Abstract

This article explores the effort of Pauline Wengeroff, backed by key Jewish cultural figures in Europe and the United States, including Solomon Schechter and Israel Friedlaender, to have an English translation of her Memoirs of a Grandmother published in the US by the Jewish Publication Society. Despite favorable initial contacts after the work’s publication in Germany in 1908, the project was ultimately rejected, ostensibly because Wengeroff’s translator was her brother, a Christian convert who missionized Jews. Did Wengeroff know this when she reported in Memoirs that he had reverted to Judaism, or while she pursued contacts with the Jewish Publication Society? Once the Jewis h Publication Society learned the translator’s identity, a full-scale debate about Memoirs ensued, with the work characterized as an apologia both for excessive traditionalism and for conversion and assimilation. This article explores how the same work could be read in contradictory ways and how cultural anxiety about the Jewish future in the United States led to a panicked reading of Memoirs.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2028
Print ISSN
0021-6704
Pages
pp. 142-187
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-17
Open Access
No
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