While Chaim Potok's novel The Chosen remains one of the most popular works of Jewish fiction, it has not generally been regarded as a critical success. In contrast with authors such as Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, Potok is often charged with presenting a romanticized (rather than realistic) view of traditional American Jews in the mid-twentieth century. The article challenges this assessment, arguing that Potok's work is undervalued in part because he does not present the version of Judaism preferred by critics of his time. Traditional Jews, particularly Hasidic Jews, were viewed as a throwback to the past, not a significant modern American Jewish community. This assessment reveals a biased perspective on traditional Judaism, and it assumes that the key issue confronting mid-century Jews was assimilation. The Chosen presents an alternative to this common characterization of American Judaism, highlighting instead the variety of Jewish traditions in mid-century America, and how the conflicts between them contributed to the development of American Jewish identity.
Foer, Jonathan Safran, 1977- Everything is illuminated.
Friendship in literature.
Jonathan Safran Foer's first novel, Everything is Illuminated, addresses the concern of children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors and perpetrators with the possibility of reconciliation and how it relates to Holocaust memory. Through the use of characters that are grandchildren of survivors and perpetrators, and by contrasting two entirely different approaches to memory, one tragic and the other comic, Foer brings out the quandary of post-Holocaust reconciliation. This essay examines the dynamic relationship between the two main characters, Alex, a grandchild of perpetrators, and Jonathan, a grandchild of survivors, and their modes of remembering that vie with each other to the very end of the novel. The tension between them is underscored by Alex's desire to win Jonathan's friendship. Jonathan's ultimate refusal of friendship and reconciliation is examined in relation to Holocaust memory and the meaning of Holocaust representation, which, for Foer, should resist not only comedy but also full reconciliation.
Though heir to a long tradition of Jews in politics, Joseph Lieberman was the first Jew to be nominated by a major party for national office in the United States. As Democratic candidate for vice president in 2000, he received more popular votes than his opponent, Dick Cheney. Lieberman's persona as an observant modern Orthodox Jew appealed to many at a time when religion was increasingly prominent in public life. Projecting an aura of wholesomeness, moderation, and congeniality, he was the Jew as mensch, a man who, like Arthur Miller's Biff, succeeds in American society by making himself "well-liked." He was continuously in awe of his own success at fulfilling the American dream of equal opportunity. But by 2004, when politics became more polarized and his bid for the presidency foundered, Lieberman's Jewishness seemed irrelevant and his moderation a liability.
Kitaj, R. B. -- Appreciation -- England -- London.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945), and art.
R. B. Kitaj, who had been one of the major figures in the European painting scene since 1960, was given a retrospective at the Tate Gallery in 1994. This tribute, a great honor for any artist whether living or deceased, resulted in a disastrous reception by the London press. His critics' vitriolic opinions and the painter's responses are summarized in this article. Kitaj, the Diasporist, a term he coined for those like himself whom he sees as marginalized, is too "literary" and too Jewish for British taste. Painting, for Kitaj, who was an American expatriate for forty years, is a personal voyage, and a select sampling of his history canvases reveals his deep attachment and concern for the plights of family members and close friends during the Holocaust. These paintings, as interpreted in this article, indicate how Kitaj belongs to the tradition of the learned painter in an oeuvre devoted to historical remembrance.
Jews -- Austria -- Vienna -- Identity -- History -- 19th century.
Jüdisches Museum der Stadt Wien.
Theater, Yiddish -- Austria -- Vienna -- History -- 19th century.
Bloch, J. S. (Josef Samuel), 1850-1923.
Herzl, Theodor, 1860-1904.
The article focuses on the question of Jewish identity in Vienna around the turn of the twentieth century. It departs from the thesis that the relationship between Jews and non-Jews cannot be described adequately by terms such as acculturation. Instead, attention should be paid to interactive processes between them. It will be shown that this can be done by replacing the model of "culture as text," which is a static concept, by a more dynamic notion of culture, such as "culture as performance." In applying the new perspective to the history of the Jewish–non-Jewish relationship, it is possible to reach new insights. This approach will be outlined by references to the Viennese Jewish museum, the Yiddish theatre in the Habsburg capital, and two well-known Jewish figures in late nineteenth-century Vienna, Joseph Samuel Bloch and Theodor Herzl.
The lunisolar Jewish calendar is an example par excellence of "time engineering." It is based on the relation between the mean period of the lunar motion about the earth and the mean period of the earth about the sun (the tropical year). This relation is that, to six places of decimals, the number of days in 19 tropical years is equal to the number of days in 235 lunar cycles and is known as the metonic cycle. Moreover, the Jewish calendar, unlike our civil calendar, for example, is intertwined with the days of the week by virtue of the first day of Tishri (Rosh Hashanah) being allowed—for religious reasons—only to occur on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Because the metonic-cycle relation is not exact, there will eventually be a significant seasonal drift in holidays such as Passover unless the calendar construction is modified appropriately.