The 2020 Naamani Memorial Lecture: Ayelet Tsabari

Ayelet Tsabari is one of the most exciting voices of the young generation of the Mizrahi Jewish experience and the author of two award-winning and critically acclaimed books.

Her popular short story collection, The Best Place on Earth, won both the prestigious Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Fiction and the Edward Lewis Wallant Award, and was listed on Kirkus Review Best Fiction of 2016. The Art of Leaving is an intimate memoir exploring her restless early years, searching for love, belonging, and an escape from grief following the death of her father when she was just nine years old. His passing left her feeling rootless, devastated, and driven to question her complex identity as an Israeli of Yemeni descent in a country that suppressed her ancestors’ traditions.

In The Art of Leaving, Tsabari tells her story, from her early love of writing and words, to her rebellion during her mandatory service in the Israeli army. She travels from Israel to New York, Canada, Thailand, and India, falling in and out of love with countries, men and women, drugs and alcohol, running away from responsibilities and refusing to settle in one place. She recounts her first marriage; her struggle to define herself as a writer in a new language; her decision to become a mother; and finally her rediscovery and embrace of her family history—generations of headstrong women who struggled to choose between their hearts and their homes. With fierce, emotional prose, Tsabari crafts a beautiful meditation about the lengths we must go to vanquish our grief, the universal search to find a place where we belong, and the sense of home we must all struggle to find within ourselves.

The lecture will be followed by a reception, featuring refreshments, as well as a book sale and signing.

This event is free and open to the public. RSVPs are encouraged and should be directed, along with any questions, to Joshua Boydstun (; 502-852-0460).

The Ekstrom Library, including the Chao Auditorium, is an accessible facility. Please indicate if you need any special services, assistance, or accommodations to participate in this program by contacting Joshua Boydstun (; 502-852-0460) by Monday, February 10.

The Naamani Memorial Lecture Series was established in 1979 to honor the memory of Professor Israel T. Naamani, a key educational figure, scholar, and teacher at UofL, and a beloved member of the Jewish community. The series is supported by donations to the Naamani Memorial Lecture Fund.

Sunday, February 16 at 1:00pm to 3:00pm

Ekstrom Library, Chao Auditorium (Lower Level West)
2215 S. 3rd Street , Louisville, Kentucky 40208

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Students, Faculty/staff, Public


Arts & Sciences, English, Humanities, Jewish Studies




creative writing

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Joshua Boydstun

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