Freud, and the Psychology of Bigotry

By Austin Ratner

Passover, the Warsaw Ghetto, Sigmund Freud, and the Psychology of Bigotry
The Warsaw Ghetto uprising began on Passover eve in 1943. While we meditate on how the God delivered us from Egypt, we should note the tyranny in Europe just 70 years ago.Read More


A Novel About Early Childhood

By Austin Ratner

Earlier this week, Sami Rohr Prize winner Austin Ratner discussed the land of the living versus the land of “The Princess Bride.” His blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit: Read More


My Name Is Inigo Montoya

By Austin Ratner

Austin Ratner won the 2011 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for his first novel, “The Jump Artist.” His new novel, “In the Land of the Living,” is now available. His blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit: Read More


Pitting Family Against Politics in Ohio

By Austin Ratner

Pitting Family Against Politics in Ohio
The Jewish extended family is one of the loveliest, comfiest, most rewarding aspects of the heritage. It’s also a complicating factor in one Ohio family.Read More






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  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
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