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in honor of garlic cloves. . .

- By Sabine Broeck

(Jules Chametzky. Photo by Jerome Liebling, courtesy of Rachel Liebling)

in honor of garlic cloves
baked whole
in rosemary olive oil


that eating together could be
an art
which Americans have perfected

that auld lang syne could come in versions unexpected

that canons are what you make of them

that living in generations brings gracefulness to life

that wisdom does not intimidate

that skin is in the eye of the beholder

that one Jew was personally against the murder
of Jesus, German killing fields, Palestinian revenge and
Zionist “Landnahme” –
all in one breath

that jokes may be sophisticated

that a parent must not be biological



My American Father

- By Ilan Stavans

(Jules Chametzky. Photo by Ned Gray)

Just a couple of days after I arrived to Amherst, Jules Chametzky called to invite me for lunch. My wife and oldest son (the youngest was born three years later) were still in New York. The following day, we met at a local restaurant. Right away, he greeted me in Yiddish, my childhood language. Still a stranger in a new place, that instantly made me feel rooted.

I remember loving his Brooklyn accent from the start. It felt zaftig. It was unlike the Yiddish I had grown up with in Mexico, more earthly. We talked about Abraham Cahan, Anzia Yezierska, Israel Joshua and Isaac Bashevis Singer, and I forget what else. And about family, of course: where our respective ancestors had come from, what year they had immigrated, to where, and so on....


for Jules

- By Jim Hicks

On Thursday, September 23, the founding editor of the Massachusetts Review, Jules Chametzky, died in Amherst, at the age of ninety-three. To commemorate his passing, and to offer his friends an opportunity for reflection and remembrance, we offer here a small gathering of memories, collected from a few of his friends.

I myself only really got to know Jules during the dozen years I’ve been working at the Mass Review, yet it is important to acknowledge just how formative he remained, and will remain, in the direction this magazine has taken. Early on, without any real training or experience in publishing, I desperately needed schooling,...


Our Rabbi

- By Lee Edwards

Jules was my rabbi, and I think he was the rabbi for many of those who came to his service at Wildwood Cemetery on September 27. He was our rabbi in the spiritual sense, in the police procedural, and in the parental sense. He looked after us. He counseled us. He shared his wisdom. He opened doors, and he watched our backs. He frowned upon our enemies.

He appeared to know or to have known everyone of any significance on the planet – James Baldwin, Chinua Achebe, Saul Bellow, Alfred Kazin, Leonard Baskin. He met Gregory Peck in the old House of Walsh; he recognized his voice and, of course, introduced himself. He thought that Gregory Peck was more than handsome enough to have been a movie star. He knew the Normans – Birnbaum, Podhoretz, Mailer. He liked to share his...


Remembering Jules

- By Bruce Laurie

(Jules Chametzky. Photo by Jerome Liebling, courtesy of Rachel Liebling)

Jules and I were colleagues before we were friends. We met in 1973 when we joined about a dozen faculty, aggrieved by budget cuts and administrative incompetence more broadly, on an organizing committee aiming to unionize faculty and librarians on the UMass Amherst campus, which evolved into the Massachusetts Society of Professors (MSP). I got to know his academic work a year later when UMass Press asked me to review the manuscript of his biography of the Jewish radical writer and journalist, Abraham Cahan. We shared an occasional drink and then drew closer together as our union commitment deepened. I helped convince him to become the union’s third president (1979-1980), serving as his vice president...

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