The Schmooze

The Pit of Tel Aviv, A Preliminary Damage Report

Avi Steinberg’s first book, “Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian,” is now available. His blog posts are being featured this week 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:


I was on a roll with my manuscript, a prison library memoir, of all things, and then Kafka rolled into my life. Or rather, I rolled into his. At about the time I was finishing up my final edits for “Running the Books” — my fledgling first book — my life fell into the abyss described by the good Dr. Kafka:

“What are you building?” asks the man.
“I want to dig a subterranean passage,” the second man shouts back. And continues, “Some progress must be made. My station up there is way too high. We are digging the Pit of Babel.”

Directly under every proud edifice, under every act of creative ambition, is a pit that will — that must! — take the mission in precisely the opposite direction. My pit was, appropriately, located in Tel Aviv.

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The Pit of Tel Aviv, A Preliminary Damage Report

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