For some, Richard Wagner is infamous as the favorite composer of Hitler, who seems to have admired Wagner as an early exponent of his own racist ideology and worldview. Impressed by this assumption victims of Hitler have also associated Wagner and his music with Nazism to such an extent that in Israel a ban on public performance of that music is upheld to this day. Jacob Katz, a scholar of international repute, approaches the highly charged issue of Richard Wagner’s anti-Semitism with the tools of a critical historian, asking two central questions: What role did anti-Semitism play in the life and work of Richard Wagner? And how did his anti-Jewish thoughts and sentiments contribute to the development of political anti-Semitism and Nazism? In this first comprehensive and judicious treatment of Wagner’s anti-Semitism, Katz analyzes the composer’s attitudes in their own time and place and in the context of Wagner’s life and aspirations. He traces Wagner’s feelings toward Jews chronologically, showing that the composer was ultimately obsessed by a deep-seated Judeophobia generated by conflict with his Jewish mentors and competitors. But he argues against reading the later emergence of Nazism back into Wagner’s life and work. While not absolving Wagner from responsibility for his views, Katz contends that contemporary Jews have paradoxically and uncritically adopted the Nazis’ assumptions about Wagner. Katz argues that Wagner’s music is untainted by his anti-Semitism, that there is, in fact, very little in Wagner’s art that, without forced speculation, can be related to his racist views.
Those who exit a religion—particularly one they were born and raised in—often find themselves at sea in their efforts to transition to life beyond their community. In Degrees of Separation, Schneur Zalman Newfield, who went through this process himself, interviews seventy-four Lubavitch and Satmar ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews who left their communities.He presents their motivations for leaving as well as how they make sense of their experiences and their processes of exiting, detailing their attitudes and opinions regarding their religious upbringing. Newfield also examines how these exiters forge new ways of being that their upbringing had not prepared them for, while also considering what these particular individuals lose and retain in the exit process.
Degrees of Separation presents a comprehensive portrait of the prolonged state of being “in-between” that characterizes transition out of a totalizing worldview. What Newfield discovers is that exiters experience both a sense of independence and a persistent connection; they are not completely dislocated from their roots once they “arrive” at their new destination. Moreover, Degrees of Separation shows that this process of transitioning identity has implications beyond religion.
What does a country's television programming say about its deep character, beliefs, dreams, and fears? In Demon in the Box, Tasha G. Oren recounts the volatile history of Israeli television and thereby reveals the history of the nation itself.
Initially rejected as a corrupting influence on "the people of the book," television became the object of fantasies and anxieties that went to the heart of Israel's most pressing concerns: Arab-Israeli relations, immigration, and the forging of a modern Israeli culture. Television broadcasting was aimed toward external relations-the flow of messages across borders, Arab-Israeli conflict, and the shaping of public opinion worldwide-as much as it was toward internal needs and interests. Through archival research and analysis of public scandals and early programs, Oren traces Israeli television's transformation from a feared agent of decadence to a powerful national communication tool, and eventually, to a vastly popular entertainment medium.
As part of its effort to forge a new secular Jewish nation, the nascent Israeli state tried to limit Jewish religiosity. However, with the steady growth of the ultraorthodox community and the expansion of the settler community, Israeli society is becoming increasingly religious. Although the arrival of religious discourse in Israeli politics has long been noticed, its cultural development has rarely been addressed. Directed by God explores how the country’s popular media, principally film and television, reflect this transformation. In doing so, it examines the changing nature of Zionism and the place of Judaism within it.
Once the purview of secular culture, Israel’s media initially promoted alternatives to traditional religious expression; however, using films such as Kadosh, Waltz with Bashir, and Eyes Wide Open, Yaron Peleg shows how Israel’s contemporary film and television programs have been shaped by new religious trends and how secular Israeli culture has processed and reflected on its religious heritage. He investigates how shifting cinematic visions of Jewish masculinity and gender track transformations in the nation’s religious discourse. Moving beyond the secular/religious divide, Directed by God explores changing film and television representations of different Jewish religious groups, assessing what these representations may mean for the future of Israeli society.
Part biography, part medical history, and part study of Jewish life in turn-of-the-century America, Jeanne Abrams's book tells the story of Dr. Charles David Spivak - a Jewish immigrant from Russia who became one of the leaders of the American Tuberculosis Movement.
Born in Russia in 1861, Spivak immigrated to the United States in 1882 and received his medical degree from Philadelphia's Jefferson Medical College by 1890. In 1896, his wife's poor health brought them to Colorado. Determined to find a cure, Spivak became one of the most charismatic and well-known leaders in the American Tuberculosis Movement. His role as director of Denver's Jewish Consumptives' Relief Society sanatorium allowed his personal philosophies to strongly influence policies. His unique blend of Yiddishkeit, socialism, and secularism - along with his belief in treating the "whole" patient - became a model for integrating medical, social, and rehabilitation services that was copied across the country.
Not only a national leader in the crusade against tuberculosis but also a luminary in the American Jewish community, Dr. Charles Spivak was a physician, humanitarian, writer, linguist, journalist, administrator, social worker, ethnic broker, and medical, public health, and social crusader. Abrams's biography will be a welcome addition to anyone interested in the history of medicine, Jewish life in America, or Colorado history.
From its earliest days, the American film industry has attracted European artists. With the rise of Hitler, filmmakers of conscience in Germany and other countries, particularly those of Jewish origin, found it difficult to survive and fledùfor their work and their livesùto the United States. Some had trouble adapting to Hollywood, but many were celebrated for their cinematic contributions, especially to the dark shadows of film noir.
Driven to Darkness explores the influence of Jewish TmigrT directors and the development of this genre. While filmmakers such as Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder, Otto Preminger, and Edward G. Ulmer have been acknowledged as crucial to the noir canon, the impact of their Jewishness on their work has remained largely unexamined until now. Through lively and original analyses of key films, Vincent Brook penetrates the darkness, shedding new light on this popular film form and the artists who helped create it.