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American Celebrity and Jewish Identity—Sandy Koufax, Lenny Bruce, Bob Dylan, and Barbra Streisand
A lively look at four major Jewish celebrities of early 1960s America, who together made their mark on both American culture and Jewish identity Sandy Koufax, Lenny Bruce, Bob Dylan, and Barbra Streisand first came to public attention in the early 1960s, a period Kaufman identifies as historically ripe for American Jews to reexamine their (Jewish) identities. All four achieved extraordinary success in their respective fields and became celebrities within an American context, while at the same time they were clearly identifiable as Jews—although they were perceived to be Jewish in very different ways. Kaufman investigates these celebrities’ rise to fame, the specific brand of Jewishness each one represented, and how their fans and the public at large perceived their ethnic identity as Jews. Situating Koufax, Bruce, Dylan, and Streisand within the larger history of American Jewish celebrity, Kaufman argues that the four early 1960s figures represent a turning point between celebrity Jews of the past—such as Hank Greenberg, Groucho Marx, Irving Berlin, and Fanny Brice—and those of the present, such as Jon Stewart, Matisyahu, and Natalie Portman. Providing an entry into Jewish celebrity studies, this lively narrative explores the intersection between popular celebrity and Jewish identity and thereby examines the cultural construction of Jewishness in the latter half of the twentieth century.
The Torah's Covenant Affirmed
This engaging book offers the first in-depth analysis of the history, philosophy, and social trends that underpin modern welcoming ceremonies for newborn girls in the Jewish community. Sharon R. Siegel traces the arc of these ceremonies from their emergence in the 1970s until today. She also delves into the history of how Jewish girls have been named over the centuries and explores how this history can shape contemporary welcoming practices.
Siegel builds on the notion that modern ceremonies should focus on a newborn girl's entry into the covenant between God and Israel and examines classic Jewish texts that speak to the critical question of women's inclusion in the covenant. A bold new perspective on the relation between the covenant and male circumcision reveals why the covenantal status of Jewish women stands independent of this male rite.
Siegel formulates a vision for the next phase in the development of Jewish rituals for newborn girls by placing these new rituals within the context of Jewish law (halacha) and synthesizing a vast array of pertinent customs, imagery, and texts. Bridging traditional Jewish beliefs and modern feminist ideals, Siegel's powerful insights draw on her experiences and personal feminist philosophy. A Jewish Ceremony for Newborn Girls is an erudite and thought-provoking narrative that will inspire wide-ranging discussions about how and why to commemorate the birth of Jewish girls.
History, Memory, and the Politics of Survival
Eliezer Gruenbaum (1908–1948) was a Polish Jew denounced for serving as a Kapo while interned at Auschwitz. He was the communist son of Itzhak Gruenbaum, the most prominent secular leader of interwar Polish Jewry who later became the chairman of the Jewish Agency’s Rescue Committee during the Holocaust and Israel’s first minister of the interior. In light of the father’s high placement in both Polish and Israeli politics, the denunciation of the younger Gruenbaum and his suspicious death during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war add intrigue to a controversy that really centers on the question of what constitutes—and how do we evaluate—moral behavior in Auschwitz.
Gruenbaum—a Jewish Kapo, a communist, an anti-Zionist, a secularist, and the son of a polarizing Zionist leader—became a symbol exploited by opponents of the movements to which he was linked. Sorting through this Rashomon-like story within the cultural and political contexts in which Gruenbaum operated, Friling illuminates key debates that rent the Jewish community in Europe and Israel from the 1930s to the 1960s.
In the late 1870s, shaken by rapid socioeconomic change, internal crises, and the rise of antisemitism, young Jews assumed leadership, created dozens of organizations, and inspired masses of followers. These organizations helped define the nineteenth-century Jewish awakening: cultural and religious renewal, and the promotion of Jewish education. Expanding upon the unfinished work of Leah Levitz Fishbane, this volume seeks to broaden our understanding of this period, which paved the way for new developments in American Jewish communal, cultural, and religious life.
Life History, Politics, and Culture
This fascinating interdisciplinary collection of essays brings gender issues to the foreground in order to redress a profound imbalance in the historiography of the Yishuv, the Jewish community in Palestine, and in the early years of the State of Israel. Although male discourse still dominates this field, some initial studies have begun to create an authentic and multifaceted Hebrew-Israeli voice by examining the activities and contributions of women.
