Over the Rooftops of Time

Jewish Stories, Essays, Poems

By Myra Sklarew

Subjects: Women's Studies
Series: SUNY series in Modern Jewish Literature and Culture
Paperback : 9780791455760, 212 pages, November 2002
Hardcover : 9780791455753, 212 pages, November 2002

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Table of contents



Learning the Language

The Landscape of Dislocation
From the Backyard of the Diaspora
Learning the Language
Who Has Not Dreamed of Flying
Yiddish Poetry
Morocco: Gauze Curtains, Round Tombs, Hidden Jews
What Hasanin M'Barak Said

Like a Field Riddled by Ants

In the Afterlife Which is a Library
The Messenger
Getting There
Like a Field Riddled by Ants
My Companion the Aleph-Bet

The World Is a Parchment Scrawled with Words

Night Watch
A Journal for John Holmes
From Alexandria to American via Amtrak
Interview with Joseph Brodsky, February 28, 1979
The Howard Poets in Perspective

Life, the Unfinished Experiment

The Selfish Gene (or, Cortazar's Watch)
The Knockout Mouse on the Doorstep of Neurobiology (or, the Mind/Body Problem Revisited)
AIDS: Latency and HIV Reservoirs: In the Dark Backward and Abysm of Time
Human Gene Therapy: Harnessing the Body's Defenses Against Cancer
The Puzzle People
Genes, Blood, and Courage: A Boy Called Immortal Sword
Root Causes: Stem Cells and the Tower of Babel
The Statue Within

A Place Called Gehinom

Writing the Holocaust: auch ohne/Sprache
On Muranowska Street
The Roots of Resistance: Le Chambon

Instructions for the Messiah

Crossing Over
Instructions for the Messiah
What is a Jewish Poem?
Crossing into the New Millennium: American University, Convocation, August 1998
Grandfather: Lost and Found
Ode to the Czar's Assassin
The Messiah Reconsidered



Wide-ranging and poignant reflections on literature, art, science, and memory.


In this collection of essays, stories, and poems, award-winning poet and fiction writer Myra Sklarew traces a journey across the latter half of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. Her point of view is Jewish, though her subjects include science, exile, the future, the Holocaust, the remaining Jewish community of Morocco, Yiddish poetry, the visual arts, and teaching. Many of these pieces deal with personal subjects—the search for a grandfather's birthplace, the death of a mother, the profound effect of a teacher, the struggle of a woman to embrace Judaism. Whether writing about medicine, Messiah, or the first speech of an infant, Sklarew's work finds its roots in Judaism, a Judaism fashioned in large part by the author's own hands. Ultimately, the book is about access, about following one's own curiosity despite the obstacles that might appear along the way. And it is about a kind of belief: that nothing will be wasted, that all that we can learn will have a place in our lives eventually, though we may not know its purpose at the time.

Myra Sklarew is Professor of Literature at American University and the author of many books, including Lithuania: New and Selected Poems and The Witness Trees: Lithuania. She is the recipient of the National Jewish Book Council Award in Poetry, the Di Castagnola Award, and the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award.


"Myra Sklarew is a beautiful writer. The brilliance of her perceptions and her artful rendering of her world in all of its strangeness and mystical garb make this book a testimony to the mind and sensibility of an extraordinary woman with a far-ranging intellect." — Charlotte Goodman, Professor Emerita of English, Skidmore College

"The author's personality, as it emerges in these various writings, is extremely appealing and sympathetic. She is searching, does not shrink from self-revelation, is sensitive to the pain of the world, and, overall, is supremely perceptive and intelligent in what she has to say." — Judith R. Baskin, editor of Women of the Word: Jewish Women and Jewish Writing