Yoni Gutenmacher is Writing Fiction for our Jewish Time



March 28, 2024

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Havurah on March 26, 2024.

Yoni Gutenmacher is a graduate student at Brooklyn College, currently completing his last semester in the MFA Creative Writing program, with a focus on fiction. Based in New York, Yoni’s work both as a writer and a member of the Jewish community has been informed by his experiences within the city’s diverse cultural landscape.

Gutenmacher’s experience at both University of Pennsylvania and now Brooklyn College provided him with a unique vantage point on Jewish communal life, offering a glimpse into the potential for more dynamic and resilient Jewish communities. This perspective has been a source of hope for him, reinforcing his belief in the capacity for Jewish identity to evolve and adapt in the face of changing times. 

His role as a writer intersects intriguingly with his Jewish identity; he describes himself as a “noticer of the Jews,” always on the periphery, observing and reflecting on the community from both within and without. This dual role empowers him to capture the essence of Jewish life, transforming his observations into narratives that resonate with authenticity and insight.

Since October 7th, amid a rising tide of antisemitism, Yoni has found solace and strength in his craft. He has been channeling his experiences and observations into stories that highlight Jewish characters and themes, not as a solution to the challenges faced by the Jewish community but as a testament to their continued existence and resilience. His fiction, inspired by the likes of [Virginia] Woolf and [Jorge Luis] Borges, delves into the complexities of the human mind and the intricate dance of interpersonal relationships. Occasionally, he turns to poetry for respite, further showcasing his versatility as a writer.

One of Yoni’s most significant achievements has been the creation and publication of “Verklempt!,” Havurah’s literary magazine that serves as a platform for Jewish art and literature. This endeavor has not only been a source of pride for him but also an avenue through which he has connected with a plethora of Jewish artists and writers. The magazine has become a mirror reflecting the diversity and richness of Jewish creativity, inspiring Yoni and the Jewish community alike.

As Yoni prepares to graduate, his work stands as a testament to the richness of Jewish life and the depth of human experience, reflecting a commitment to exploring and articulating the multifaceted nature of identity and community through the written word.