In a 1941 Nazi roundup of educated Poles, Stefan Budziaszek—newly graduated from medical school in Krakow—was incarcerated in the Krakow Montelupich Prison and transferred to the Auschwitz concentration camp in February 1942. German big businesses brutally exploited the cheap labor of prisoners in the camp, and workers were dying. In 1943, Stefan, now a functionary prisoner, was put in charge of the on-site prisoner hospital, which at the time was more like an infirmary staffed by well-connected but untrained prisoners. Stefan transformed this facility from just two barracks into a working hospital and outpatient facility that employed more than 40 prisoner doctors and served a population of 10,000 slave laborers. Stefan and his staff developed the hospital by commandeering medication, surgical equipment, and even building materials, often from the so-called Canada warehouse filled with the effects of Holocaust victims. But where does seeking the cooperation of the Nazi concentration camp staff become collusion with Nazi genocide? How did physicians deal with debilitated patients who faced “selection” for transfer to the gas chambers? Auschwitz was a cauldron of competing agendas. Unexpectedly, ideological rivalry among prisoners themselves manifested itself as well. Prominent Holocaust witnesses Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi both sought treatment at this prisoner hospital. They, other patients, and hospital staff bear witness to the agency of prisoner doctors in an environment better known for death than survival.
At its broadest level, politics is the practice of making a community a better, safer, and more tolerant place to live. So it should be of no surprise that America’s Jews have devoted themselves to civic engagement and the democratic process. From before the Revolutionary War to the early twenty-first century, when America saw the first Jewish vice presidential nominee of a major party and the first Jewish Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Jewish community has always devoted itself to public service, issue advocacy, and involvement in politics and government at every level. While strong support for the safety and security of the state of Israel has been a hallmark of US foreign policy since Israel’s founding, it is by no means the only policy area in which American Jews are involved. Nor are American Jews monolithic in their politics. Although the Jewish community has become a reliable part of the Democratic Party’s base in most partisan elections, American Jews represent a wide range of ideologies on most economic and foreign policy matters. In addition to becoming leaders in business and labor, in academia and in philanthropy, Jewish Americans have always helped shape the discussion over the issues that form the country’s future. In this volume, a mix of professors, graduate students, and lay people in the field of politics with a breadth of experience debate some central questions: Is Israel still the most important policy concern for American Jews? Why does the Jewish community vote Democratic in such overwhelming numbers? Can American Jews balance economic, security and human rights concerns in a rapidly changing international community? And how will such profound transformations affect the role of America’s Jewish community as the United States seeks out its own role in domestic and global politics?
This volume focuses on the special role that Jews played in reshaping the racial landscape of southern California in the twentieth century. Rather than considering this issue in terms of broad analyses of organizations or communities, each contribution instead approaches it by examining the activity of a single Jewish individual, and how he or she navigated the social terrain of a changing southern California. In particular, this volume is one of the first to take seriously the unique racial/ethnic makeup of southern California for Jewish activism, with a particular focus on the relationship between Jews and Mexican Americans in the area around Los Angeles. The Jewish individuals who are this volume’s subjects represent a wide spectrum of backgrounds and perspectives, ranging from an elected official to an activist lawyer, and from a local businessman to a Democratic Party organizer. The volume culminates with an interview with one of the most beloved of local university rabbis, who has been operating in the ever-changing environment of higher education in Los Angeles over the past thirty years. While its overall message is one of optimism, the volume does not shy away from taking on some of the more vexed issues in the scholarship of racial/ethnic interaction. While Jewish activism in shaping local civil rights is thoroughly discussed, the specific and unequal dynamics of power within the civil rights community is also analyzed. The changing relationship of Jews to “whiteness” in southern California during the late twentieth century, in both geographic and political terms, shapes many of these ongoing relationships. Finally, the volume provides a unique historical perspective on our understanding of contemporary Los Angeles in all its ethnic complexity, and specifically in thinking through the future of Jewish role in urban southern California.
