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As a young boy growing up in Port Elizabeth in the 1960s and 1970s, Steven Robins was haunted by an old postcard-size photograph of three unknown women on a table in the dining room. Only later did he learn that the women were his father’s mother and sisters, photographed in Berlin in 1937, before they were killed in the Holocaust. Steven’s father, who had fled Nazi Germany before it was too late, never spoke about the fate of his family who remained there. Steven became obsessed with finding out what happened to the women, but had little to go on. In time he stumbled on bare facts in museums in Washington DC and Berlin, and later he discovered over a hundred letters sent to his father and uncle from the family in Berlin between 1936 and 1943. The women who before had been unnamed faces in a photograph could now tell their story to future generations.
Letters of Stone tracks Steven’s journey of discovery about the lives and fates of the Robinski family. It is also a book about geographical journeys: to the Karoo town of Williston, where his father’s uncle settled in the late nineteenth century and became mayor; to Berlin, where Steven laid ‘stumbling stones’ (Stolpersteine) in commemoration of his family and other Jewish victims of the Holocaust; to Auschwitz, where his father’s siblings perished.
Most of all, this book is a poignant reconstruction of a family trapped in an increasingly terrifying and deadly Nazi state, and of the immense pressure on Steven’s father in faraway South Africa, which forced him to retreat into silence.
The 1930s and 40s were tumultuous decades in South Africa’s history. The economy declined sharply in the wake of the Wall Street crash, giving rise to a huge number of poor whites and the growth of a militant and aggressive Afrikaner nationalism that often took its lead from the Nazis in Germany.
A Perfect Storm reveals how the right-wing’s malevolent message moved from the margins to the centre of political life; how antisemitism seeped into mainstream political life with real and lasting consequences. Milton Shain, South Africa’s leading scholar of modern Jewish history, brings into sharp relief the ‘Jewish Problem’, detailing the rise of influential organisations such as the Grey Shirts and the New Order, which fanned the flames of antisemitism. He devotes considerable attention to the Ossewa-Brandwag, which, by 1941, constituted the largest yet mobilisation of Afrikaners.
The National Party itself contributed to the climate of hostility to Jews. It was instrumental in ensuring that only few of the Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany and elsewhere were permitted as immigrants. The National Party contributed to the prevailing climate of Jew-baiting. Indeed, some of its worst offenders were accorded high office after 1948 when the National Party came to power.
During WW2, a group of Jewish refugees (intellectuals, writers, artists and athletes - most from Germany and Austria) escaped to Britain and were interned as ‘enemy aliens’. In 1942, they were selected and trained to form a special unit of commandoes who would be sent back into Europe to play a significant role in the final battles against the Nazis.
Based on original archival research, interviews and a cache of newly discovered sources, this is a book brimming with camaraderie, heroism and high-octane storytelling, as it tells the dramatic story of the X-Troop men who helped to defeat the Nazis and liberate the concentration camps where their families had either been killed or imprisoned.
Songs of Sonderling is the story of Jacob Sonderling's unique contributions to Jewish liturgical music. Rabbi Sonderling was many things: a descendant of Chassidic rebbes, a rationalist, a Reform rabbi, a Zionist, an army chaplain, a celebrated orator, an artistic soul. From his early career at the Hamburg Temple and German Army service in World War I, to his wandering years in the Eastern United States and founding of the Society for Jewish Culture-Fairfax Temple in Los Angeles, Sonderling cultivated a unique aesthetic vision of Judaism, a "five-sense appeal." Jonathan L. Friedmann and John F. Guest document and analyze Sonderling's experience and expression of Judaism through music. Rabbi Sonderling's vision yielded liturgical commissions from exiled Viennese Jewish composers who arrived in Los Angeles in the 1930s and 1940s. Through these musical settings, activities at the Fairfax Temple, and involvement with the Los Angeles campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Sonderling made an indelible mark on the city's Jewish community and the wider musical world. Songs of Sonderling focuses on the commissions Sonderling made from 1938 to 1945: Ernst Toch's Cantata of the Bitter Herbs, Arnold Schoenberg's Kol Nidre, Erich Wolfgang Korngold's A Passover Psalm and Prayer, and Eric Zeisl's Requiem Ebraico. Through musical analyses and an examination of Sonderling's career in Los Angeles, Friedmann and Guest contribute to the study of Jewish liturgical music, to Jewish history in the American West, to Jewish identity in the twentieth century, and to Jewish diaspora writ large.
