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The Shoah in Latin American Literature and Culture
In this bold study, Edna Aizenberg offers a much-needed corrective to both Latin American literary scholarship and popular assumptions that the whole of Latin America served as a Nazi refuge both during and after World War II. Analyzing the treatment of the Shoah by five leading figures in Argentine, Brazilian, and Chilean writing—Alberto Gerchunoff, Clarice Lispector, Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriela Mistral, and Joao Guimaraes Rosa—Aizenberg illuminates how Latin American intellectuals engaged with the horrific information that reached them regarding the Holocaust, including the sympathy and collaboration of their own governments with the Nazis.
Aizenberg emphasizes how—through fiction, journalism, and activism—these five culture-makers opposed and fought fascism. At the same time, her readings of individual texts confront shopworn clichés about Latin American writing and literature, suggesting deeper and richer dimensions to many canonical works. This interdisciplinary book fills critical gaps in both Holocaust and Latin American studies, and will be of great interest to scholars and students in both fields.
The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman
Allan Sherman was the Larry David, the Adam Sandler, the Sacha Baron Cohen of 1963. He led Jewish humor and sensibilities out of ethnic enclaves and into the American mainstream with explosively funny parodies of classic songs that won Sherman extraordinary success and acclaim across the board, from Harpo Marx to President Kennedy. In Overweight Sensation, Mark Cohen argues persuasively for Sherman's legacy as a touchstone of postwar humor and a turning point in Jewish American cultural history. With exclusive access to Allan Sherman's estate, Cohen has written the first biography of the manic, bacchanalian, and hugely creative artist who sold three million albums in just twelve months, yet died in obscurity a decade later at the age of forty-nine. Comprehensive, dramatic, stylish, and tragic, Overweight Sensation is destined to become the definitive Sherman biography.
British General Sir Allan Cunningham was appointed in 1945 as high commissioner of Palestine, and served in this capacity until the end of the British mandate on May 15, 1948. The three years of Cunningham's tenure were tremendously complex politically: players included the British government in London, the British army, the British administration in Jerusalem, and diverse military forces within the Zionist establishment, both Jew and Arab. Golani revisits this period from the perspective of the high commissioner, examining understudied official documents as well as Cunningham's letters, notes, and cables. He emphasizes especially the challenges of navigating Jewish and Arab terrorists, on the one hand, and the multiple layers of British institutional bureaucracies, on the other, and does an excellent job of establishing Sir Allan's daily trials within the broad frame of the collapse of the British Empire following World War II.
The Holocaust as Presence
In this volume, eminent scholar Berel Lang brings the perspective of philosophical analysis to bear on issues related to the Holocaust. Setting out from a conception of philosophical "witnessing" that expands and illuminates the standard view of the witness, he confronts the question of what philosophy can add to the views of the Holocaust provided in other disciplines. Drawing on the philosophical areas of political theory, ethics, aesthetics, and the philosophy of history, he draws attention especially to the post-Holocaust emphasis on the concepts of genocide and "group rights."
Lang's study, which emphasizes the moral choices that now face post-Holocaust thought, inspires the reader to think of the Holocaust in new ways, showing how its continued presence in contemporary consciousness affects areas of thought and practice not directly associated with that event.
Jewish Women in Medieval Europe
This volume, an amazing act of historical recovery and reconstruction, offers a comprehensive examination of Jewish women in Europe during the High Middle Ages (1000-1300). Avraham Grossman covers multiple aspects of women's lives in medieval Jewish society, including the image of woman, the structure of the family unit, age at marriage, position in family and society, her place in economic and religious life, her education, her role in family ceremonies, violence against women, and the position of the divorcee and the widow in society.
Grossman shows that the High Middle Ages saw a distinct improvement in the status of Jewish women in Europe relative to their status during the Talmudic period and in Muslim countries. If, during the twelfth century, rabbis applauded women as "pious and pure" because of their major role in the martyrdom of the Crusades of 1096, then by the end of the thirteenth century, rabbis complained that women were becoming bold and rebellious. Two main factors fostered this change: first, the transformation of Jewish society from agrarian to "bourgeois," with women performing an increasingly important function in the family economy; and second, the openness toward women in Christian Europe, where women were not subjected to strict limitations based upon conceptions of modesty, as was the case in Muslim countries. The heart of Grossman's book concerns the improvement of Jewish women's lot, and the efforts of secular and religious authorities to impede their new-found status.
