Jewish Studies

In May 1938, Hungary passed anti-Semitic laws causing hundreds of Jewish artists to lose their jobs. In response, Budapest’s Jewish community leaders organized an Artistic Enterprise under the aegis of OMIKE Országos Magyar Izraelita Közművelődési Egyesület (Hungarian Jewish Education Association) to provide employment and livelihood for actors, singers, musicians, conductors, composers, writers, playwrights, painters, graphic artists, and sculptors.   Between 1939 and 1944, activities were centered in Goldmark Hall beside the Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest. Hundreds of artists from all over Hungary took part in about one thousand performances, including plays, concerts, cabaret, ballet, operas, and operettas. These performances appealed to the highly cultured Budapest Jewish community, ever desirous of high-caliber events, particularly under oppressive conditions of the time. Art exhibitions also were held for painters, graphic artists, and sculptors to sell their creations.   Lévai’s 1943 book (with new, additional chapters by noted historians and musicians) is the core of this expanded edition and provides interviews with individual artists who recall their early lives and circumstances that led them to join the Artistic Enterprise. The book records the technical functioning, structure, and operation of this remarkable theater and concert venue. It provides fascinating details about those who worked behind the scenes: répétiteurs, hair stylists, and personnel involved with costumes, lighting, and scenery. Because the stage was small, clever choreographic and scenery improvisation had to be made, and the stagehands were clearly up to the task. Since these artists were not allowed to perform before the general public or advertise with posters on the streets, the book describes special means devised to overcome these difficulties and bring Jewish audiences into the theater in large numbers.   Lastly, the book carries the theater’s story up to Sunday morning, March 19, 1944, a day of infamy, when the German army marched into Hungary.  
Bernard Goldstein’s memoir describes a hard world of taverns, toughs, thieves, and prostitutes; of slaughterhouse workers, handcart porters, and wagon drivers; and of fist- and gunfights with everyone from anti-Semites and Communists to hostile police, which is to say that it depicts a totally different view of life in prewar Poland than the one usually portrayed. As such, the book offers a corrective view in the form of social history, one that commands attention and demands respect for the vitality and activism of the generation of Polish Jews so brutally annihilated by the barbarism of the Nazis.   In Warsaw, a city with over 300,000 Jews (one third of the population), Goldstein was the Jewish Labor Bund’s “enforcer,” organizer, and head of their militia—the one who carried out daily, on-the-street organization of unions; the fighting off of Communists, Polish anti-Semitic hooligans, and antagonistic police; marshaling and protecting demonstrations; and even settling family disputes, some of them arising from the new secular, socialist culture being fostered by the Bund.   Goldstein’s is a portrait of tough Jews willing to do battle—worldly, modern individuals dedicated to their folk culture and the survival of their people. It delivers an unparalleled street-level view of vibrant Jewish life in Poland between the wars: of Jewish masses entering modern life, of Jewish workers fighting for their rights, of optimism, of greater assertiveness and self-confidence, of armed combat, and even of scenes depicting the seamy, semi-criminal elements. It provides a representation of life in Poland before the great catastrophe of World War II, a life of flowering literary activity, secular political journalism, successful political struggle, immersion in modern politics, fights for worker rights and benefits, a strong social-democratic labor movement, creation of a secular school system in Yiddish, and a youth movement that later provided the heroic fighters for the courageous Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.    
Economic inequity is an issue of worldwide concern in the twenty-first century. Although these issues have not troubled all people at all times, they are nonetheless not new. Thus, it is not surprising that Judaism has developed many perspectives, theoretical and practical, to explain and ameliorate the circumstances that produce serious economic disparity. This volume offers an accessible collection of articles that deal comprehensively with this phenomenon from a variety of approaches and perspectives.   Within this framework, the fourteen authors who contributed to Wealth and Poverty in Jewish Tradition bring a formidable array of experience and insight to uncover interconnected threads of conversation and activities that characterize Jewish thought and action. Among the questions raised, for which there are frequently multiple responses: Is the giving of tzedakah (generally, although imprecisely, translated as “charity”) a command or an impulse? Does the Jewish tradition give priority to the donor or to the recipient? To what degree is charity a communal responsibility? Is there something inherently ennobling or, conversely, debasing about being poor? How have basic concepts about wealth and poverty evolved from biblical through rabbinic and medieval sources until the modern period? What are some specific historical events that demonstrate either marked success or bitter failure? And finally, are there some relevant concepts and practices that are distinctively, if not uniquely, Jewish?   It is a singular strength of this collection that appropriate attention is given, in a style that is both accessible and authoritative, to the vast and multiform conversations that are recorded in the Talmud and other foundational documents of rabbinic Judaism. Moreover, perceptive analysis is not limited to the past, but also helps us to comprehend circumstances among today’s Jews. It is equally valuable that these authors are attuned to the differences between aspirations and the realities in which actual people have lived.