This research has led to a number of basic questions: What was the reality of life for women in Jewish society in Ottoman and Mandatory Palestine (Eretz Israel), and in the early years of the State? What was the contribution of women to the renewal of Israeli society and culture? What is the place of gender perceptions in the study of the new local identity? The original articles in this anthology forge an innovative response to one or more of these questions, and reflecting the state of research in the field.
Writings on Identity and Difference, 1880-1940
Many people think of Jews as victims of a particular sort of racism, not as active participants in the development of racial thinking in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Yet many Jews did take up racial discourse and used it to analyze Judaism, Jewish history, and the contemporary condition of world Jewry. Race discourse generated by Jews was in part apologetic, a response to racial antisemitism; however, it also served other political and ideological needs.
Focusing primarily on works written at the height of the racial hygiene and eugenics movements in Europe and North America, this diverse anthology shows how Jewish scholars and popular writers in Europe, North America, and Palestine developed racial interpretations of Judaism and Jewish history, thereby raising fascinating and thorny issues about the nature and history of racial discourse in Europe and America. Designed for class adoption, the volume contains annotations and an introduction by the editor.
Tradition and Innovation in Early Modern Germany
Tracing the introduction of coffee into Europe, Robert Liberles challenges long-held assumptions about early modern Jewish history and shows how the Jews harnessed an innovation that enriched their personal, religious, social, and economic lives. Focusing on Jewish society in Germany in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and using coffee as a key to understanding social change, Liberles analyzes German rabbinic rulings on coffee, Jewish consumption patterns, the commercial importance of coffee for various social strata, differences based on gender, and the efforts of German authorities to restrict Jewish trade in coffee, as well as the integration of Jews into society.
A Congressional Memoir
In this remarkable book, recounting his long, influential career as a congressman from New York, Stephen Solarz gives an insider's view of the life of a hard-working legislator in the forefront of democracy movements and human rights during a tumultuous time in our nation's history. A member of the class of 1974, the so-called "Watergate" class, when 75 freshman Democrats were elected to the Congress, Solarz was part of the group that brought about a power shift in the House from an inner circle of senior committee chairs to a much larger group of subcommittee leaders. Early on he sought and won a seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where he earned a reputation as an expert in international relations, traveling to more than 100 countries and meeting the likes of Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin, Nelson Mandela, Indira Gandhi, Saddam Hussein, Kim Il Sung, and Robert Mugabe. Solarz gives fascinating, detailed descriptions of his role in bringing democracy to South Korea and Taiwan, the triumph of people power in the Philippines, the peace agreement in Cambodia, the abolition of apartheid in South Africa, and the adoption of the resolution authorizing the use of force in the first Gulf War.
Written in an engaging style, Journeys to War and Peace will appeal to all who value the struggle for human rights and seek a better understanding between differing cultures and peoples.
In Search of the Jewish Soul Food
When Laura Silver's favorite knish shop went out of business, the native New Yorker sank into mourning, but then she sprang into action. She embarked on a round-the-world quest for the origins and modern-day manifestations of the knish.
The iconic potato pie leads the author from Mrs. Stahl's bakery in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, to an Italian pasta maker in New Jersey--and on to a hunt across three continents for the pastry that shaped her identity. Starting in New York, she tracks down heirs to several knish dynasties and discovers that her own family has roots in a Polish town named Knyszyn.
With good humor and a hunger for history, Silver mines knish lore for stories of entrepreneurship, survival, and major deliciousness. Along the way, she meets Minnesota seniors who make knishes for weekly fundraisers, foodies determined to revive the legacy of Mrs. Stahl, and even the legendary knish maker's granddaughters, who share their joie de vivre--and their family recipe.
Knish connections to Eleanor Roosevelt and rap music? Die-hard investigator Silver unearths those and other intriguing anecdotes involving the starchy snack once so common along Manhattan's long-lost Knish Alley. In a series of funny, moving, and touching episodes, Silver takes us on a knish-eye tour of worlds past and present, thus laying the foundation for a global knish renaissance.