"Jews in the Midwest": 2nd Annual Event

Writing Jewish: Midrash, Myth and Miracle

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Lawrence Jewish Community Congregation 

917 Highland Drive, Lawrence, KS 66044

10:00am - 12:00pm: Writing workshop with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, 2009-2013 Kansas Poet Laureate
1:45pm - 5:00pm: Symposium, 3 talks by Jewish writers:
Rena Rossner, author and literary agent
Renee Perelmutter, author, Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and of Slavic Languages & Literatures
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, author and Kansas Poet Laureate 2009-2013


Schedule of events

Writing workshop (RSVP below)
10:00am-12:00pm "Writing Midrash: Miracles, Mysteries and Meanings" a writing workshop with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
12:00pm-1:30pm Lunch, free for workshop participants (RSVP required, participation limited to 30 members, Kosher lunch available, request by Oct. 5 [reserve: Jewishstudies@ku.edu or 785-864-4664])
1:45pm Opening remarks
2:00pm Rena Rossner
3:00pm Renee Perelmutter
4:00pm Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
5:00pm Reception
"Writing Jewish: Midrash, Myth, and Miracle" is a one-day writing workshop and symposium, celebrating Jewish literature and creative writing in the heartland. Participation in the workshop limited to 30 participants, RSVP required. Symposium is free and open to the public.
Morning writing workshop with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg: "Writing Midrash: Miracles, Mysteries and Meanings"
Writing our own midrash - the Hebrew tradition of re-visioning traditional texts from the Torah and beyond -- allows us to get into the control room of cultural and religious dominant narratives to rescript how we live and re-vision who we are. Using innovative and short writing prompts based on poetic meanderings through midrash, we'll find our way into unearthing and inventing individual and collective stories that can lead us to greater freedom and resilience. Throughout the workshop, open to anyone interested in midrash and writing, participants can experiment with poems, stories, and any other form of writing that calls to them.

To RSVP for the morning writing workshop with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg please click here.


For the writing workshop, lunch is free and provided; for a Kosher lunch please make your request before Oct. 5 by writing to JewishStudies@ku.edu or (785) 864-4664.


Symposium Speakers


Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg (www.carynmirriamgoldberg.com)
2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate / Goddard College
Most recent book: Miriam's Well: A Modern Day Exodus
Lecture: "From Jonah's Tree to Miriam's Well: A Writer's Midrash Journey"


Writing midrash is a way to circle the fire where history, culture, and mythology meet in search of vital truths and callings. In Caryn's first book, Lot's Wife, a collection of poems, to her most recent, the novel Miriam's Well, and in other writing, she has explored the edges of midrash to unearth insights, images, and guiding stories from what lies beneath Jewish myths and mythic characters. She'll also explore writing Jewish in Kansas, and how amplifying our stories can help shift limiting myths about what it means to be a Kansas writer or a "a Yid in the Mid," a Jewish writer in the heartland. In this reading and discussion, including excerpts of her writing, she'll share what led her to the brambled trails, underground rivers, and wide fields of midrash, and how the journey, like any spiritual and artistic practice, has been one of continually unfolding mysteries, discoveries, and most of all, questions.


Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate, is a poet, writer, and founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, where she teaches. Author of more than 20 books of poetry, fiction, memoirs, and anthologies, her most recent books include the novel Miriam's Well. Caryn leads writing workshops widely, offers one-on-one writing coaching, and roams the prairies as a visiting scholar. www.CarynMirriamGoldberg.com


Renee Perelmutter (http://roselemberg.net)
Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and Slavic Languages & Literatures at The University of Kansas
Most recent book: Marginalia to Stone Bird
Lecture: "Queering the Miraculous in the New Jewish Literature of the Fantastic"


Dr. Renee Perelmutter (writing as Rose Lemberg) will examine a range of short stories and poetry created by a new generation of LGBTQIA+ Jewish writers of fantastic literature working in English. Discussing Lemberg's own work, as well as that of Bogi Takács, Sonya Taaffe, Ruthanna Emrys, Jeannelle Ferreira, Shira Glassman, and others, this talk will investigate how these pieces incorporate Kabbalistic and fantastic Jewish elements and observe them through the lens of queer and trans lives and experiences that have often been erased or obscured in the canon of Jewish thought. Some of these works incorporate Jewish fantastic elements into mundane settings, drawing on dybbuks, golems, and wise rabbis to talk about queer and trans Jewish lives through a magic realist lens. Other authors take a more radical departure from tradition, creating secondary worlds that draw on Jewish ethical and religious principles, as well as on Jewish history. This talk will examine a range of genres from secondary world fantasy to cosmic horror, discussing how the rich heritage of Jewish myth and folklore is repurposed to make sense of the past and create a hopeful future for a traditionally disenfranchised segment of the Jewish people..


Dr. Renee Perelmutter is an Associate Professor of Slavic and Jewish Studies at the University of Kansas. As an academic, Dr. Perelmutter works on Jewish-Slavic sociolinguistic interaction, post-Soviet Jewish language(s) in the context of migration, and more generally on post-Soviet religious discourse and folklore. Writing as Rose Lemberg, they have published fiction and poetry of the fantastic, which draw on Jewish and LGBTQIA+ themes. Rose Lemberg has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, and other awards. 



Rena Rossner (www.renarossner.com)
Author and Literary Agent
Most recent book: The Sisters of the Winter Wood
Lecture: "Don't Ask Questions about Fairy Tales: Jewish Myths and Legends Re-Imagined"


What is Jewish fantasy? Using her debut novel THE SISTERS OF THE WINTER WOOD as a jumping off point, Rena Rossner will discuss all the elements that go into creating a Jewish fantasy novel that is rooted in Midrash, Hassidic Tales, Kabbalistic texts, and folklore. How does one tap into elements of Jewish myth and magic, when many of these elements have been excised from mainstream Jewish practice due to fear, patriarchal control of sacred practices, and an age-old belief that God removed prophecy from the Jewish people after the destruction of the Second Temple? How do we pull from snippets of magic in Judaism in order to craft our own tales? Do those myths and magics change from tradition to tradition - Sephardi vs Ashkenazi, Hassidic vs Litvak and more? How do these different strands of our tradition approach culture and faith? How can we use Hassidic stories as texts, telling our Jewish stories in our own creative work to create a new generation of Jewish fantasy?


Rena Rossner lives in Israel where she works as a Literary Agent. She is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University's Writing Seminars program, Trinity College Dublin and McGill University where she studied history. All eight of her great grandparents immigrated to America to escape the pogroms in Moldova, Russia, Romania and the Ukraine - from towns like Dubossary, Kupel, Riga and Bendera. It is their story, together with her love of Jewish mythology and fantasy, that inspired her to write The Sisters of the Winter Wood.

We thank our KU sponsors:The Offices of the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, of the Provost and Chancellor of the University of Kansas, and of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Equity; the Departments and Programs of American Studies, English, Global and International Studies, History, Humanities and Western Civilization, Religious Studies, Women Gender and Sexuality Studies; and the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; and The Hall Center for the Humanities.


This event is organized by the KU Jewish Studies Program. Please direct questions to JewishStudies@ku.edu or (785) 864-4664.


Principal funding for this program is provided by The Community Legacy Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City.


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