In the decades after the Civil War, sports slowly gained a prominent position within American culture. This development provided Jews with opportunities to participate in one of the few American cultures not closed off to them. Jewish athleticism challenged anti-Semitic depictions of Jews’ supposed physical inferiority while helping to construct a modern American Jewish identity. An Americanization narrative emerged that connected Jewish athleticism with full acceptance and integration into American society. This acceptance was not without struggle, but Jews succeeded and participated in the American sporting culture as athletes, coaches, owners, and fans. The diversity of topics in this volume reflect that the field of the history of American Jews and sports is growing and has moved beyond the need to overcome the idea that Jews are simply “People of the Book.” The contributions to this volume paint a broad picture of Jewish participation in sports, with essays written by respected historians who have examined specific sports, individuals, leagues, cities, and the impact of sport on Judaism. Despite the continued belief that Jewish religious or cultural identity remains somehow distinct from the American idea of the “athlete,” the volume demonstrates that American Jews have had a tremendous contribution to American sports—and conversely, that sports have helped construct American Jewish culture and identity.
A dozen Purdue University Jewish faculty members-10 men and 2 women-who were forced to flee their homes in Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Hungary during the Holocaust, tell their stories in a series of interviews conducted by Kleine-Ahlbrandt, a history professor at Purdue and the author of The Burden of Victory: France, Britain and the Enforcement of the Versailles Peace, 1919-1925 (1995). Some of the refugees were unable to escape and survived through hiding and subterfuge or endured the camps. The interviewees, some speaking out for the first time after more than half a century, often found it difficult to recall painful experiences. They discussed the problems of growing up Jewish, especially after the enactment of anti-Jewish legislation; the importance of religion, God, and traditions in their lives; and adjusting to life in the U.S., where finding employment was just one of many obstacles. The author complements the interviews with commentary for readers unfamiliar with the history of World War 1.
The work presented in the volume in fields of the humanities and social sciences is based on 1) the notion of the existence and the "describability" and analysis of a culture (including, e.g., history, literature, society, the arts, etc.) specific of/to the region designated as Central Europe, 2) the relevance of a field designated as Central European Holocaust studies, and 3) the relevance, in the study of culture, of the "comparative" and "contextual" approach designated as "comparative cultural studies." Papers in the volume are by scholars working in Holocaust Studies in Australia, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Serbia, the United Kingdom, and the US.
Author of more than thirteen books and several volumes of poetry, screenwriter, and director, Edith Bruck is one of the leading literary voices in Italy, attracting increasing attention in the English-speaking world not least for her powerful Holocaust testimony, which is often compared with the work of her contemporaries Primo Levi and Giorgio Bassani. Born in Hungary in 1932, she was deported with her family to the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Dachau, Christianstadt, Landsberg, and Bergen-Belsen, where she lost both her parents and a brother. After the war, she traveled widely until 1954 when she settled in Rome. She has lived there ever since. This important new study is motivated by a desire to better understand and situate Bruck’s art as well as to advance (and, when necessary, to revise) the critical discourse on her considerable and eclectic body of work. As such, it underscores and analyzes the intermedial nature of her contributions to contemporary Italian culture, which should no longer be understood merely in terms of her willingness to revisit the subject of the Holocaust on the printed page or the silver screen. It also includes previously unpublished interviews with the author. The book will be of broad interest to scholars and students of Jewish (especially Holocaust) studies, Italian literature, film studies, women’s studies, and postcolonial culture.“This is the first comprehensive scholarly analysis of the work produced by a main contemporary author of Italian Holocaust literature, focused on Bruck’s overall artistic production (novels, poetry, film, and TV productions). It will offer scholars and students alike a new interpretive perspective and a valuable source of reference for their studies.” Gabriella Romani, Seton Hall University.