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.
A memoir of coming of age and struggling to leave the USSR. Shrayer chronicles the triumphs and humiliations of a Soviet childhood and expresses the dreams and fears of a Jewish family that never gave up its hopes for a better life. Narrated in the tradition of Tolstoy's confessional trilogy and Nabokov's autobiography, this is a searing account of the KGB's persecution of refuseniks, a poet's rebellion against totalitarian culture, and Soviet fantasies of the West during the Cold War.
Before the French Revolution, tens of thousands of foreigners served in France's army. They included troops from not only all parts of Europe but also places as far away as Madagascar, West Africa, and New York City. Beginning in 1789, the French revolutionaries, driven by a new political ideology that placed ""the nation"" at the center of sovereignty, began aggressively purging the army of men they did not consider French, even if those troops supported the new regime. Such efforts proved much more difficult than the revolutionaries anticipated, however, owing to both their need for soldiers as France waged war against much of the rest of Europe and the difficulty of defining nationality cleanly at the dawn of the modern era. Napoleon later faced the same conundrums as he vacillated between policies favoring and rejecting foreigners from his army. It was not until the Bourbon Restoration, when the modern French Foreign Legion appeared, that the French state established an enduring policy on the place of foreigners within its armed forces. By telling the story of France's noncitizen soldiers-who included not only men born abroad but also Jews and blacks whose citizenship rights were subject to contestation-Christopher Tozzi sheds new light on the roots of revolutionary France's inability to integrate its national community despite the inclusionary promise of French republicanism. Drawing on a range of original, unpublished archival sources, Tozzi also highlights the linguistic, religious, cultural, and racial differences that France's experiments with noncitizen soldiers introduced to eighteenth and nineteenth-century French society. Winner of the Walker Cowen Memorial Prize for an Outstanding Work of Scholarship in Eighteenth-Century Studies
Jews in Nazi-occupied Warsaw during the 1940s were under increasing threat as they were stripped of their rights and forced to live in a guarded ghetto away from the non-Jewish Polish population. Within the ghettos, a small but distinct group existed: the assimilated, acculturated, and baptized Jews. Unwilling to integrate into the Jewish community and unable to merge with the Polish one, they formed a group of their own, remaining in a state of suspension throughout the interwar period. In 1940, with the closure of the Jewish Residential Quarter in Warsaw, their identity was chosen for them. Person looks at what it meant for assimilated Jews to leave their pre-war neighbourhoods, understood as both a physical environment and a mixed Polish Jewish community, and enter a new, Jewish one. She reveals the diversity of this group and how its members' identity shaped their involvement in and contribution to ghetto life. In the first English-language study of this small but influential group, Person illuminates the important role of the acculturated and assimilated Jews to the history and memory of the Warsaw ghetto.
In 1987 a young Jewish man, the central figure in this captivating book, leaves Moscow for good with his parents. They celebrate their freedom in opulent Vienna and spend two months in Rome and the coastal resort of Ladispoli. While waiting in Europe for a U.S. refugee visa, the book's twenty-year-old poet quenches his thirst for sexual and cultural discovery. Through his colourful Austrian and Italian misadventures, he experiences the shock, thrill, and anonymity of being in a Western democracy, running into European roadblocks while shedding Soviet social taboos. As he anticipates entering a new life in America, he movingly describes the baggage that exiles bring with them, from the inescapable family ties to the sweet cargo of memory. An emigration story, Waiting for America explores the rapid expansion of identity at the cusp of a new, American life. Told in a revelatory first-person narrative, Waiting for America is also a vibrant love story, in which the romantic protagonist is torn between Russian and Western women. Filled with poignant humor and reinforced by hope and idealism, the author's confessional voice carries the reader in the same way one is carried through literary memoirs like Tolstoy's Childhood, Boyhood, Youth, Hemingway's Moveable Feast, or Nabokov's Speak, Memory. Babel, Sebald, and Singer--all transcultural masters of identity writing -- are the co-ordinates that help to locate Waiting for America on the greater map of literature.