Bringing together a variety of sources including halakhic literature, biblical and talmudic exegesis, ethical literature and philosophy, love songs, folklore and popular literature, gravestones, and drawings, Grossman's book reconstructs the hitherto unrecorded lives of Jewish women during the Middle Ages.
Media, Gender, and Politics in Mormon Fundamentalism
Recently, polygamy has become a "primetime" phenomenon. Television shows like Big Love and Sister Wives demonstrate the "progressive" side of polygamy while horror stories from victims of abusive marriages offer less upbeat experiences among the adherents of the fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church). In general, the American public views fundamentalist Mormons, and polygamy in particular, with salacious interest or disgust.
Bennion, herself a product of Mormon polygamy, seeks to dispel the myths and misinformation that surround this topic. This study, based on 17 years of ethnographic research among the Allred Group (Apostolic United Brethren) and an analysis of recent blog journal entries written by a range of polygamous women, examines the variability and complexity of contemporary Mormon fundamentalist life in the Intermountain West.
Although Bennion highlights problems associated with polygamy, including evidence that some forms are at high risk for father-child incest, she challenges the media-driven depiction of plural marriage as uniformly abusive and harmful to women. She shows how polygamist families can provide both economic security and social sustenance for some women, and how the authority of the husband can be undermined by the stresses of providing for multiple wives and children. Going beyond the media's obsession with the sexual aspects of polygamist marriage, Bennion offers a rich description of familial, social, and legal contexts. Throughout, she makes the case for legalizing polygamy in order to allow greater visibility and regulation of the practice.
Published in 1998 as Havalim, The Pure Element of Time is a rich and evocative autobiographical novel about a writer's development. With his keen eye and opulent writing style, Haim Be'er turns the story of his childhood and maturity into a complex and gripping work of art.
Constructed as a triptych, The Pure Element of Time begins with the author's boyhood. Raised in an orthodox family in an old Jerusalem neighborhood in the early 1950s, Be'er was profoundly influenced by his overly pious grandmother, who was, nonetheless, a natural storyteller whose richly evocative parables and tales inspired his lifelong love for language. The middle section depicts his parents' marriage, a tragic misalliance between a smart, independent Jerusalem-born woman and a withdrawn and defeated refugee from the Russian pogroms. The emergence of the writer's individual literary voice--informed by, yet ultimately transcending, the influences of tradition and history--forms the emotional and psychological core of Be'er's work.
The Origins of Chabad Hasidism
Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady (1745–1812), in imperial Russia, was the founder and first rebbe of Chabad, a branch of Hasidic Judaism that flourishes to the present day. The Chabad-Lubavitch movement he founded in the region now known as Belarus played, and continues to play, an important part in the modernization processes and postwar revitalization of Orthodox Jewry. Drawing on historical source materials that include Shneur Zalman’s own works and correspondence, as well as documents concerning his imprisonment and interrogation by the Russian authorities, Etkes focuses on Zalman’s performance as a Hasidic leader, his unique personal qualities and achievements, and the role he played in the conflict between Hasidim and its opponents. In addition, Etkes draws a vivid picture of the entire generation that came under Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s influence. This comprehensive biography will appeal to scholars and students of the history of Hasidism, East European Jewry, and Jewish spirituality.
Yiddish Schools and Their Periodicals for American Children, 1917–1950
This unique literary study of Yiddish children’s periodicals casts new light on secular Yiddish schools in America in the first half of the twentieth century. Rejecting the traditional religious education of the Talmud Torahs and congregational schools, these Yiddish schools chose Yiddish itself as the primary conduit of Jewish identity and culture. Four Yiddish school networks emerged, which despite their political and ideological differences were all committed to propagating the Yiddish language, supporting social justice, and preparing their students for participation in both Jewish and American culture.
Focusing on the Yiddish children’s periodicals produced by the Labor Zionist Farband, the secular Sholem Aleichem schools, the socialist Workmen’s Circle, and the Ordn schools of the Communist-aligned International Workers Order, Naomi Kadar shows how secular immigrant Jews sought to pass on their identity and values as they prepared their youth to become full-fledged Americans.