This volume presents papers delivered at the 24th Annual Klutznick-Harris Symposium, held at Creighton University in October 2011. The contributors look at all aspects of the intimate relationship between Jews and clothing, through case studies from ancient, medieval, recent, and contemporary history. Papers explore topics ranging from Jewish leadership in the textile industry, through the art of fashion in nineteenth century Vienna, to the use of clothing as a badge of ethnic identity, in both secular and religious contexts. Contents: Shmattas in the North, Shmattas in the South: The Civil War and the Birth of the American Clothing Industry (Adam Mendelsohn); Weimar Jewish Chic from Wigs to Furs: Jewish Women and Fashion in 1920s Germany (Kerry Wallach); Jewish Photographers and the Body in the Weimar Republic (Nils Roemer); Female Tallitot: Creating American Jewish Women’s Religious Experience through Fashion (Rachel Gordan); Clothes and the Weaving of American Jewish Comedy (Ted Merwin); The Jewish Badge in Renaissance Italy: The Iconic O, the Yellow Hat, and the Paradoxes of Distinctive Sign Legislation(Flora Cassen); How a Rabbi Should Be Dressed: The Question of Cassock and Clerical Clothing among Italian Rabbis from the Renaissance to Contemporary Times (Asher Salah); The ‘Disinherited’ Priesthood: A Look into Biblical Israel’s Unshod Priest (Christine Palmer); Costume and Identity in the Dura Europos Synagogue Paintings (Steven Fine); Picturing Vienna’s New Woman: Madame d’Ora meets Ella Zwieback-Zirner (Lisa Silverman); Aboriginal Yarmulkes, Ambivalent Attire, and Ironies of Contemporary Jewish Identity (Eric Silverman); Fashioning Jews on the Screen: The Impact of Dress on Crafting the Jewish Image in Film and Television(Brian Amkraut)
This book is both a themed volume on translation and a Festschrift for Leonard J. Greenspoon, the Philip M. and Ethel Klutznick Professor in Jewish Civilization and professor of classical and near Eastern studies and of theology at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Professor Greenspoon has made significant contributions to the study of Jewish biblical translations, particularly the ancient translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, known as the Septuagint. In this volume, an internationally renowned group of scholars presents a wide range of essays on Bible translation, the influence of culture on biblical translation, Bible translations’ reciprocal influence on culture, and the translation of various Jewish texts and collections, especially the Septuagint.
The outsized influence of Jews in American entertainment from the early days of Hollywood to the present has proved an endlessly fascinating and controversial topic, for Jews and non-Jews alike. From Shtetl to Stardom: Jews and Hollywood takes an exciting and innovative approach to this rich and complex material. Exploring the subject from a scholarly perspective as well as up close and personal, the book combines historical and theoretical analysis by leading academics in the field with inside information from prominent entertainment professionals. Essays range from Vincent Brook’s survey of the stubbornly persistent canard of Jewish industry “control” to Lawrence Baron and Joel Rosenberg’s panel presentations on the recent brouhaha over Ben Urwand’s book alleging collaboration between Hollywood and Hitler. Case studies by Howard Rodman and Joshua Louis Moss examine a key Coen brothers film, A Serious Man (Rodman), and Jill Soloway’s groundbreaking television series, Transparent (Moss). Jeffrey Shandler and Shaina Hamermann train their respective lenses on popular satirical comedians of yesteryear (Allan Sherman) and those currently all the rage (Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham, and Sarah Silverman). David Isaacs relates his years of agony and hilarity in the television comedy writers’ room, and interviews include in-depth discussions by Ross Melnick with Laemmle Theatres owner Greg Laemmle (relative of Universal Studios founder Carl Laemmle) and by Michael Renov with Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner. In all, From Shtetl to Stardom offers a uniquely multifaceted, multimediated, and up-to-the-minute account of the remarkable role Jews have played over the centuries and ongoing in American popular culture.
Imre Kertész and Holocaust Literature, the first English language volume on the work of the 2002 Nobel Laureate in Literature contains papers by scholars in Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Hungary, New Zealand, and the USA, as well as historical papers about the background of the Holocaust in Hungary. Articles in the volume are "Imre Kertész and Hungarian Literature" by Enikö Molnár Basa, "Jewishness in Hungary, Imre Kertész, and the Choice of an Identity" by Sara Cohen, "The Aporia of Imre Kertész" by Robert Eaglestone, "Imre Kertész, Hegel, and the Philosophy of Reconciliation" by Amos Friedland, "Identities of the Jew and the Hungarian" by András Gerı, "Representing the Holocaust, Kertész's Fatelessness, and Benigni's La vita è bella" by Bettina von Jagow, "Imre Kertész's Fatelessness as Historical Fiction" by Julia Karolle, "Reading Imre Kertész in English" by Adrienne Kertzer, "Imre Kertész's Fatelessness and the Myth about Auschwitz in Hungary" by Kornélia Koltai, "The Historians' Debate about the Holocaust in Hungary" by András Kovács, "Imre Kertész and Hungary Today" by Magdalena Marsovszky, "Imre Kertész's Aesthetics of the Holocaust" by Sára Molnár, "The Dichotomy of Perspectives in the Work of Imre Kertész and Jorge Semprún" by Marie Peguy, "Imre Kertész and the Filming of Sorstalanság (Fatelessness)" by Catherine Portuges, "Danilo Kis, Imre Kertész, and the Myth of the Holocaust" by Rosana Ratkovćić, "Imre Kertész's Jegyzıkönyv (Sworn Statement) and the Self Deprived of Itself" by Tamás Scheibner, "Imre Kertész's Kaddish for an Unborn Child" by Eluned Summers-Bremner, "Imre Kertész's Nobel Prize in Literature and the Print Media" by Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek, "Holocaust Literature and Imre Kertész" by Paul Várnai, "The Novelness of Imre Kertész's Fatelessness" by Louise O. Vasvári, and "The Media and Imre Kertész's Nobel Prize in Literature" by Judy Young. In addition to the papers about Kertész's work, the volume includes an as of yet in English unpublished text by Imre Kertész, "Galley Boat-Log (Gályanapló): Excerpt(s)" translated by Tim Wilkinson, a review article about books on Jewish identity and anti-Semitism Central Europe by Barbara Breysach, and a "A Bibliography of Imre Kertész's Oeuvre and Publications about His Work" by Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek.
