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Repost from the Jewish Insider: Building a 'culture worth fighting for' after Oct. 7, one workshop at a time

 I was delighted to be interviewed by Lahav Harkov about a recent writing workshop I attended on Zoom. The writing prompt was to seek out something humorous post October 7 to help us cope with the chaos. Naturally, I chose a tower of tuna fish. 


"Writing on the Wall" is a new creative writing community founded to 'make something of our desolation' following the Hamas attack

By Lahav Harkov May 29, 2024

It was the cans of tuna that author Gila Green hoarded in her safe room that finally unlocked her case of writer's block after the trauma of Oct. 7.

Green took part in a workshop earlier this month that is part of "Writing on the Wall," an online community aimed at producing art that reflects the complexities of Jewish and Israeli life at this time.

The workshop led by Bar-Ilan University English professor William Kolbrener and novelist and Ph.D. student Ronit Eitan was titled "Haven't the Jewish People Suffered Enough" — how humor "transforms tragedy into laughter."

Humor, Kolbrener told attendees, "is a long Jewish tradition. That's how Jews deal with tragedy."

The workshop began with a reading, a selection from a David Foster Wallace essay in Rolling Stone about life in Bloomington, Ill. after 9/11. A summary that does not do the selection justice: Everyone had American flags up, Wallace wanted one, too, but the stores were sold out. A sympathetic convenience store owner saw his distress and gave him construction paper and markers to draw his own flag.

The writing prompt was to take an ordinary object and use it to say something personal, and something related to Oct. 7. Attendees were given 15 minutes to write, and those who wished read their work aloud.

A woman based in New York wrote about the hostage posters and her response to their defacement – she had never shouted at a stranger before, she said.

Objects collected in safe rooms – water bottles, cans of tuna – took center stage.

After Green read her piece on collecting canned tuna fish, some of which she gave to her daughter who was living in a building without a safe room, one response was that it showed her love for her daughter.

"This insight was valuable and unexpected," Green told Jewish Insider. "Perhaps, unknowingly, I have been more worried about her than I was willing to express." 

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Monday, 17 June 2024

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