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There’s Jews in Texas? (Poetry)

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The main complaint about Debra Winegarten’s “There’s Jews in Texas?” is that it is too short. She has included 13 poems in this collection and they serve to whet the reader’s appetite for more. Her poetry is universal and speaks to those of a spiritual soul. It touches on her youth and the what it was like growing up in Texas’s Jewish community.

36 pages, Softcover

A bit About the Author
Debra Winegarten works for the Department of Astronomy at the University of Texas–Austin and writes poetry at night, with poignancy and pathos, compassion and a real sense of humor.

In the Bible

There is scathing speech, like the piercings of a sword, but the language of the wise is healing
--PROVERBS 12:18

Poetry is not foreign to Judaism. In the same way that it is used to express that which goes beyond prose in the general culture, so too it is used in the Bible. The first biblical poem of any length is the Song at the Sea, when the Children of Israel rejoice for all their worth upon their escape and salvation from the Egyptians. As much as their tone expresses joy, it also is replete with wonder and thanksgiving. In this same vein, the verse in the Book of Psalms touches on every human emotion under the sun – from anger to thanksgiving, penitence to relief to praise. When used in poetry, words capture the essence of a thing, whether emotion or narrative, in a way that can be heavy-hitting, lighthearted, or simply food for thought.

Article

Poetry Expresses the Universal in the Personal

There's Jews in Texas? A collection of poetry by Debra Winegarten

There’s Jews in Texas? A collection of poetry by Debra Winegarten

A third-generation Texan, Debra Winegarten began writing poetry at a young age, and was first published when she was in the third grade. Her skill as a poet has increased over time, and her topics are both relatable and meaningful, even if one is not from Texas.

Thematically, Winegarten’s poetry touches on her experiences growing up as a Jew in Texas, as the title indicates. She was raised in the Reform Movement, and had a tumultuous experience in deepening her commitment to Judaism, particularly when she was let down by Jewish leadership figures she’d admired. But these poems go beyond the specifics of that upbringing, and convey emotions and experiences that are universal, in that they are felt personally by so many, with such diverse stories.

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There’s Jews in Texas? opens with reflections on second grade, including the discovery of minority status. That is, the same events that take place in the lives of the vast majority of people (Americans, anyway) are shaped by the uniqueness of Winegarten’s tale. Moreover, she tells her stories with the wisdom of hindsight, bringing an adult perspective to the childhood memories.

Other poems address the loss of her mother, another experience that is both universal and intensely personal. “Kaddish”, for example, reflects this. Indeed, Winegarten’s mother is a prominent figure in these poems.

Winegarten is an artist with her words. She brings a new lens to her own perspective on the world in her poems, and in sharing those reflections with her readers, they, too, acquire new insight on their own experiences in the world. Read them and remember, read them and laugh, read them and cry; any which way, these poems will bring you to muse and reflect, and isn’t that the beauty of poetry?

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What others are saying

  1. Question

    Sharon M.

    My reponse is: So, there are Jews in Texas?!? (Just kidding!) Just like China-not expected, but in a diaspora, people go where they will. Would love to read this book and will probably buy a copy at some point in the future…! Looking forward to it –

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