Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Jewish Community Center”

Speaking on Sunday – Two Worlds Connect

Tomorrow I will be speaking at the Books & Bagels event at the Jewish Community Center (1414 Walnut Street, Berkeley). The event is free and features – well me and the carbs!

It’s always interesting speaking at a Jewish venue. As the director of San Francisco Hillel I speak at various Jewish venues around the Bay Area. Part of my job description is networking and reaching out to students, donors and potential stakeholders.

When I promoted my book at the Jewish community’s annual Bookfest, I felt very aware that my two worlds are intermingling. I met many who knew me as the Hillel director and presented another side of myself.

Prior to that event, I had felt uncomfortable mixing the two worlds. But as I spoke with more people, a mental bridge began to connect them. As a Hillel director, I am deeply invested in prioritizing social justice in the Jewish campus agenda (taking students to help rebuild the Gulf Coast, volunteering at Project Homeless Connect and the San Francisco Food Bank). As an author, I write to promote a better world, to highlight social injustices, and help create Tikkun Olam – a better world.

I don’t know if I will mention my Jewish world when I address the group tomorrow at the Jewish Community Center, but if I do, I will feel increasingly comfortable with the developing interconnection.

If you are around Berkeley tomorrow morning (10.30), I’d be happy to see some familiar faces.

Good Writing,
Alon
http://www.alonshalev.com/

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Two Worlds Converge

Tomorrow I will be selling my book, Oilspill dotcom, at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center Book Festival. I am excited. The festival is about Jewish literature, and not Jewish authors, and since Oilspill dotcom doesn’t have any Jewish content, I count myself lucky to be there.

I have been allowed in through the back door because my full-time job is as the head of a Jewish non-profit which is seen as a vital component in the Jewish Community – The San Francisco Hillel provides educational opportunities and support for Jewish students in a part of the US where it isn’t always easy to be openly Jewish on campus.

My claim with the bookseller at the festival is that I am a recognizable figure and plan to hang out by the book table.

This is true. But it also brings up another issue. I have never exploited this circle of influence to market myself as an author of political fiction. When I launched the book, I certainly told everyone and have received varying degrees of support from students, fellow staff and stakeholders. I could have pushed for more coverage, for readings, and included more plugs in my correspondents and updates.

But generally I have kept the worlds apart. I’m not sure why. I doubt that even those who might take issue with my view of multinational corporations would hold it against me in my work at SF Hillel.

I do believe that part of my drive to write novels that spotlight and challenge social injustices comes from the emphasis that Judaism puts on Tikkun Olam – fixing the world.

So on Sunday I will wear my smarter work clothes to ensure I am recognized and will discuss political literature alongside Jewish identity, look for common ground, and hopefully sell a few books in the process.

Good Writing,
Alon
http://www.alonshalev.com/

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