In the late nineteenth century in Europe and to some extent in the United States, the Jewish upper middle class—particularly the more affluent families—began to enter the cultural spheres of public life, especially in major cities such as Vienna, Berlin, Paris, New York, and London. While many aspects of society were closed to them, theater, the visual arts, music, and art publication were far more inviting, especially if they involved challenging aspects of modernity that might be less attractive to Gentile society. Jews had far less to lose in embracing new forms of expression, and they were very attracted to what was regarded as the universality of cultural expression. Ultimately, these new cultural ideals had an enormous influence on art institutions and artistic manifestations in America and may explain why Jews have been active in the arts in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries to a degree totally out of proportion to their presence in the US population. Jewish cultural activities and aspirations form the focus of the contributions to this volume. Invited authors include senior figures in the field such as Matthew Baigell and Emily Bilski, alongside authors of a younger generation such as Daniel Magilow and Marcie Kaufman. There is also an essay by noted Los Angeles artist and photographer Bill Aron. The guest editor of the volume, Ruth Weisberg, provides an Introduction that places the individual contributions in context.
Jews and humor is, for most people, a natural and felicitous collocation. In spite of, or perhaps because of, a history of crises and living on the edge, Jews have often created or resorted to humor. But what is “humor”? And what makes certain types, instances, or performances of humor “Jewish”? These are among the myriad queries addressed by the fourteen authors whose essays are collected in this volume. And, thankfully, their observations, always apt and often witty, are expressed with a lightness of style and a depth of analysis that are appropriate to the many topics they cover. The chronological range of these essays is vast: from the Hebrew Bible to the 2000s, with many stops in between for Talmudic texts, medieval parodies, eighteenth century joke books, and twentieth century popular entertainment.The subject matter is equally impressive.In addition to rounding up many of the “usual suspects,” such as Woody Allen, the Marx Brothers, and Gilda Radner, these authors also scout out some unlikely comic resources, like the author of the biblical book of Exodus, the rabbinic writer of Genesis Rabbah, and the party records star Belle Barth. Without forcing any of these characters into a pre-constructed mold, the scholars who contributed to this collection allow readers both to discern the common features that make up “Jewish humor” and to delight in the individualism and eccentricities of the many figures whose lives and accomplishments are narrated here. Because these essays are written in a clear, jargon-free style, they will appeal to everyone—even those who don’t usually crack a smile!
For some, the connection between Jews and athletics might seem far-fetched. But in fact, as is highlighted by the fourteen chapters in this collection, Jews have been participating in—and thinking about—sports for more than two thousand years. The articles in this volume scan a wide chronological range: from the Hellenistic period (first century BCE) to the most recent basketball season. The range of athletes covered is equally broad: from participants in Roman-style games to wrestlers, boxers, fencers, baseball players, and basketball stars. The authors of these essays, many of whom actively participate in athletics themselves, raise a number of intriguing questions, such as: What differing attitudes toward sports have Jews exhibited across periods and cultures? Is it possible to be a “good Jew” and a “great athlete”? In what sports have Jews excelled, and why? How have Jews overcome prejudices on the part of the general populace against a Jewish presence on the field or in the ring? In what ways has Jewish participation in sports aided, or failed to aid, the perception of Jews as “good Germans,” “good Hungarians,” “good Americans,” and so forth? This volume, which features a number of illustrations (many of them quite rare), is not only accessible to the general reader, but also contains much information of interest to the scholar in Jewish studies, American studies, and sports history.
