Farideh Goldin was born to her fifteen-year-old mother in 1953 and into a Jewish community living in an increasingly hostile Islamic state—prerevolutionary Iran. This memoir is Goldin’s passionate and painful account of her childhood in a poor Jewish household and her emigration to the United States in 1975. As she recalls trips to the market and the mikvah, and as she evokes ritual celebrations like weddings, Goldin chronicles her childhood, her extended family, and the lives of the women in her community in Shiraz, a southern Iranian city. Her memoir details her parents’ "courtship" (her father selected her mother from a group of adolescent girls), her mother’s lonely life as a child-bride, and Goldin’s childhood home which was presided over by her paternal grandmother. Goldin’s memoir conveys not just the personal trauma of growing up in a family fraught with discord but also the tragic human costs of religious dogmatism. In Goldin’s experience, Jewish fundamentalism was intensified by an Islamic context. Although the Muslims were antagonistic to Jews, their views on women’s roles and their treatment of women influenced the attitude and practices of some Iranian Jews. In this brave and dispassionate portrayal of a little-known corner of Jewish life, Farideh Goldin confronts profound sadness yet captures the joys of a child’s wonder as she savors the scenes and textures and scents of Jewish Iran. Readers share her youthful adventures and dangers, coming to understand how such experiences shape her choice.
“In the spring of 1995, the condition I seem to have been waiting for all my life finally struck me.” So begins Jane Lazarre’s account of her transforming battle with breast cancer. Following in the tradition of her critically acclaimed literary memoirs The Mother Knot and Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness: Memoir of a White Mother of Black Sons, Lazarre brilliantly interweaves her experience of life-threatening illness with other stories of recent and past losses—most notably, that of her mother to breast cancer when Jane was a small child. From these memories and experiences, Lazarre crafts a story that is at once intensely intimate and universally healing.
As she contends with the pain and many indignities of her treatment for cancer, Lazarre realizes that successful medical treatment will only be part of her healing process. Her own illness becomes the vehicle for coming to terms with key moments of loss and grief—the death of a beloved therapist from breast cancer, her brother-in-law’s death from AIDS, a traumatic disappointment in her work life, and the unresolved pain of being a motherless child. The gift of Lazarre’s writing is her ability to transform her narratives of grief and loss into a story whose power to heal lies in its ability to penetrate the unconscious and give voice to the elusive truths hidden there. Through her writing, Lazarre is able to embrace grief—even her own inarticulate grief as a child—and find her way through the story to a restored sense of wholeness.
In Wet Earth and Dreams Jane Lazarre once again proves herself to be both companion and guide through some of the most difficult challenges life has to offer. As always, she draws strength not only from sustaining friendship and love, but also from her own faith in the power of storytelling to make bearable the seemingly unbearable. Lazarre’s bravely and beautifully written account of grief, illness, and death is at the last a celebration of the redemptive possibilities of the creative spirit.
Usually, we think of the state of modern Israel, as well as the late nineteenth-century Zionist movement that led to its founding, as a response to anti-Semitism which grew out of cultural and religious Judaism. In What Is Modern Israel?, however, Yakov M. Rabkin turns this understanding on its head, arguing convincingly that Zionism, far from being a natural development of Judaism, in fact has its historical and theological roots in Protestant Christianity. While most Jewish people viewed Zionism as marginal or even heretical, Christian enthusiasm for the Restoration of the Jews to the Promised Land transformed the traditional Judaic yearning for ‘Return’—a spiritual concept with a very different meaning—into a political project.
Drawing on many overlooked pages of history, and using on a uniquely broad range of sources in English, French, Hebrew, and Russian, Rabkin shows that Zionism was conceived as a sharp break with Judaism and Jewish continuity. Rabkin argues that Israel’s past and present must be understood in the context of European ethnic nationalism, colonial expansion, and geopolitical interests rather than—as is all too often the case—an incarnation of Biblical prophecies or a culmination of Jewish history.
'This elegantly written, erudite book is essential reading for all of us, whatever our identifications' - Lynne Segal
Antisemitism is one of the most controversial topics of our time. The public, academics, journalists, activists and Jewish people themselves are divided over its meaning. Antony Lerman shows that this is a result of a 30-year process of redefinition of the phenomenon, casting Israel, problematically defined as the 'persecuted collective Jew', as one of its main targets.
