Cover

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pp. Cover-Cover

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

The germ idea of this study was planted by my teachers Harry Blumberg and Milton Arfa, who in the course of introducing me to the greats of modern Hebrew literature would comment on the relative paucity of study of the contributions made by America’s Hebraists to the field.It later took more concrete shape in my readings of the contributions ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-12

This is not a history of Hebrew literature in America. Instead it relates a fascinating chapter of that literature’s preoccupation with America’s indigenous minorities, African Americans and Native Americans. The uniqueness of this interest stems from the fact that at no time in the annals of Hebrew literature and in any land of the Jewish Diaspora have writers ...

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1. Encountering Native Americans

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pp. 13-30

With the arrival of the masses of Jewish immigrants at America’s shores came also a number with an inclination or educational background to form a small nucleus of Hebraists intent on forming a new literary center. The leading figure of the early years was Benjamin N. Silkiner (1882–1933). He not only had a deep immersion in traditional textual studies, but ...

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2. Facing the Sunset: Israel Efros on Native Americans

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pp. 31-48

In a preface in the manuscript of Silent Wigwams (Vigvamim shotkim), Israel Efros’s premiere composition about Native Americans—currently in the possession of his daughter, Ghela (Efros) Scharfstein—the poet has In 1928 fate robbed me of two dear souls one after the other, souls that I fled from the place of my double calamity to a distant and cold city. ...

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3. To Be as Others: E. E. Lisitzky’s Representation of Native Americans

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pp. 49-76

American Hebrew literature, the poetry and prose fiction composed almost exclusively by immigrants, is a tapestry of forms, trends, and genres. It is a testimony documenting early responses of the encounter between Hebraists and the New World. In terms of literary forms and styles, this literature runs the gamut of Hebrew belles lettres, ranging from the ...

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4. Fantasy or Plain Folk: Imagining Native Americans

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pp. 77-90

Ever since Silkiner’s long poem, Hebrew literature has continued to struggle with the tendency to stereotype Native Americans. The seeming dearth of intimate familiarity and social contact between Jews and Native Americans underlies part of the reason. Representations of First Nations in American Hebrew letters tend to rely heavily on a range of popular ...

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5. Child’s Play: Hillel Bavli’s “Mrs . Woods” and the Indian in American Hebrew Literature

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pp. 91-108

Americans are cognizant of allusions to Indians in their culture. Many use, and some are even familiar with, a few loan words from Indian languages in English. Bearing references to Native Americans are sports teams, train lines, and place names. For these, no actual Indians need be present. The impression left in the minds of some is that Native ...

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6. Red Heart, Black Skin: E. E. Lisitzky’s Encounters with African American Folksong and Poetry

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pp. 109-136

The African American population in the United States represented the most immediate indigenous minority with whom Jews had contact upon arriving in the New World. Moving into large cities, they witnessed the concomitant migration wave of Blacks out of the rural South, cresting in the years after the First World War. Many African Americans settled into ...

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7. From Prop to Trope to Real Folks: Blacks in Hebrew Literature

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pp. 137-151

While the traditional attraction of Jews to Black issues was universalistic in tendency, based on comprehensive social outlook, that of Blacks to Jews was originally particularistic, having to do with As sound as Heyd’s observation may be about the representation of Blacks by Jews in painting or sculpture, the issue is more complex in belles let-...

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8. Representing African Americans: The Realistic Trend

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pp. 152-174

The realistic representation of African Americans is embedded primarily in prose fiction and published contemporaneously with the poetry. This mode is not of a uniform intensity and attention to detail, however. In most cases, references to Blacks are incidental generalizations which omit intimate personal acquaintance, leaving African Americans as a flat back-...

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9. The Language of Alienation: The Anxiety of an Americanized Hebrew

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pp. 175-188

Even before the Czernowitz conference of 1908, when Yiddish was pro-claimed by some as the Jewish national language, the preference by others for Hebrew distinguished them ideologically from the former. Supporters of the Zionist platform were also adherents of Hebrew and wedded it with the Jews’ national and political aspirations. Opponents of Zionism, who ...

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10. Singing the Song of Zion: American Hebrew Literature and Israel

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pp. 189-221

Literary representations of the encounter between Jews and America are inevitably portrayed in archetypal, if not cosmic, terms, much like when American Hebrew literature comes into contact with Eretz Israel. In each instance, it is as if authors were cognizant of the significance of the change from their European experience. To mark the encounter between Jews ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 222-226

Glancing back from the vantage point of the twenty-first century at what transpired in American Hebrew letters, we witness a chapter that has now reached its conclusion. Circumstances within and beyond the pale of Jewish society have coalesced to efface any prospects for a lasting imprint of Hebrew culture’s flowering in America. Of all the Hebrew literary talent ...

Notes

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pp. 227-290

Bibliography

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pp. 291-338

Index

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pp. 339-351