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Congregation B’nai Jacob Book Group Talk Led by Author Rachel Kaufman

Wednesday, April 27 at 7:30 pm on Zoom

Many to Remember by Rachel Kaufman

Rachel Kaufman’s first poetry collection, Many to Remember, enters the archive’s unconscious to reveal the melodies hidden within the language of the past.  The collection unravels Kaufman’s historical research of New Mexican crypto-Jews and the Mexican Inquisition alongside the poet’s own family histories.  The book navigates questions of memory, transmission, media, and translation and asks, “How can poetry translate history and the rhythms and form of the archive?”

Rachel Kaufman is currently pursuing a PhD in Latin American and Jewish History at UCLA.  Her poetry has appeared on poets.org and in the Harvard Review, Southwestern American Literature, Western Humanities Review, JuxtaProse, and elsewhere, and her prose has appeared in the Yale Historical Review and Rethinking History.  She received a BA in English and History from Yale University.

In the archive, the poet calls to the past, and the past responds.  Her family narrative intertwines with remote chapters of her people’s chronicle; the struggles of grandparents and great-grandparents are juxtaposed with the struggles of the Marranos in the southwest of the seventeenth century which she devotedly studies.  Histories overlap, life stories resonate, unexpected parallels emerge.  Translation is the key:  “At the edge of words,” she tells her ghosts, “I accompany you, seeing.”  From poem to poem in this deeply moving first book, Rachel Kaufman keeps the commandment:  Zakhor!  Remember! – Norman Finkelstein

History’s pieces do not arrive to us whole.  But in poems, they are set afloat, as the poet puts it in “Me’am Lo’ez”, “We’re told/our souls will grow/accustomed to hearing echoes/of our customs—these chantings/set apart from myth to keep/some holiness adrift.”  To receive these pieces is to experience some of this holiness. – Jake Marmer in Tablet Magazine

or more information, please contact Congregation B’nai Jacob at 203-389-2111 



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