This political project has taken the notion of the 'new antisemitism' and codified it in the flawed International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's 'working definition' of antisemitism. This text is the glue holding together an international network comprising the Israeli government, pro-Israel advocacy groups, Zionist organizations, Jewish communal defence bodies and sympathetic governments fighting a war against those who would criticize Israel.
The consequences of this redefinition have been alarming, supressing free speech on Palestine/Israel, legitimizing Islamophobic right-wing forces, and politicizing principled opposition to antisemitism.
Both survivors of the Holocaust and those who were not there agree that it is impossible to tell what happened as the Nazi Final Solution was put into effect. No writing can adequately imagine the concentration camps, ghettos, and death camps. And that is precisely why writers must tell-and retell-what happened there.
In When Night Fell: An Anthology of Holocaust Short Stories, Linda Schermer Raphael and Marc Lee Raphael have collected twenty-six short stories that tell of the human toll of the Holocaust on those who survived its horrors, as well as later generations touched by its memory. The stories are framed by discussion of the current debate about who owns the Holocaust and who is entitled to speak about it.
Some of the stories included here are by internationally acclaimed authors. Others may be new to many readers. When Night Fell is a fitting memorial to this genocidal horror, putting eloquent voice to human endurance that is-almost-beyond words.
From immigrant ghetto love stories such as The Cohens and the Kellys (1926), through romantic comedies including Meet the Parents (2000) and Knocked Up (2007), to television series such as Transparent (2014–), Jewish-Christian couplings have been a staple of popular culture for over a century. In these pairings, Joshua Louis Moss argues, the unruly screen Jew is the privileged representative of progressivism, secular modernism, and the cosmopolitan sensibilities of the mass-media age. But his/her unruliness is nearly always contained through romantic union with the Anglo-Christian partner. This Jewish-Christian meta-narrative has recurred time and again as one of the most powerful and enduring, although unrecognized, mass-culture fantasies.
Using the innovative framework of coupling theory, Why Harry Met Sally surveys three major waves of Jewish-Christian couplings in popular American literature, theater, film, and television. Moss explores how first-wave European and American creators in the early twentieth century used such couplings as an extension of modernist sensibilities and the American “melting pot.” He then looks at how New Hollywood of the late 1960s revived these couplings as a sexually provocative response to the political conservatism and representational absences of postwar America. Finally, Moss identifies the third wave as emerging in television sitcoms, Broadway musicals, and “gross-out” film comedies to grapple with the impact of American economic globalism since the 1990s. He demonstrates that, whether perceived as a threat or a triumph, Jewish-Christian couplings provide a visceral, easily graspable, template for understanding the rapid transformations of an increasingly globalized world.
Is the Bible actually a love story between a deity and a people? And what does this love story have to do with the modern world? In With All Thine Heart distinguished cultural critic Ilan Stavans speaks to freelance writer Mordecai Drache about love in the Bible.
Presented in an engaging, conversational format and touched with striking artwork, the textured dialogue between Stavans and Drache is meant to show how the Bible is a multidimensional text and one that, when considered over the course of history, still has the power to shape our world. The theme of love provides the connective tissue that binds this work.
Addressing a wide range of topics, from biblical archaeology and fundamentalism to Hollywood movies, lexicography, and the act of praying, With All Thine Heart suggests that the Hebrew Bible is a novel worth decoding patiently, such as one does with classics like Don Quixote de la Mancha, In Search of Lost Time, and Anna Karenina. Similar to the protagonists in these tales, biblical characters, although not shaped with the artistic nuance of modern literature, allow for astonishing insight. This exploration of love through the pages of the Bible—organized chronologically from Genesis to Exodus and followed by insightful meditations on the Song of Songs and the Book of Job—is a delightful intellectual and spiritual treat . . . Shema Ysrael!
Jewish anarchism has long been marginalized in histories of anarchist thought and action. Anna Elena Torres and Kenyon Zimmer edit a collection of essays which recovers many aspects of this erased tradition.
Contributors bring to light the presence and persistence of Jewish anarchism throughout histories of radical labor, women’s studies, political theory, multilingual literature, and ethnic studies.