During World War II, with apocalypse imminent, a group of well-known Jewish scientists and artists sidestepped despair by challenging themselves to solve some of the most difficult questions posed by our age. Many had just fled Europe. Others were born in the United States to immigrants who had escaped Russia's pogroms. Alternately celebrated as mavericks and dismissed as eccentrics, they trespassed the boundaries of their own disciplines as the entrance to nations slammed shut behind them. In Stargazing in the Atomic Age, Anne Goldman interweaves personal and intellectual history in exuberant essays that cast new light on these figures and their virtuosic thinking. In lyric, lucent sentences that dance between biography and memoir as they connect innovation in science with achievement in the arts, Goldman yokes the central dramas of the modern age with the brilliant thinking of earlier eras. Here, Einstein plays Mozart to align mathematical principle with the music of the spheres and Rothko paints canvases whose tonalities echo the stark prose of Genesis. Nearby, Bellow evokes the dirt and dazzle of the Chicago streets, while upon the heels of World War II, Chagall illuminates stained glass no less buoyant than the effervescent notes of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. In these essays, Goldman reminds readers that Jewish history offers as many illustrations of accomplishment as of affliction. At the same time, she gestures toward the ways in which experiments in science and art that defy partisanship can offer us inspiration during a newly divisive era.
Few topics in modern history draw the attention that the Holocaust does. The Shoah has become synonymous with unspeakable atrocity and unbearable suffering. Yet it has also been used to teach tolerance, empathy, resistance, and hope. Understanding and Teaching the Holocaust provides a starting point for teachers in many disciplines to illuminate this crucial event in world history for students. Using a vast array of source materials-from literature and film to survivor testimonies and interviews-the contributors demonstrate how to guide students through these sensitive and painful subjects within their specific historical and social contexts. Each chapter provides pedagogical case studies for teaching content such as antisemitism, resistance and rescue, and the postwar lives of displaced persons. It will transform how students learn about the Holocaust and the circumstances surrounding it.
Kosharovsky's authoritative four-volume history of the Jewish movement in the Soviet Union is now available in a condensed and edited volume that makes this compelling insider's account of Soviet Jewish activism after Stalin available to a wider audience. Originally published in Russian from 2008 to 2012, ""We Are Jews Again"" chronicles the struggles of Jews who wanted nothing more than the freedom to learn Hebrew, the ability to provide a Jewish education for their children, and the right to immigrate to Israel. Through dozens of interviews with former refuseniks and famous activists, Kosharovsky provides a vivid and intimate view of the Jewish movement and a detailed account of the persecution many faced from Soviet authorities.
From the 1870s to the 1930s, American cartoonists devoted much of their ink to outlandish caricatures of immigrants and minority groups, making explicit the derogatory stereotypes that circulated at the time. Members of ethnic groups were depicted as fools, connivers, thieves, and individuals hardly fit for American citizenship, but Jews were especially singled out with visual and verbal abuse. In The Implacable Urge to Defame, Baigell examines more than sixty published cartoons from humor magazines such as Judge, Puck and Life and considers the climate of opinion that allowed such cartoons to be published. In doing so, he traces their impact on the emergence of anti-Semitism in the American Scene movement in the 1920s and 1930s.
