Bestselling author Jay Michaelson on his new book of fiction, covering the Israel-Hamas war, campus antisemitism, and more

Episode 49 · January 25th, 2024 · 1 hr 4 mins

About this Episode

After 20 years of work, Jay Michaelson —scholar, rabbi, lawyer, activist, meditation teacher —has published his first book of fiction, “The Secret That Is Not a Secret: Ten Heretical Tales” (03:30). The linked short stories focus on a range of Jewish characters: Men and women, Orthodox and secular, straight and gay, Israeli and American. Yet each carries a secret desire that could be described as queer, and their stories explore the nature of heresy, queerness, kabbalah, mysticism and the sometimes-thin line between erotic desire and religious yearning. Michaelson would probably have preferred we discussed “The Secret That Is Not a Secret” for the full episode. Yet, we’re living in a post October 7 world and Michaelson, who’d stopped writing about Israel about a decade ago, felt compelled to jump back in. In the Forward and Rolling Stone, he’s written about the ethics of war, the charged nature of the term genocide, the debate about campus antisemitism and the fates of the two Ivy League presidents forced to resign after public uproar. We delve into some of these op-eds (31:40) and discuss how’s he taken care of himself during one of the most emotionally trying times of his life.

Theme song, “Ilu Finu” by Rabbi Miriam Margles. Her album This is the Day is available for purchase at CDBaby:

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