Jewish identity is a perennial concern, as Jews seek to define the major features and categories of those who “belong,” while at the same time draw distinctions between individuals and groups on the “inside” and those on the “outside.” From a variety of perspectives, scholarly as well as confessional, there is intense interest among non-Jewish and Jewish commentators alike in the basic question, “Who is a Jew?”   This collection of articles draws diverse historical, cultural, and religious insights from scholars who represent a wide range of academic and theological disciplines. Some of the authors directly address the issue of Jewish identity as it is being played out today in Israel and Diaspora communities. Others look to earlier time periods or societies as invaluable resources for enhanced and deepened analysis of contemporary matters.   All authors in this collection make a concerted effort to present their evidence and their conclusions in a way that is accessible to the general public and valid for other scholars. The result is a richly textured approach to a topic that seems always relevant. If no single answer appeals to all of the authors, this is as it should be. We all gain from the application of a number of approaches and perspectives, which enrich our appreciation of the people whose lives are affected, for better or worse, by real-life discussions of this issue and the resultant actions toward exclusivity or inclusivity.    
Established as a Jewish settlement in 1909 and dedicated a year later, Tel Aviv has grown over the last century to become Israel’s financial center and the country’s second largest city. This book examines a major period in the city’s establishment when Jewish architects moved from Europe, including Alexander Levy of Berlin, and attempted to establish a new style of Zionist urbanism in the years after World War I.   The author explores the interplay of an ambitious architectural program and the pragmatic needs that drove its chaotic implementation during a period of dramatic population growth. He explores the intense debate among the Zionist leaders in Berlin in regard to future Jewish settlement in the land of Israel after World War I, and the difficulty in imposing a town plan and architectural style based on European concepts in an environment where they clashed with desires for Jewish revival and self-identity. While “modern” values advocated universality, Zionist ideas struggled with the conflict between the concept of “New Order” and traditional and historical motifs.   As well as being the first detailed study of the formative period in Tel Aviv’s development, this book presents a valuable case study in nation-building and the history of Zionism. Meticulously researched, it is also illustrated with hundreds of plans and photographs that show how much of the fabric of early twentieth century Tel Aviv persists in the modern city.  
There are two aspects of this volume that merit special notice. First, the aim of the collection of essays and studies in this volume is intended to stress the cultural aspects of the Jewish experience of coming up to and living in the Golden State. Second, while this volume looks at the Jewish experience in California in general - nonetheless, particular emphasis is placed on Southern California, where the Casden Institute is situated. Contents: Isaias Hellman and the Creation of California (Frances Dinkelspiel); A Twice-Told Journey: Sarah Newmark in the Russian Polish Shtetl: How a Jewish California Matron Confronted Her European Heritage (Karen S. Wilson ); Postscript: The Western States Jewish History Archives (Gladys Sturman and David Epstein); From Civic Defense to Civil Rights: The Growth of Jewish American Interracial Civil Rights Activism in Los Angeles (Shana Bernstein); The Third Temple: Iranian Jews and the Blessings of Exile - A personal Memoir (Gina Nahai); Jewish Homegrown History: In the Golden State and Beyond (Marsha Kinder).
A Knight at the Opera examines the remarkable and unknown role that the medieval legend (and Wagner opera) Tannhäuser played in Jewish cultural life in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The book analyzes how three of the greatest Jewish thinkers of that era, Heinrich Heine, Theodor Herzl, and I. L. Peretz, used this central myth of Germany to strengthen Jewish culture and to attack anti-Semitism. In the original medieval myth, a Christian knight lives in sin with the seductive pagan goddess Venus in the Venusberg. He escapes her clutches and makes his way to Rome to seek absolution from the Pope. The Pope does not pardon Tannhäuser and he returns to the Venusberg. During the course of A Knight at the Opera, readers will see how Tannhäuser evolves from a medieval knight, to Heine’s German scoundrel in early modern Europe, to Wagner’s idealized German male, and finally to Peretz’s pious Jewish scholar in the Land of Israel. Venus herself also undergoes major changes from a pagan goddess, to a lusty housewife, to an overbearing Jewish mother. The book also discusses how the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, was so inspired by Wagner’s opera that he wrote The Jewish State while attending performances of it, and he even had the Second Zionist Congress open to the music of Tannhäuser’s overture. A Knight at the Opera uses Tannhäuser as a way to examine the changing relationship between Jews and the broader world during the advent of the modern era, and to question if any art, even that of a prominent anti-Semite, should be considered taboo.