These essays reveal an ongoing engagement with non-Jewish radical cultures, including the translation practices of the Jewish anarchist press. Jewish anarchists drew from a matrix of secular, cultural, and religious influences, inventing new anarchist forms that ranged from mystical individualism to militantly atheist revolutionary cells.
With Freedom in Our Ears brings together more than a dozen scholars and translators to write the first collaborative history of international, multilingual, and transdisciplinary Jewish anarchism.
The term Niddah means separation. During her menstrual flow and for several days thereafter, a Jewish woman is considered Niddah -- separate from her husband and unable to practice the sacred rituals of Judaism. Purification in a miqveh (a ritual bath) following her period restores full status as a wife and member of the Jewish community. In the contemporary world, debates about Niddah focus less on the literal exclusion of menstruating women from the synagogue, instead emphasizing relations between husband and wife and the general role of Jewish women in Judaism. Although this has been the law since ancient times, the meaning and practice of Niddah has been widely contested. Women and Water explores how these purity rituals have affected Jewish women across time and place, and shows how their own interpretation of Niddah often conflicted with rabbinic views. These essays also speak to contemporary feminist issues such as shaping women's identity, power relations between women and men, and the role of women in the sacred.
Honorable Mention for the Robert K. Martin Prize 2019
Media portrayals of Orthodox Jewish women frequently depict powerless, silent individuals who are at best naive to live an Orthodox lifestyle, and who are at worst, coerced into it. Karen E. H. Skinazi delves beyond this stereotype in Women of Valor to identify a powerful tradition of feminist literary portrayals of Orthodox women, often created by Orthodox women themselves. She examines Orthodox women as they appear in memoirs, comics, novels, and movies, and speaks with the authors, filmmakers, and musicians who create these representations. Throughout the work, Skinazi threads lines from the poem “Eshes Chayil,” the Biblical description of an Orthodox “Woman of Valor.” This proverb unites Orthodoxy and feminism in a complex relationship, where Orthodox women continuously question, challenge, and negotiate Orthodox and feminist values. Ultimately, these women create paths that unite their work, passions, and families under the framework of an “Eshes Chayil,” a woman who situates religious conviction within her own power.
The conventional history of Jewish education in the United States focuses on the contributions of Samson Benderly and his male disciples. This volume tells a different story—the story of the women who either influenced or were influenced by Benderly or his closest friend, Mordecai Kaplan. Through ten portraits, the contributors illuminate the impact of these unheralded women who introduced American Jews to Hebraism and Zionism and laid the foundation for contemporary Jewish experiential education. Taken together, these ten portraits illuminate the important and hitherto unexamined contribution of women to the development of American Jewish education.
Although Woody Allen’s films have received extensive attention from scholars and critics, no book has focused exclusively on Jewishness in his work, particularly that of the late 1990s and beyond. In this anthology, a distinguished group of contributors—whose work is richly contextualized in the fields of literature, philosophy, film, theater, and comedy—examine the schlemiel, Allen and women, the Jewish take on the “morality of murder,” Allen’s take on Hebrew scripture and Greek tragedy, his stage work, his cinematic treatment of food and dining, and what happens to “Jew York” when Woody takes his films out of New York City. Considered together, these essays delineate the intellectual, artistic, and moral development of one of cinema’s most durable and controversial directors.
Aufbau—a German-language weekly, published in New York and circulated nationwide—was an essential platform for the generation of refugees from Hitler and the displaced people and concentration camp survivors who arrived in the United States after the war. The publication served to link thousands of readers looking for friends and loved ones in every part of the world. In its pages Aufbau focused on concerns that strongly impacted this community in the aftermath of World War II: anti-Semitism in the United States and in Europe, the ever-changing immigration and naturalization procedures, debates about the designation of Hitler refugees as enemy aliens, questions about punishment for the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes, the struggle for compensation and restitution, and the fight for a Jewish homeland. The book examines the columns and advertisements that chronicled the social and cultural life of that generation and maintained a detailed account of German-speaking cultures in exile. Peter Schrag is the first to present a definitive account of the influential publication that brought postwar refugees together and into the American mainstream.