This collection of academic essays written by friends and colleagues of Professor Zev Garber, is a long-overdue tribute to an outstanding scholar, teacher, and mentor. Each contribution was written especially for this volume; none have been previously published. The various sections into which these essays are divided reflect the areas in which Professor Garber has devoted his own prodigious teaching and writing energies: the Holocaust, Jewish-Christian relations, philosophy and theology, history, biblical interpretation. Also included is a full bibliography of Professor Garber's own writings: books, articles both scholarly and popular, opinion pieces, and the like. The introduction by his good friend Steven Jacobs introduces Professor Garber to those who do not know him and reminds those who do of his important contributions to scholarship.
Dictionary definitions of the term mishpachah are seemingly straightforward: “A Jewish family or social unit including close and distant relatives—sometimes also close friends.” As accurate as such definitions are, they fail to capture the diversity and vitality of real, flesh-and-blood Jewish families. Families have been part of Jewish life for as long as there have been Jews. It is useful to recall that the family is the basic narrative building block of the stories in the biblical book of Genesis, which can be interpreted in the light of ancient literary traditions, archaeological discoveries, and rabbinic exegesis. Rabbinic literature also is filled with discussions about interactions, rancorous as well as amicable, between parents and among siblings. Sometimes harmony characterizes relations between the parent and the child; as often, alas, there is conflict. The rabbis, always aware of the realities of life, chide and advise as best they can. For the modern period, the changing roles of males and females in society at large have contributed to differing expectations as to their roles within the family. The relative increase in the number of adopted children, from both Jewish and non-Jewish backgrounds, and more recently, the shifting reality of assisted reproductive technologies and the possibility of cloning human embryos, all raise significant moral and theological questions that require serious consideration. Through the studies brought together in this volume, more than a dozen scholars look at the Jewish family in wide variety of social, historical, religious, and geographical contexts. In the process, they explore both diverse and common features in the past and present, and they chart possible courses for Jewish families in the future.
By analyzing its position within the struggles for recognition and reception of different national and ethnic cultural groups, this book offers a bold new picture of Israeli literature. Through comparative discussion of the literatures of Palestinian citizens of Israel, of Mizrahim, of migrants from the former Soviet Union, and of Ethiopian-Israelis, the author demonstrates an unexpected richness and diversity in the Israeli literary scene, a reality very different from the monocultural image that Zionism aspired to create. Drawing on a wide body of social and literary theory, Mendelson-Maoz compares and contrasts the literatures of the four communities she profiles. In her discussion of the literature of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, she presents the question of language and translation, and she provides three case studies of particular authors and their reception. Her study of Mizrahi literature adopts a chronological approach, starting in the 1950s and proceeding toward contemporary Mizrahi writing, while discussing questions of authenticity and self-determination. The discussion of Israeli literature written by immigrants from the former Soviet Union focuses both on authors who write Israeli literature in Russian and of Russian immigrants writing in Hebrew. The final section of the book provides a valuable new discussion of the work of Ethiopian-Israeli writers, a group whose contributions have seldom been previously acknowledged. The picture that emerges from this groundbreaking book replaces the traditional, homogeneous historical narrative of Israeli literature with a diversity of voices, a multiplicity of origins, and a wide range of different perspectives. In doing so, it will provoke researchers in a wide range of cultural fields to look at the rich traditions that underlie it in new and fresh ways.
Between December 1938 and September 1939, nearly ten thousand refugee children from Central Europe, mostly Jewish, found refuge from Nazism in Great Britain. This was known as the Kindertransport movement, in which the children entered as "transmigrants," planning to return to Europe once the Nazis lost power. In practice, most of the kinder, as they called themselves, remained in Britain, eventually becoming citizens. This book charts the history of the Kindertransport movement, focusing on the dynamics that developed between the British government, the child refugee organizations, the Jewish community in Great Britain, the general British population, and the refugee children. After an analysis of the decision to allow the children entry and the machinery of rescue established to facilitate its implementation, the book follows the young refugees from their European homes to their resettlement in Britain either with foster families or in refugee hostels. Evacuated from the cities with hundreds of thousands of British children, they soon found themselves in the countryside with new foster families, who often had no idea how to deal with refugee children barely able to understand English. Members of particular refugee children's groups receive special attention: participants in the Youth Aliyah movement, who immigrated to the United States during the war to reunite with their families; those designated as "Friendly Enemy Aliens" at the war's outbreak, who were later deported to Australia and Canada; and Orthodox refugee children, who faced unique challenges attempting to maintain religious observance when placed with Gentile foster families who at times even attempted to convert them. Based on archival sources and follow-up interviews with refugee children both forty and seventy years after their flight to Britain, this book gives a unique perspective into the political, bureaucratic, and human aspects of the Kindertransport scheme prior to and during World War II.