This is the story of a remarkable life and a journey, from the privileged world of Prussian aristocracy, through the horrors of World War II, to high society in the television age of postwar America. It is also an account of a spiritual voyage, from a conventional Christian upbringing, through marriage to Pastor Martin Niemoeller, to conversion to Judaism.Born during the turbulent days of the Weimar Republic, the author was the goddaughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II (to whom her father was financial advisor). During her teenage years, she witnessed the rise of the Third Reich and her family’s resistance to it, culminating in their involvement in “Operation Valkyrie,” the ill-fated attempt to assassinate Hitler and form a new government. At war’s end, she worked with British Intelligence to uncover Nazis leaders. Keeping a promise to her father, she left Germany for a new life in the United States in the 1950s, working for NBC and raising her son in the exciting world of New York, only to return to Germany as the wife of Martin Niemoeller, the voice of religious resistance during the Third Reich and of German guilt and conscience in the postwar decades. Upon her husband's death in 1984 she returned to America, after having converted to Judaism in London, and turned yet another page by becoming an active public speaker and author. The title reflects a story of three parts: “Crowns,” the world of nobility in which the author was raised; “Crosses,” her life with Martin Niemoeller and his battles with the Third Reich; and “Stars,” the spiritual journey that brought her to Judaism.
There is no question that the Passion is the most controversial Jesus-if not religious-movieever made. The articles...are an attempt by academics to explain why. Five essays were presentedin an earlier version at the Jewish Studies Symposium on key issues raised by The Passion of the Christ held at Purdue University on March 30, 2004 (Garber, Mork, Pawlikowski, Robertson, Young); and 15 essays (Bartchy, Edelheit, Edelman, Feldman, Golan, Greenberg, Haas, Holdredge, Jacobs, Libowitz, Moore, Neusner, Wheeler, Zuckerman) complement the Purdue Symposium. The contributors reflect on a plethora of issues, and they show that concerned andinformed Jews and Christians together can assess dis/misinformation, monitor dissent, alleviate community fears, and reassure that the solid rock of Jewish-Catholic-Protestant dialogue, though assailed, has not become chipped. The passion over the "Passion" has proven to be a blessing, not a curse. Indeed, seize the teaching moment and develop the agenda. The respect of two ancient faith-communities demands and deserves this.
This fascinating autobiography is set against the backdrop of some of the most dramatic episodes of the twentieth century. It is the story of a stubborn struggle against unjust regimes, sustained by a deep belief in the strength of the human spirit and the transcendental power of music. It is also an account of a rich spiritual life, during which the author has built upon her Jewish roots through the study of Eastern philosophy and meditation. Born in Germany, Eva Mayer Schay's early childhood in Mallorca was an idyllic one. Her parents had emigrated to the island following the Nazi party's rise to power, but in 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, the family was repatriated to Germany. Her father was arrested and given the choice of concentration camp or departing for Italy. They managed to leave Mussolini's Italy for South Africa before the race laws were implemented.During World War II, Mayer Schay's parents were classed as "enemy aliens" in South Africa, which led to considerable hardship. Her father died in 1945, after the end of the war. She went through all her schooling and university in Johannesburg, continued her musical studies in London, and after returning to Johannesburg, taught violin, played chamber music, and became a member of the SABC Symphony Orchestra. Defying apartheid, she was fired, later reinstated, but left Johannesburg to play with the Durban Civic Orchestra in 1959. Appalled at the increasing harshness of the nationalist government and by the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, she and her mother finally emigrated to England in 1961.In London, Mayer Schay worked as freelance violinist and was married in 1967. In September 1968, she joined the orchestra of Sadler's Wells Opera at the Coliseum Theatre, later renamed English National Opera, where she remained for almost thirty years.
A compilation of Irving Howe’s interviews during the last fifteen years of his life, this book represents what could be viewed as the sequel to Howe’s intellectual autobiography, A Margin of Hope, which took the story of his life only up to the late 1970s. Many of these interviews were never published and have existed only as personal tapes in the hands of such scholars and activists as Todd Gitlin and Maurice Isserman. Others were originally published in such venues as The New York Times, The Jerusalem Post, and the PBS documentary Arguing the World. Howe never organized his thoughts about the last fifteen years of his life, during which he gained renown for World of Our Fathers, received a MacArthur Fellowship, and became widely regarded as the leading left-liberal intellectual in the U.S. and, arguably, the leading literary critic in America following the deaths of Lionel Trilling and Edmund Wilson. During this time, Howe also struggled to redefine the American Left in an environment that discounted and marginalized it. Indeed, these interviews may have particular significance today, a period of new opportunities for the liberal Left, yet one in which it struggles to construct some coherent identity and compelling program. The editors worked with the full cooperation of Howe’s family. His daughter, Nina, contributed an afterword and provided a number of illustrations and photos that have never before appeared in print.
