This absorbing biography chronicles the life and work of one of the most important entertainers of the twentieth century. Eddie Cantor (1892–1964) starred in theater, film, radio, and television. His immense popularity across a variety of media, his pride in his Jewish heritage, and his engagement with pressing political issues distinguished him from other headliners of his era. Paying equal attention to Cantor’s humor and politics, Weinstein documents his significance as a performer, philanthropist, and activist. Many show business figures quietly shed their Jewish backgrounds or did not call attention to the fact that they were Jewish. Cantor was different. He addressed the vital issues of his times, including acculturation, national identity, and antisemitism. He was especially forceful in opposing Nazism and paid a price for this activism in 1939, when a sponsor cancelled the actor’s radio program. In this carefully researched book, Weinstein uncovers sketches and routines filled with Jewish phrases, allusions, jokes, songs, and stories. Cantor frequently did not mark this material as “Jewish,” relying instead on attentive audiences to interpret his coded performances. Illustrated with thirty photographs, The Eddie Cantor Story examines the evolution, impact, and legacy of Cantor’s performance style. His music and comedy not only shaped the history of popular entertainment, but also provide a foundation for ongoing efforts to redefine Jewish culture and build community in contemporary America.
Although recent scholarship has examined gender issues in Judaism with regard to texts, rituals, and the rabbinate, there has been no full-length examination of the education of Jewish children in day schools. Drawing on studies in education, social science, and psychology, as well as personal interviews, the authors show how traditional (mainly Orthodox) day school education continues to re-inscribe gender inequities and socialize students into unhealthy gender identities and relationships. They address pedagogy, school practices, curricula, and textbooks, as along with single-sex versus coed schooling, dress codes, sex education, Jewish rituals, and gender hierarchies in educational leadership. Drawing a stark picture of the many ways both girls and boys are molded into gender identities, the authors offer concrete resources and suggestions for transforming educational practice.
Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel has long opposed the silence of bystanders that allows atrocities like the Holocaust to occur. Nevetheless, since the 1980's, Wiesel has come under criticism for his refusal to speak out about the State of Israel's treatment of Palestinian people.
Mark Chmiel's thoroughly researched and penetrating study is the first book to examine both Wiesel's practice of solidarity with suffering people and his silence before Israeli and American power. Drawing on Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky's studies on "worthy and unworthy victims," the author analyzes Wiesel's initiatives of Jewish and universal solidarity with groups ranging from Holocaust survivors and Russian Jews to Vietnamese boat people and Kosovar refugees.
Chmiel also critically engages Wiesel's long-standing defense of the State of Israel as well as his confrontations and collaborations with the U.S. government, including the birth of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the 1985 Bitburg affair with President Reagan, and U.S. intervention in the Balkans.
Throughout, the author probes the nuances and ambiguities of Wiesel's human rights activism and shows the various uses to which his Holocaust discourse has been put, both in the Middle East conflict and in issues involving U.S. foreign policy.
Elie Wiesel and the Politics of Moral Leadership provides a provocative view of one of the most acclaimed moralists in recent American history and raises important questions about what it means to be a responsible intellectual in the United States.
The biblical accounts of Eve's life are central to Western culture, occupying a privileged place in our literature and art, culture, and society. For both Judaism and Christianity, these stories involving Eve have for centuries been entangled with the religious and social construction of gender. The ambiguous biblical record of her life from the two versions of her creation, through her encounter with the forbidden fruit, to her expulsion from Eden, and followed by the tantalizing glimpses of her life in the real world has served through the ages as a mirror of commonly held views about women. For Jewish readers, Eve's role as metonym -- signifying womanhood, or Jewish womanhood, as a whole -- is of prime importance. By tracing the imagined character of Eve from ancient times to the present, Eternally Eve opens a window on the transmission and persistence of cultural and social values. Eternally Eve takes as its subject the many ways these stories can be read, interpreting the biblical narratives as well as their iteration by rabbinic midrashists and modern poets. Anne Lapidus Lerner argues that we must set aside, or at least rethink, a series of assumptions about Eve that have been dominant in Jewish thought for centuries and instead return to the original texts to rediscover meanings implicit in them. Using modern poetry about Eve as a touchstone for reinterpreting older texts, Lerner discovers that Genesis is often more open to contemporary values than are later rabbinic texts. Linking sacred texts to works of the classical and modern imagination, Lerner restores to her sources meanings suppressed or neglected over many years and demonstrates their power to speak today.
Alicia Ostriker’s artistic and intellectual productions as a poet, critic, and essayist over the past 50 years are protean and have been profoundly influential to generations of readers, writers, and critics. In all her writings, both the feminist and the human engage fiercely with the material and metaphysical world. Ostriker is a poet concerned with questions of social justice, equality, religion, and how to live in a world marked by both beauty and tragedy.
Everywoman Her Own Theology: On the Poetry of Alicia Suskin Ostriker engages Ostriker’s poetry from throughout her career, including her first volume Songs, her award-winning collection The Imaginary Lover, and her more recent work in the collections No Heaven, the volcano sequence, The Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog, and Waiting for the Light. Like her literary criticism and essays, Ostriker’s poetry explores themes of feminism, Jewish life, family, and social justice.
With insightful essays—some newly written for this collection—poets and literary critics including Toi Derricotte, Daisy Fried, Cynthia Hogue, Tony Hoagland, and Eleanor Wilner illuminate and open new pathways for critical engagement with Alicia Ostriker’s lifetime of poetic work.
Jews have always played an important role in the generation of culture in Latin America, despite their relatively small numbers in the overall population. In the early days of cinema, they served as directors, producers, screenwriters, composers, and broadcasters. As Latin American societies became more religiously open in the later twentieth century, Jewish characters and themes began appearing in Latin American films and eventually achieved full inclusion. Landmark films by Jewish directors in Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil, which are home to the largest and most influential Jewish communities in Latin America, have enjoyed critical and popular acclaim.
Evolving Images is the first volume devoted to Jewish Latin American cinema, with fifteen critical essays by leading scholars from Latin America, the United States, Europe, and Israel. The contributors address transnational and transcultural issues of Jewish life in Latin America, such as assimilation, integration, identity, and other aspects of life in the Diaspora. Their discussions of films with Jewish themes and characters show the rich diversity of Jewish cultures in Latin America, as well as how Jews, both real and fictional, interact among themselves and with other groups, raising the question of how much their ethnicity may be adulterated when adopting a combined identity as Jewish and Latin American. The book closes with a groundbreaking section on the affinities between Jewish themes in Hollywood and Latin American films, as well as a comprehensive filmography.