This week Good Shabbos Nebraska - America's favorite Shabbos morning talk show - will feature special guest Avital Chizhik, a columnist for Haaretz, Israel's most widely read daily newspaper.
Avital, 22, gained recognition as a serious journalist for a story on the intriguing and mysterious case of the library of Rabbi Yitzchak Shneerson, the 6th Lubvaitcher Rebbe. The library was seized almost 100 years ago by the Bolsheviks and eventually landed in the archives of Moscow’s national Lenin Library. Since then, the some 15,000 volumes have been the subject of a bitter property dispute that has been a source of tension between the U.S. and Russian governments. Because of the dispute, for the last two years Russians have refused to loan any artwork to American museums, fearing that once the pieces enter the U.S they will be seized and used as leverage to ransom the Shneerson Library.
Avital is an Orthodox Jewish woman, the daughter of Russian immigrants, and she speaks fluent Russian. Her background and language skills uniquely positioned her to do research on the case both here and in Russia. Her piece was published by Tablet Magazine in September of 2013 and has subsequently appeared in many other publications.
For Haaretz, Avital writes pieces of human interest that give her readers a glimpse into the lives of interesting famous, and sometimes not so famous, Jewish personalities, as well as a perspective from foreign and exotic communities and cultures. Among those exotic cultures that Avital writes about is the world of the young Orthodox Jewish woman. It is widely believed that there is a divide in Israel between secular and religious Israelis, and that the two sides have little exposure to one another. Avital has established herself as an articulate, sophisticated, and at times sassy voice for Orthodox Jewish women in a newspaper that caters to a mostly secular audience.
She gained international attention with a piece that she wrote earlier this year responding to a comment by Israeli author and cultural icon Amos Oz. When talking in an interview about his latest work he referred to Orthodox Jewish tradition as a “fossil,” and suggested that those who identify as Orthodox are incapable of intellectual curiosity or rational thinking. Oz was, and remains, Avital’s greatest literary influence and the subject of her undergraduate thesis paper. Never the less, Avital responded to Oz in a dignified and respectful piece that beautifully articulates the vibrancy of contemporary Orthodox Jewish thought.
Avital is thrilled to be a guest on Good Shabbos Nebraska and hopes to write an article for Haaretz about our talk show Shabbos format and our community.
For those who don’t know, Good Shabbos Nebraska is our weekly Shabbos morning talk show that features Torah, Jewish news, and exciting guests. The show is not broadcast in any way and the only way to experience it is by coming to shul at 10am every Shabbos at Beth Israel synagogue – where every Shabbos is a Shabbaton!