Recent projects

Here are links to some of the projects I’ve had the pleasure of working on lately:

The Hidden Jews of Ethiopia: The Beta Israel of Kechene and North Shewa tells a compelling story of a community demonstrating resilience and creativity in the face of extraordinary hardship and discrimination. If you want to purchase a copy in paperback (far more affordable than the hardcover!), send me an email.

Max K. Strassfeld’s Trans Talmud: Androgynes and Eunuchs in Rabbinic Literature will interest students of the Talmud, anyone in the fields of gender studies or rabbinics, trans theory, or intersex theory.

This book should help Chinese Medicine practitioners everywhere figure out strategies for helping people with Covid-19. It records the experiences of Chinese Medicine practitioners in China during the first months of the pandemic. It also includes some poetry about the pandemic.

Rebecca Subar’s When to Talk and When to Fight: The Strategic Choice between Dialogue and Resistance is geared to activists trying to figure out their best strategy at a given moment, but it will also help other people figure out this crucial strategic question, even in much more mundane circumstances.

Here are two really interesting anthologies from Marla Brettschneider and her colleagues: Africana Jewish Journeys and LGBTQ Politics.

The books I list above are ones that I edited. Here’s one that I wrote together with Duchess Harris: check out The Dreamers and DACA, especially if there are any middle-school or high school students in your life! In addition to describing DACA and explaining who the dreamers are, the book also gives an accessible history of immigration to the US. Although the intended audience is tweens and teens, most adults will also find it informative.

Your book could join this list. Contact me to discuss it.

Word of the Year 2017: Respect

Many dictionaries, lexicographers, and others who write about language are choosing a word of the year, so I’ve decided to join them. The Word Nerd’s word of the year for 2017 is “respect.” I define it below only in the sense in which I’ve selected it; it has other meanings as well, but I’m omitting them from this post, because they’re not the meanings of the year.

respect, v.t. to regard and treat with dignity, consideration, and honor; to recognize the rights and dignity of; to regard and treat as inherently worthy

respect, n. recognition of (someone or something’s) dignity, rights, and worth

Why choose “respect” as the word of the year for 2017? Because all of the major issues of the year have to do with respect and lack of respect. One of the words many people have suggesting is #metoo. The #metoo movement is about insisting on respect, and about looking at the many situations in which men have not accorded women respect, and in which people with power have failed to respect people with less power. #BlackLivesMatter is also a movement insisting on respect in the face of a stark lack.

Merriam-Webster selected “feminism” as the word of the year for 2017; feminism is the belief in, and action to promote, the treatment of all people with equal respect, regardless of gender. The OED chose “youthquake;” “youthquake” is about recognizing the worth and contributions of youth. “Collusion” is another word mentioned as a word-of-the-year (or “WOTY”) contender. “Collusion” means secret collaboration for illegal or dishonest purposes. In other words, “collusion” means disrespect for the law and for honor. Another suggestion is the word, “complicit.” “Complicit” means contributing to wrongdoing; involved in criminal or improper activity. Once again, this implies disrespect for the law and for generally accepted rules and norms of behavior.

Other contenders for the 2017 WOTY include “fake news” and “alternative facts.” To decry legitimate news and reporting as “fake news” is to show disrespect both for truth and for the fourth estate; it implies ignorance of the foundational importance of journalism to democracy. Similarly, the concept that one may reject inconvenient facts and substitute “alternative facts” shows a similar disrespect for truth. Both, of course, show the utmost disrespect for listeners and citizens.

In short, all too many of the events that have demanded our attention throughout 2017 have been caused by lack of respect for people and for essential institutions of democracy. May 2018 be the year in which demands for respect crescendo and achieve their goal, so that respect becomes a given for all instead of a privilege for few.

For more words of the year, see:

Oxford Dictionaries




Recent work

I’ve had a variety of interesting projects lately, including editing an article on legal arguments for transgender rights, indexing a scholarly anthology of political science articles about lgbtq issues, and editing a doctoral dissertation on the history of Russian liberals and liberalism in the 19th century. At the same time, I’m continuing to contribute articles to Natural Herbal Living Magazine on a monthly basis, and to publish the occasional poem, most recently, once again, in The Rising Phoenix.

Your project could be next! Do you have a writing project that needs your friendly word nerd’s services?