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Editor's Pick: "Eruv" by David Milofsky
August 24, 2015
Just as many readers have a favorite piece from a past issue, the Bellevue Literary Review editors have writings that have resonated with them long after publication. These are pieces that stood out in the slush pile, that are still vivid even years after first reading them. These stories, essays, and poems are particularly engaging and thought-provoking—the writing smart and alive—and deserving of another turn in the spotlight. Here's the latest selection:
Senior Fiction Editor Ronna Wineberg on "Eruv" by David Milofsky:
When I read “Eruv” by David Milofsky, I was immediately drawn into the story. A group of observant Jews have moved into a small Colorado suburb, and the residents are grappling with the changes in their neighborhood. “On Saturday morning, you could see a pious army in satin wrappers and beaver hats, issuing from hotel row up the hill to the synagogue and back after Havdalah, which marked the end of the Sabbath.” The story has a wonderful rhythm, and the characters and town are described in deft, vivid strokes. Some citizens want to block the building of a larger synagogue, and the reader joins them at the zoning board meeting where Rabbi Yakov Blitz eloquently pleads his case. We watch as prejudice grows and changes. The story was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and was chosen as a Pushcart Notable story. “Eruv” is beautifully written and shows us something important about mistrust, intolerance, and the humanity we all share.
||David Milofsky has published four novels and many short stories in a variety of national magazines. He has won fellowships for his work from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the MacDowell Colony and received the Prairie Schooner Short Story Award. He was formerly editor of Denver Quarterly and Colorado Review and was the Founding Editor of the Colorado Prize in Poetry. For ten years, he conducted the widely-read "Bookbeat" column in The Denver Post and is a winner of the Colorado Book Award for Color of Law. He is Emeritus Professor of English at Colorado State University.|
||"Eruv" appears in BLR V9N1 (Spring 2009)
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It started small, two rooms in an office building adjacent to a strip mall with a Safeway and a branch bank. One day a sign appeared on the door: Jewish Enlightenment Center, Rabbi Yakov Blitz, Leader. No one knew what to think about that, though Dotty Adams remarked that she hadn’t known there were any Jews in the neighborhood, and some patients of the optometrist next door said that the men in long black coats and broad-brimmed hats and women in long skirts and babushkas that visited the rabbi made them uncomfortable. They wondered if the men were Goths, like those boys at Columbine. But someone pointed out that those boys weren’t Jewish which put a stop to that.
Within three months another office became available when an actuary with a small suite relocated to Cherry Hills Farms and then within a year the whole third floor was occupied by the Jewish organization. Activities increased accordingly. Now, in addition to Shabbat services on Saturday, there were gatherings for religious dancing and even a boys’ klezmer band that people as far away as the liquor store could hear tuning up on weekends. Yet while men in traditional black clothing, women in bowl-shaped wigs, and little boys with payes and tsit-tsit hanging beneath their sweaters now frequented the kosher aisles in the grocery store, no one complained. Some people thought the Jews might be actors.
In fact, no one in our neighborhood said a word until Blitz and his followers purchased the New Zion church on the corner after the Lutherans moved out. First it was Koreans in the old Baptist church and now a Jewish community down near the corner. Someone said the neighborhood was beginning to look more like Brooklyn than a suburb in Colorado. The person who said this had never been east of Limon, but the point had been made. Things were changing and most people felt change was seldom for the better.