For those who cannot attend this week’s event at [Words] bookstore in Maplewood, N.J., there is the audio component of the Dying Words project. Through a pair of episodes hosted respectively by Rachel Maddow and Brooke Gladstone, the AIDS diagnosis of New York Times reporter Jeffrey Schmalz and final years of related reporting are retraced. Schmalz passed away in 1993.
The companion book was written by Times religion columnist Samuel G. Freedman and Kerry Donahue. Both are Columbia Journalism school professors and will be at [Words] Feb. 3 for the evening book signing. From a recent preview piece in the New Jersey Jewish News:
Freedman has called [mentor] Schmalz his “rabbi.”
“Jeff wasn’t Jewish,” he wrote. “But doing this work is a Jewish act for me…. Every Shabbat, the names of the yahrzeits from the preceding week are read aloud. Remembering those who’ve died is a Jewish thing to do, a godly thing to do.”
Freedman said his hope is that Dying Words “will restore Jeff’s name and work to the annals of LGBT history and journalistic history.”
Dying Words was released Dec. 1 to coincide with 2015 World AIDS Day. More event details can be found here.