Author Archives: Rachel S. Harris

Rachel S. Harris

About Rachel S. Harris

is Assistant Professor of Israeli Literature and Culture in Comparative &World Literature and the Program in Jewish Culture & Society at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She has published on contemporary Israeli literature and culture in the journals Israel Studies, Shofar, and Modern Jewish Studies. She has written on suicide in Israeli literature, and more recently on women in Israeli film. Her co-edited volume bringing together articles on a range of subjects “Narratives of Dissent: War in Israeli Culture and Arts” will be published in the Fall through Wayne State Press. She is also the series editor for the Dalkey Archive Press “Hebrew Literature in Translation Series” and the Hebrew editor of “The Levant Notebook” an online literary magazine bringing together Middle Eastern fiction and poetry in English translation, along with reviews, and opinion pieces on the state of culture.

I want to be with you – I’m just not sure I want to marry: Rethinking the Wedding Contract!

Rachel S. Harris
May 10, 2013

Me: Why are we getting married? Actually married and not just cohabiting on a permanent basis? Mr Perfect: For tax purposes! Me: Really? That’s the only reason? Mr Perfect: Because it is the socially sanctioned contractual arrangement, encoding normative gender roles and property rights, that provides legitimation and financial advantages within American legal and economic More »

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The Perfect Rabbi

Rachel S. Harris
April 22, 2013

In response to the discussions that have arisen around leadership needs in my synagogue, with the search for a new Rabbi, I propose this alternative job advertisement. To the tune of “The Perfect Nanny” from Mary Poppins. The Perfect Rabbi by Rachel Harris: [Spoken] Wanted a Rabbi for an adorable congregation [Sung] If you want More »

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What is Ahead of Me?

Rachel S. Harris
February 26, 2013

For the mothers of single daughters – this column is for you…. In her article this month Susan Silverman says what is ahead of us is built upon what is behind us. She argues that the values, Jewish ideals, and religious beliefs we have, direct our hand at every turn so that the decisions that More »

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Can I only be a housewife?

Rachel S. Harris
February 26, 2013

We met on Jdate, and on our sixth date Mr Perfect (raised conservative and according to his profile attends synagogue: Never) told me (unexpectedly) that he would keep a kosher home and attend an orthodox synagogue. ‘Oh’ I said ‘This is serious?!’ Six weeks from our first meeting we got engaged. He had to learn More »

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Do we have classes over the Chaggim?

Rachel S. Harris
November 23, 2012

My office doesn’t have a mezuzah on the doorpost, or a family photo on the desk. It is a fairly functional space which maintains my professional identity and from which my personal life is absent. Yet this balance between the public and private is disrupted every year on the first day of class, which is More »

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Being a Jew in a One Shul Town

Rachel S. Harris
October 24, 2012

On a trip to Munich just before the New Year, I remembered what it meant to grow up in a one shul town. I’ve lived on four continents and in more than a dozen different towns and cities, yet I’ve always managed to live somewhere where there was only one synagogue. In the only places More »

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Jonah – The Reluctant Hero

Rachel S. Harris
September 11, 2012

In the four chapters that constitute The Book of Jonah, Jonah’s mission to talk to the people of Nineveh and convince them to repent constitutes only seven verses (3:3-10). The exercise itself is relatively easy: the people heed his message, are penitent and quick to atone. It is Jonah’s own narrative that makes up the More »

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