Separate chapters deal with narrative techniques in gnostic literature, the reception of Luke's Gospel throughout the ages, and the author's own highly sensitive reading of Luke's Gospel. He shows how gnostic enlightenment functions in the development of Jesus as a character as well as in his own teaching technique toward his disciples. Wojcik demonstrates how the implied author of Luke's Gospel uses these same techniques to withhold information and foster insight in the reader. The final chapter isolates the essential differences between canonical and non-canonical biblical scholarship and contains an impassioned argument for the value of scholarly analysis of the Bible from a literary standpoint.
Scholar, teacher, playwright, and editor, Sarah Blacher Cohen was one of the earliest champions of the study of American Jewish literature, a field of academic study that has been in existence for barely thirty-five years. Over the years until her premature death in 2008, she contributed to the discipline in a profusion of genres, from scholarly to popular, from essay to drama, writing or editing seven books of her own. She also wrote and produced several plays with her longtime collaborator, Joanne B. Koch. This special volume (29) of the annual, Studies in American Jewish Literature (ISSN 0271-9274), the journal edited by Daniel Walden, contains a range of tributes from her many friends and colleagues.
There is a general understanding within religious and academic circles that the incarnate Christ of Christian belief lived and died a faithful Jew. This volume addresses Jesus in the context of Judaism. By emphasizing his Jewishness, the authors challenge today’s Jews to reclaim the Nazarene as a proto-rebel rabbi and invite Christians to discover or rediscover the Church’s Jewish heritage. The essays in this volume cover historical, literary, liturgical, philosophical, religious, theological, and contemporary issues related to the Jewish Jesus. Several of them were originally presented at a three-day symposium on “Jesus in the Context of Judaism and the Challenge to the Church,” hosted by the Samuel Rosenthal Center for Judaic Studies at Case Western Reserve University in 2009. In the context of pluralism, in the temper of growing interreligious dialogue, and in the spirit of reconciliation, encountering Jesus as living history for Christians and Jews is both necessary and proper. This book will be of particular interest to scholars of the New Testament and Early Church who are seeking new ways of understanding Jesus in his religious and cultural milieu, as well Jewish and Christian theologians and thinkers who are concerned with contemporary Jewish and Christian relationships.
This book begins with a brief history about the Jews in Babylon (Iraq), their Hebrew creativity and the fact that this creativity was excluded from the history of Modern Hebrew literature because it was unknown to the scholars. The book focuses on the years 1735-1950 and presents the secular Hebrew poetry written in Babylon at that time, the folktales, journalistic articles, and epistles, research of Hebrew literature, a story and a play. The last part presents the Hebrew periodicals that were published in Babylon.
The contributions to this volume consider topics such as the immigrant experience in coming to America after the trauma of the Holocaust; how the Shoah has shaped more recent interpretation of the Hebrew Bible; the role that survivors have fulfilled in educating American youth not only about the Holocaust itself, but also about how values - especially in regard to tolerance - can and must be shaped by eye-witness testimony on the Shoah; the impact of Holocaust in film, especially in "third-generation" cinema; the issues and difficulties of presenting the Shoah in children's literature; the dialogue between Christians and Jews, especially in America, and how that dialogue has been constructively influenced and shaped by the Holocaust; the way in which Jewish business activities have altered in the post-World War II environment and in the aftermath of the Holocaust and how the lessons of the Shoah have facilitated the change from nationalist to global economy; how the image and awareness of the Holocaust developed in the American media. For all the range that these articles encompass, throughout them all runs a common theme: that the Holocaust has indelibly marked almost every aspect of American culture. We cannot think of America, American ideals and values, America's role in the world today and the future of America in an increasingly dangerous world, without recognizing that the Shoah casts a long shadow across all these concerns and serves as one of the primary points of horrific historical reference by which we, as Americans, must measure ourselves.
Philippe Codde provides a comparative cultural analysis of the unprecedented success of the Jewish novel in the postwar United States by situating the process and event in the context of three closely-related American cultural movements: the popularity in the US of French philosophical and literary existentialism, the increasing visibility of the Holocaust in US-American life, and the advent of radical theology. Codde argues that the literary repertoire of the postwar Jewish novel consists of an amalgam of these cultural elements that were making their mark in the political, religious, and philosophical systems of the United States at the time, and that this explains, in part, the Jewish novel’s sweeping success in the American literary system.