Jacob Katz presents the developing interrelationship between Jews and their Gentile environment as a whole, from both Jewish and non-Jewish points of view. If the results of the Jewish emancipation process differed from country to country, the forces effecting the changes were identical -- the upheaval of the French Revolution, the loosening of bonds between church and state, and the ideas of the Enlightenment. It was those humanistic ideas that made impossible the Jews' transition from the ghetto to partial inclusion in society at large and that attracted Jewish intellectuals to the "secular knowledge" of languages, mathematics, philosophy, and the wider world beyond their ancient learning.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, ambitious young writers flocked from Jewish towns and villages to cultural centers like Warsaw, Odessa, and Vilna to seek their fortunes. These writers, typically proficient in both Hebrew and Yiddish, gathered in literary salons and cafes to read, declaim, discuss, and ponder the present and future of Jewish culture. However, in the years before and after World War I, writers and readers increasingly immigrated to Western Europe, the Americas, and Palestine, transforming the multilingualism that had defined Jewish literary culture in Eastern Europe. By 1950, Hebrew was ensconced as the language and literature of the young state of Israel, and Yiddish was scattered throughout postwar Jewish communities in Europe and North and South America. Lingering Bilingualism examines these early twentieth-century transformations of Jewish life and culture through the lens of modern Hebrew-Yiddish bilingualism. Exploring a series of encounters between Hebrew and Yiddish writers and texts, Brenner demonstrates how modern Hebrew and Yiddish literatures shifted from an established bilingualism to a dynamic translingualism in response to radical changes in Jewish ideology, geography, and culture. She analyzes how these literatures and their writers, translators, and critics intersected in places like Warsaw, Berlin, Tel Aviv, and New York-and imagined new paradigms for cultural production in Jewish languages. Her aim is neither to idealize the Hebrew-Yiddish bilingualism that once defined East European Jewish culture nor to recount the ""language war"" that challenged it. Rather, Lingering Bilingualism argues that continued Hebrew-Yiddish literary contact has been critical to the development of each literature, cultivating linguistic and literary experimentation and innovation.
From the very moment of the liberation of camps at Auschwitz, Belsen and Buchenwald, Germans have been held accountable for the crimes committed in the Holocaust. The Nazi regime unleashed the most systematic attempt in history to wipe out an entire people, murdering men, women and children for the simple 'crime' of being Jewish. After the war ended in 1945, the Jewish State of Israel was created and Jewish communities were re-established in a now divided Germany. Germans have engaged actively with their Nazi legacy and the Jewish communities have remained and grown stronger, but neo-Nazism has also persisted. Young Germans have learned the horrific deeds of the past at school, and throughout the world, people of all nations have tried to learn the lesson 'never again', while Germany has become 'Israel's best friend in Europe'. Pol O Dochartaigh analyses the ways in which Germans and Jews alike have attempted to come to terms with the Holocaust and its terrible legacy. He also looks at efforts to remember - and to forget - the Holocaust, movement towards recompense and reparation, and the survival of anti-Semitism.
What if the Exodus had never happened? What if the Jews of Spain had not been expelled in 1492? What if Eastern European Jews had never been confined to the Russian Pale of Settlement? What if Adolf Hitler had been assassinated in 1939? What if a Jewish state had been established in Uganda instead of Palestine? Gavriel D. Rosenfeld's pioneering anthology examines how these and other counterfactual questions would have affected the course of Jewish history. Featuring essays by sixteen distinguished scholars in the field of Jewish Studies, What Ifs of Jewish History is the first volume to systematically apply counterfactual reasoning to the Jewish past. Written in a variety of narrative styles, ranging from the analytical to the literary, the essays cover three thousand years of dramatic events and invite readers to indulge their imaginations and explore how the course of Jewish history might have been different.
Dvora Baron (1887-1956) has been called ""the founding mother of Hebrew women's literature."" Born in a small town on the outskirts of Minsk to the community rabbi, Baron immigrated from the Jewish Pale of Settlement to Palestine in 1910. Although she was not the only woman writing in Hebrew in the first few decades of the twentieth century, Baron was the only woman to achieve recognition in the canon of Modern Hebrew fiction during that period. As such, her work reflects both the revolutionary and conservative qualities of the Modern Hebrew Renaissance. Rooted in the Jewish tradition and using the Hebrew language as its battle cry, the Modern Hebrew Renaissance can be said to have distinguished itself from its patriarchal past by fostering a woman's literary emergence. At the same time, the fact that Dvora Baron was the only woman writing in the first decades of the twentieth century who was included into the Renaissance's literary canon indicates the movement's resistance to its own potentially revolutionary nature. Sheila E. Jelen reveals how Baron viewed her own singularity and what this teaches us about the contours of the Modern Hebrew Renaissance - its imperatives and assumptions, its successes and failures. This is the first full-length, English language treatment of Baron's Hebrew corpus. It will be of interest to scholars of literary studies, gender studies, Jewish cultural studies, Jewish literary studies, and Hebrew literary studies.