Dining on Leviathan. Discoursing with Socrates. Debating the nature of existence in the afterlife. These are among the topics authors address in this wide-ranging account of how Jews have conceptualized the world to come and structured their lives in this world accordingly. Some authorities portrayed the afterlife as an endless round of feasting and drinking of chazerie that would put the fanciest Las Vegas buffets to shame. There were visionaries who mapped out otherworldly climes populated by monstrous creatures. Others, decidedly more staid, saw the world to come as a location where neither food nor wine would be consumed; instead, it would offer the opportunity to bring moral certitude to questionable practices that could not be eradicated in this world. More down to earth are comparisons between Rabbi Akiva and Socrates, and analyses of influential thinkers like Moses Mendelssohn and Emmanuel Levinas. And more practical are discussions of how concepts of the afterlife serve to determine mourning practices, or more broadly, how humans should fashion their lives in the here and now. The chronological range of these chapters also is impressive. The earliest documents discussed are from Apocryphal literature, including apocalypses, that were composed from 400 BCE to 200 CE. There are creative analyses of rabbinic material and documents from the medieval period through the twentieth century. Evolving ritual and liturgical practices bring readers up to the early twenty-first century. Each of the thirteen authors whose works are brought together in this volume shows historical, cultural, and religious sensitivity both to the unique features of these differing manifestations and to the elements that unite them. For the readers of this volume, which is equally rewarding for general audiences and for specialists, the result is a carefully nuanced, creatively balanced exploration of the breadth of Jewish thought and practice concerning some of the most profound and perplexing issues humans face.
Symbolized by a three-hundred-year-old Seder plate, the religious life of Fred Behrend’s family had centered largely around Passover and the tale of the Jewish people’s exodus from tyranny. When the Nazis came to power, the wide-eyed boy and his family found themselves living a twentieth-century version of that exodus, escaping oppression and persecution in Germany for Cuba and ultimately a life of freedom and happiness in the United States. Behrend’s childhood came to a crashing end with Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass) and his father’s harrowing internment at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. But he would not be defined by these harrowing circumstances. Behrend would go on to experience brushes with history involving the defeated Germans. By the age of twenty, he had run a POW camp full of Nazis, been an instructor in a program aimed at denazifying specially selected prisoners, and been assigned by the U.S. Army to watch over Wernher von Braun, the designer of the V-2 rocket that terrorized Europe and later chief architect of the Saturn V rocket that sent Americans to the moon. Behrend went from a sheltered life of wealth in a long-gone, old-world Germany, dwelling in the gilded compound once belonging to the manufacturer of the zeppelin airships, to a poor Jewish immigrant in New York City learning English from Humphrey Bogart films. Upon returning from service in the U.S. Army, he rose out of poverty, built a successful business in Manhattan, and returned to visit Germany a dozen times, giving him unique perspective into Germany’s attempts to surmount its Nazi past.
Scholars tend to call them “rites of passage.” Most people prefer to speak of them as life-cycle events or milestones. Jews like to speak of simchas, when there is something (a birth, Bar or Bat Mitzvah, or a wedding) to celebrate. These are key moments for individuals and for the families and communities of which they are a part. This volume offers new insights into rituals as old as the Hebrew Bible and as recent as the twenty-first century, in contexts as familiar as the American Midwest and as exotic as Karaism. It examines and frequently affirms some of the rituals that have traditionally been associated with these events, while inviting readers to cast a critical eye on the ways in which these customs have developed in recent years. The authors, who include congregational leaders as well as scholars, also affirm the need to expand or enhance existing ceremonies to include groups whose needs have not traditionally been addressed. They show how rites of passage may be viewed as both conservative and dynamic—connecting us with generations past as well as with our contemporaries.
Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews in America includes academics, artists, writers, and civic and religious leaders who contributed chapters focusing on the Sephardi and Mizrahi experience in America. Topics will address language, literature, art, Diaspora identity, and civic and political engagement. When discussing identity in America, one contributor will review and explore the distinct philosophy and culture of classic Sephardic Judaism, and how that philosophy and culture represents a viable option for American Jews who seek a rich and meaningful medium through which to balance Jewish tradition and modernity. Another chapter will provide a historical perspective of Sephardi/Ashkenazi Diasporic tensions. Additionally, contributors will address the term “Sephardi” as a self-imposed, collective, “ethnic” designation that had to be learned and naturalized—and its parameters defined and negotiated—in the new context of the United States and in conversation with discussions about Sephardic identity across the globe. This volume also will look at the theme of literature, focusing on Egyptian and Iranian writers in the United States. Continuing with the Iranian Jewish community, contributors will discuss the historical and social genesis of Iranian-American Jewish participation and leadership in American civic, political, and Jewish affairs. Another chapter reviews how art is used to express Iranian Diaspora identity and nostalgia. The significance of language among Sephardi and Mizrahi communities is discussed. One chapter looks at the Ladino-speaking Sephardic Jewish population of Seattle, while another confronts the experience of Judeo-Spanish speakers in the United States and how they negotiate identity via the use of language. In addition, scholars will explore how Judeo-Spanish speakers engage in dialogue with one another from a century ago, and furthermore, how they use and modify their language when they find themselves in Spanish-speaking areas today.
Studies in American Jewish Literature (SAJL), the official journal of the Society for the Study of American Jewish Literature, publishes peer reviewed scholarly articles, book reviews, occasional poetry, and short stories dealing with aspects of the Jewish experience in literature.
“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are,” wrote the eighteenth-century French politician and musician Jean Brillat-Savarin, giving expression to long held assumptions about the role of food, taste, and eating in the construction of cultural identities. Foodways—the cultural, religious, social, economic, and political practices related to food consumption and production—unpack and reveal the meaning of what we eat, our tastes. They explain not just our flavor profiles, but our senses of refinement and judgment. They also reveal quite a bit about the history and culture of how food operates and performs in society. Jewish food practices and products expose and explain how different groups within American society think about what it means to be Jewish and the values (as well as the prejudices) people have about what “Jewish” means. Food—what one eats, how one eats it, when one eats it—is a fascinating entryway into identity; for Jews, it is at once a source of great nostalgia and pride, and the central means by which acculturation and adaptation takes place. In chapters that trace the importance and influence of the triad of bagels, lox, and cream cheese, southern kosher hot barbecue, Jewish vegetarianism, American recipes in Jewish advice columns, the draw of eating treyf (nonkosher), and the geography of Jewish food identities, this volume explores American Jewish foodways, predilections, desires, and presumptions.
This volume of the Casden Institute's The Jewish Role in American Life annual series introduces new scholarship on the long-standing relationship between Jewish-Americans and the worlds of American popular music. Edited by scholar and critic Josh Kun, the essays in the volume blend single-artist investigations with looks at the industry of music making as a whole. They range from Jewish sheet music to the risqué musical comedy of Belle Barth and Pearl Williams, from the role of music in the shaping of Henry Ford's anti-Semitism to Bob Dylan's Jewishness, from the hybridity of the contemporary "Radical Jewish Culture" scene to the Yiddish experiments of 1930s African-American artists. Contents: Foreword (Gayle Wald); Introduction (Josh Kun); "Cohen Owes Me Ninety-Seven Dollars, and other Tales from the Jewish Sheet- Music Trade" (Jody Rosen); “'Dances Partake of the Racial Characteristics of the People Who Dance Them' : Nordicism, Antisemitism, and Henry Ford’s Old Time Music and Dance Revival" (Peter La Chapelle); “Ovoutie Slanguage is Absolutely Kosher: Yiddish in Scat- Singing, Jazz Jargon, and Black Music” (Jonathan Z. S. Pollack); "'If I Embarrass You, Tell Your Friends' : Belle Barth, Pearl Williams, and the Space of the Risque" (Josh Kun); "'Here’s a foreign song I learned in Utah' : The Anxiety of Jewish Influence in the Music of Bob Dylan" (David Kaufman); "Jazz Liturgy, Yiddishe Blues, Cantorial Death Metal, and Free Klez: Musical Hybridity in Radical Jewish Culture" (Jeff Janeczco).