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Book Reviews 145 What he does explore is the relation of language skills to identity. His eighth chapter begins with a set of four criteria to characterize the abilities of participants in "a gleyzele tey." These include fluency with few pauses; expressiveness in coherent, reasoned, "semantically dense" sentences; ease in speaking on a variety of topics; inventiveness in phrasing utterances. Although the analysis based on these criteria is informal, Peltz relying on "subjective evaluation" (p. 136), his judgments of skills in Yiddish correspond with what he reports of participants' memories. The more fully a participant recalled speaking Yiddish in accord with the first two patterns described above, the greater the fluency in old age. Unfortunately, Peltz does not discuss how participants' skills relate to their reliance on Yiddish in cultural or social settings other than "a gleyzele tey." Yet he concludes that he found among the participants a "universal love for the language" (p. 143), a result supported by fond memories. How does Peltz's study ofSouth Philadelphians contribute to an understanding of the possibilities of continuity, of sustaining Yiddish? If memories associate Yiddish with Jewish traditions at home, Peltz has learned that an initiator, as he is himself, may spark continuity. Able to spend a year in South Philadelphia, he subsequently undertook the organization of a Yiddish cultural club for elderly participants in Northampton, Massachusetts that "supports many ventures" (p. 192). Yet he cautions that enterprises like his may be "limited to this time in American history" (p. 196), that possibilities for the future require "empirical and theoretical approaches to second-language acquisition" (p. 197). The third issue ofPeltz's study, how the use ofYiddish by elderly people compares with practices among other ethnic groups, indicates a general trend. For Italians in Australia, Punjabis in California, and Slavic women in the United States, the work of memory is similar in their identifying themselves with the language of immigrants. In part, this comparability spurs Peltz to conclude in the belief that groups such as "a gleyzele tey," if sustained, may help languages of immigration to continue to thrive. Eugene Green Department of English Boston University Insider/Outsider: American Jews and Multiculturalism, edited by David Biale, Michael Galchinsky, and Susannah Hesche!. Berkeley: University ofCalifornia Press, 1998. 280 pp. $45.00 (c); $16.95 (p). No matter how you slice it, the Jews are always asking, "Is it good for the Jews? Is it bad for the Jews?" Insider/Outsider: American Jews and Multiculturalism is another collection of essays asking these perennial questions. All of the contributions to this 146 SHOFAR Fa111999 Vol. 18, No.1 volume focus on how Jews should, could, would, might, etc. "cope" both with the reality and the ideology of multiculturalism. Since the end of World War II Jewish mobility in the United States has, for the most part, been swift and has safely ensconced most Jews who have not yet retired in the upper middle class. Nonetheless, Jewish history in Christian lands has conditioned many of them to worry about their security in American society. As a result, therefore, they are skeptical about a multiculturalism which neither reflects their concerns nor recognizes their status (as many Jews prefer to see it) as "outsiders." Intelligent and knowledgeable Jews can be found on both sides of the spectrum of multiculturalism. However, a number ofthe most articulate are upsetby it because some of the promoters and beneficiaries of multiculturalism also associate with some of the most outspoken antisemites in the United States. Anxious Jews, recalling the history of Jews and their vulnerable positions in times of societal crises, worry about the future and the influence of those who are attacking them. While objective outside observers might regard Jews in America as quintessential insiders, for most Jews this is too recent a phenomenon for them to wear comfortably. Vocal attacks from the have-nots in society still upset them. Realistically, many Jews are frightened by a multiculturalism which sees them as part of the problem, that wants special assistance only to those groups who perceive themselves to have been victimized, that do not include any white men, and that seek redress of a kind that most other Americans do not...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 145-148
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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