The relationship between Jews and the United States is necessarily complex: Jews have been instrumental in shaping American culture and, of course, Jewish culture and religion have likewise been profoundly recast in the United States, especially in the period following World War II. A major focus of this work is to consider the Jewish role in American life as well as the American role in shaping Jewish life. This fifth volume of the Casden Institute's annual review is organized along five broad themes-politics, values, image, education and culture. Contents: The Politicization of Hollywood before World War II: Anti-Fascism, Anti-Communism, and Anti-Semitism (Steven J. Ross); 'Farther Away from New York': Jews in the Humanities after World War II (Andrew R. Heinze); How to Reach 71 in Jewish Art (R. B. Kitaj); R. B. Kitaj and the State of "Jew-on-the-Brain" (David N. Myers); Summer Camp, Postwar American Jewish Youth and the Redemption of Judaism (Riv-Ellen Prell); Faultlines: The Seven Socio-Ecologies of Jewish Los Angeles (Bruce A. Phillips).
The Memory Factory introduces an English-speaking public to the significant women artists of Vienna at the turn of the twentieth century, each chosen for her aesthetic innovations and participation in public exhibitions. These women played important public roles as exhibiting artists, both individually and in collectives, but this history has been silenced over time. Their stories show that the city of Vienna was contradictory and cosmopolitan: despite men-only policies in its main art institutions, it offered a myriad of unexpected ways for women artists to forge successful public careers. Women artists came from the provinces, Russia, and Germany to participate in its vibrant art scene. However, and especially because so many of the artists were Jewish, their contributions were actively obscured beginning in the late 1930s. Many had to flee Austria, losing their studios and lifework in the process. Some were killed in concentration camps.   Along with the stories of individual women artists, the author reconstructs the history of separate women artists’ associations and their exhibitions. Chapters covering the careers of Tina Blau, Elena Luksch-Makowsky, Bronica Koller, Helene Funke, and Teresa Ries (among others) point to a more integrated and cosmopolitan art world than previously thought; one where women became part of the avant-garde, accepted and even highlighted in major exhibitions at the Secession and with the Klimt group.   “This is an excellent addition to the literature on fin-de-sicle Vienna, well-researched and well-argued. It highlights little-known artists and situates them in a novel interpretation of women’s roles in the art world. The author challenges dominant tropes of feminist historiography and thus sheds new light on twentieth-century art history and historiography.” —Michael Gubser,  James Madison University
New York Public Intellectuals and Beyond gathers a variety of distinguished scholars, from Eugene Goodheart to Peter Novick to Nathan Glazer, from Morris Dickstein to Suzanne Klingenstein to Ilan Stavans, to revisit and rethink the legacy of the New York intellectuals. The authors show how a small New York group, predominantly Jewish, moved from communist and socialist roots to become a primary voice of liberal humanism and, in the case of a few, to launch a new conservative movement. Concentrating on Lionel Trilling as the paradigmatic liberal intellectual, the book also includes thoughtful reconsiderations of Irving Howe and Dwight MacDonald, and explores the roots of the neoconservative movement and its changing role today.
Focusing on a diversely rich selection of writers, the pieces featured in Unfinalized Moments: Essays in the Development of Contemporary Jewish American Narrative explore the community of Jewish American writers who published their first book after the mid-1980s. It is the first book-length collection of essays on this subject matter with contributions from the leading scholars in the field. The manuscript does not attempt to foreground any one critical agenda, such as Holocaust writing, engagements with Zionism, feminist studies, postmodern influences, or multiculturalism. Instead, it celebrates the presence of a newly robust, diverse, and ever-evolving body of Jewish American fiction. This literature has taken a variety of forms with its negotiations of orthodoxy, its representations of a post-Holocaust world, its reassertion of folkloric tradition, its engagements with postmodernity, its reevaluations of Jewishness, and its alternative delineations of ethnic identity. Discussing the work of authors such as Allegra Goodman, Michael Chabon, Tova Mirvis, Rebecca Goldstein, Pearl Abraham, Jonathan Rosen, Nathan Englander, Melvin Jules Bukiet, Tova Reich, Sarah Schulman, Ruth Knafo Setton, Ben Katchor, and Jonathan Safran Foer, the fifteen contributors in this collection assert the ongoing vitality and ever-growing relevancy of Jewish American fiction.