18: Jew­ish Sto­ries Trans­lat­ed from 18 Languages

  • Review
By – December 19, 2023

Read­ers who are tempt­ed by slim vol­umes of short sto­ries will take great plea­sure in 18: Jew­ish Sto­ries Trans­lat­ed from 18 Lan­guages. Edit­ed by Nora Gold, the book deliv­ers on its promise to share beau­ti­ful­ly craft­ed fic­tion that trans­ports read­ers across the globe in fif­teen min­utes or few­er. Instead of try­ing to answer the age-old ques­tion, What makes a Jew­ish sto­ry a Jew­ish sto­ry?,” the col­lec­tion allows the diverse sto­ries and voic­es of the authors to take cen­ter stage. Cer­tain­ly Jew­ish hol­i­days, com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers and insti­tu­tions, impor­tant his­tor­i­cal events, and anti­semitism appear as threads through­out the book, but they serve more as an orga­niz­ing and the­mat­ic tool than as a state­ment about the Jew­ish canon.

These short sto­ries don’t pro­vide escape from cur­rent events. If any­thing, the inten­si­ty of our moment only height­ens the com­plex­i­ty and nuances of these works. The result is that although these sto­ries can be read in just a few min­utes, they are deeply thought-pro­vok­ing; we must spend more time with them in order to appre­ci­ate them in full. 

This book serves as a tes­ta­ment to the pow­er of trans­la­tion. The major­i­ty of the sto­ries were orig­i­nal­ly writ­ten in Euro­pean lan­guages, and some read­ers may be dis­ap­point­ed not to see more rep­re­sen­ta­tion from non-West­ern Jew­ish cul­tures. Nev­er­the­less, Gold’s col­lec­tion is the per­fect exam­ple of why cre­at­ing a place for such works is a valu­able exer­cise. With any luck, Gold and oth­er tal­ent­ed authors and trans­la­tors of Jew­ish sto­ries will bring us more vol­umes in the future.

Deb­by Miller is a long-time board mem­ber of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil, serv­ing on its Fic­tion com­mit­tee, and lat­er found­ing the Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award for Book Clubs. She is cur­rent­ly a Vice Pres­i­dent of the orga­ni­za­tion. Deb­by is based in Greens­boro, NC and has been involved in the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty through Nation­al Coun­cil of Jew­ish Women (NCJW), AIPAC, B’nai Shalom and the Fed­er­a­tion. She was pres­i­dent of the local Women’s Divi­sion and cam­paign chair, and also got involved in the Nation­al Women’s Divi­sion. One of her pri­ma­ry phil­an­thropic endeav­ors is her work with JDC, where she has been a mem­ber of the board since 1994

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