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Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 361 Reviews more contemporary plays, the Fascist experience is used as a warning to (and even, provocatively, as the counterpart of) the Israeli over-inflated nationalist ego. Abramson meticulously charts the different genres that Israeli drama has used in its journey from dogmatic idealism to political protest, portraying as well the broad canvass of Israel's cultural and intellectual life. This study displays the author's admirable command of the nuances of dramatic expression and the subtleties of shifting ideological and political currents in modem Israel Nehama Aschkenasy University ofConnecticut. Stamford Stamford. CT 06901 naschkenasy@stamford.uconn.edu HEBREW CULTURE IN AMERICA: 80 YEARS OF HEBREW CULTURE IN THE UNITED STATES 1916-1995 [Hebrew]. By Moshe Pelli. pp. 392. Tel Aviv: Reshaflm, 1998. Paper, $30.00. During World War I, many leading intellectuals and writers of Hebrew from both Eastern Europe and Palestine fled to the United States for safety. Their arrival generated new excitement for efforts underway by the community of Hebrew writers and enthusiasts who were already established in America. As a result of their combined efforts, the Histadrut Ivrit (Hebrew Language and Culture Association of America) was instituted in 1916 as an umbrella organization to promote the development and spread of Hebrew culture in America. Moshe Pelli's meticulously researched book, Hebrew Culture in America: 80 Years of Hebrew Culture in the United States 1916-1995, documents the personae, institutions and publications of this organization over a period of eighty years. From its inception, as Pelli details, the Histadrut Ivrit was fraught with conflict over defming its goals and nature. Lively debates ensued over whether the movement was to strive for popular support or rather to pursue high literature and culture, and whether to utilize limited funds for publications or educational programs. Indeed, readers of this journal may recall Pelli's 1995 article analyzing conflicting ideologies during the early years of the Histadrut Ivrit (Hebrew Studies 36:73-85), a study which represents only a small fraction of the detailed treatment the issues receive in Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 362 Reviews the book. Following a decade of development, the Histadrut Ivrit entered a phase of extensive growth from the 1930s through the 1960s. due in part to the success of its youth movement in attracting a new generation of Hebrew enthusiasts to fill its ranks. The organization's activities began to decline in the late 1960s as the generation of founders dwindled in numbers. At the same time. the Histadrut Ivrit saw an increased involvement by Israeli educators in America. as well as by leaders of religiously-oriented Jewish educational institutions. In its latest transformation the Histadrut Ivrit has shifted its mission from cultural development to professional service in light of continued membership shrinkage through the 1990s. This noteworthy study presents a detailed institutional history of the Histadrut Ivrit. an organization in which the author has been involved in various capacities since his arrival in the United States as a student in 1957. The sources informing this work are drawn primarily from reports appearing in the American Hebrew press over a period of eight decades. as well as from interviews. correspondence and personal files of participants. since the Histadrut Ivrit did not keep archives of its activities. The book contextualizes this particular. idiosyncratic American Jewish subculture within the great upheavals of world Jewry. the establishment of the State of Israel. and the cultural. demographic, and linguistic shifts experienced by the American Jewish community. As the book documents, even as the Yishuv and later the State of Israel became the center of Hebrew cultural activity, Hebrew letters remained vibrant and active in America. It should be noted that this book represents only half of the project outlined by the author in the introduction. Pelli describes this volume as a chronicle of the institution of the Histadrut Ivrit, and promises a second volume to follow containing critical essays. However, even given these qualifications, the reader wishes for a little more critical analysis alongside the historical material. For example, the author's synthesis of the evidence surrounding the abortive attempt to implement and sustain a Hebrew daily in 1921-1922 provides the reader with a great...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1681
Print ISSN
0146-4094
Pages
pp. 361-363
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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