Leading scholar and author of the celebrated five-volume series, ""The Jewish People in America"", Henry L. Feingold offers a fresh and inspiring look at the Russian/Soviet Jewish emigration phenomenon. Haunted by its sense of failure during the Holocaust, the Soviet Jewry movement set for itself an almost unrealizable goal of finding sanctuary for Jews from a hostile Soviet government. Working together with activists in Israel and Europe, and with a remarkable group of refuseniks that had been denied the right to emigrate, this courageous group mounted a relentless campaign lasting almost three decades. Although Feingold credits Israel with initiating the struggle for Soviet Jewry and fostering it within American Jewry, he maintains that it was the actions of a secure and confident American Jewry that finally delivered the Jews from the Soviet Union. Feingold's mastery of detail and broadness of scope provide a prodigious and sweeping account of the American Jewish movement. He finds early roots of the effort in the American Jewish involvement with Jewish emigration in late Tsarist Russia which bear a startling resemblance to the Kremlin's reaction during the cold war. He highlights both the human dimension of the exodus as well as the complex international ramifications of the movement especially in the Middle East. ""Silent No More"" concludes by pondering the role of the movement's effective public relations campaign, which focused on the human right of freedom of movement in hastening the collapse of the Soviet empire. His rigorous scholarship sheds light on an important, yet rarely told episode in history, one that will enliven further examination of the subject. This book will be of interest to scholars of American Jewish history, the cold war, Israeli studies, and American ethnic and immigration history.
The Jazz Age of the 1920s, centered in New York City, is an era remembered for illegal liquor, innovative music and dance styles, and burgeoning ideas of social equality. It was also the period during which second-generation Jews began to emerge as a significant demographic in the city. ""In Their Own Image"" examines the growing cultural visibility of Jewish life amid this vibrant scene. From the vaudeville routines of Fanny Brice, Eddie Cantor, George Jessel, and Sophie Tucker, to the slew of Broadway comedies about Jewish life - such as the phenomenally popular Abie's ""Irish Rose"" - to the silent films that showed immigrant families struggling to leave the ghetto, images and representations of Jews became staples of inter war popular culture. Through the performing arts, Jews expressed highly ambivalent feelings about their identification with Jewish and American cultures. Ted Merwin shows how they became American by producing and consuming not images of another group, but self-made images of themselves. As a result, they humanized Jewish stereotypes, softened anti-Semitic attitudes, and laid the groundwork for Jewish comedians from Mel Brooks to Billy Crystal. A lively and entertaining look at the role that popular culture can play in promoting the acculturation of an ethnic group, ""In Their Own Image"" both enhances our understanding of American Jewish history and provides a model for the study of other groups and their integration into society.
Born over a fifty-year period, the artists in this volume represent several generations of twentieth-century artists. Examining the work of such influential artists as Mark Rothko, Max Weber, and Ruth Weisberg, Baigell directly confronts their Jewish identity - as a religious, cultural, and psychological component of their lives - and explores the way in which this influence is reflected in their art. Drawing upon their common heritage, Baigell reveals the different ways these artists responded to the Great Immigration, the Depression, the Holocaust, the founding of the state of Israel, and the rise of feminism. Each artist's varied Jewish experiences have contributed to the creation of a visual language and subject matter that reflect both Jewish assimilation and Jewish continuity in ways that inform modern Jewish history and changes in present-day America. Offering a fresh examination of well-known artists, as well as long overdue attention to lesser-known artists, Baigell's incisive observations are indispensable to our understanding of the Jewish themes in these artists' work. Written in a lively and spirited prose, this book is compulsory reading for those interested in modern American art and Jewish studies.
Collected essays by a preeminent authority on American Jewish history.
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