By Mrs. Simon Kander, 7th ed. Milwaukee, WI: Press of J. Long live gefilte fish! Some have been adapted to reflect a trend toward lighter, healthier eating. Others have been left intact and are, in fact, timeless. Fry the first five ingredients in the olive oil, add the next four ingredients and the seasoning to taste and cook. When nearly done, add a small can of mushrooms, half a cup of either bean sprouts or French green peas, or string beans, chopped fine, or asparagus tips. The see-yu sauce, which is eaten with this dish, can be procured at any Chinese grocery.
For pre American Jews, a people without a homeland, being a citizen of the world was a necessary point of pride. Eating in a Chinese restaurant also held another appeal for Jews: the possibil- ity of being white. A craze for the game of Mah-Jongg swept the nation and, along with it, a taste for chop suey. But what was this chop suey? Its actual place and time of origin is unknown, but historians are in general agreement that the dish is a product of late nineteenth or early twen- tieth century America.
The edition included Chow Mein75 and Chinese Rice. Chicken Chop Suey, page Chinese Rice, page Egg Foyung, page Tea Rolls, page Preserved Kumquats, page By , the SCB offered three versions of chop suey, all containing ingredients a bit more in line with Cantonese cooking. Simon Kander, 11th ed. Milwaukee: The Settlement Cook Book co. Chicken noodle soup often appears on the Mandarin bill of fare. The Settlement Cook Book had them covered there too. Serve with Salt Water. Soup, page 98, with Matzos Balls, page Spring Lamb, page , or Spring Chicken, page New Potatoes with Chopped Parsley, page Fresh Asparagus, page Fresh Peas, page Fresh Fruit Salad, page Strawberry Ice, page Stuffed Prunes, page Until this point, no holiday menus were offered in The Settlement Cook Book.
There is a danger when one reads cookbooks for evidence of actual behavior. Nonetheless, on the page we see the tradi- tional foods of the seder, combined in an attractively designed, bourgeois first course: the recipe without the ritual. But it is their Judaism that the people lose so rapidly. A diasporic people from their beginnings, Jews have adopted the foods of their host country, adapting them to fit their dietary laws.
However, the dietary restrictions of Passover the general abstention from grains and leaven- ing agents have led to a need for specific Passover cookery. While those foods could be eaten throughout the year, many are not. In many households they are favorite desserts throughout the year.
Such recipes were previously housed under desserts. While there are a myriad of charoset recipes from far-flung corners of the earth, gen- erally they all include some sort of sweet, sticky mixture of fruit and nuts. Add sugar, cinnamon, pounded almonds, grated lemon rind, mix thoroughly and add a little white wine to hold together. Milwaukee: The Settlement cook book co. The cookbook has offered potato pancakes in its pages since , but no men- tion of Hanukkah. Of course, potato pancakes are a traditional German recipe adopted by Jews for their Hanukkah observance. The only mention of a Jewish holiday other than Passover is the inclusion of Purim Cakes Haman Pockets in later editions.
Comparable and contemporaneous editions of The Joy of Cooking and Fannie Farmer contained no such recipes.
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Instead, they contained menus for Christmas dinner, sections on Christmas cookies, and recipes for Easter bis- cuits. The SCB also included menus for Christmas and Easter dinner, as well as the odd Christmas cookie recipe, but distinguished itself by its inclusion of non-Christian holidays and celebrations of ethnicity.
Keeping Kosher? But here, it is what such cookbooks omit that make them Jewish. These culinary shifts demonstrate, if not a return to tradi- tion, at least a turn toward the recognition of ritual importance and defining Jewish food as kosher, despite the declining number of kosher Jews. Anne L. Bower Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, , 40— Eriksson, No longer could the older gen- eration be trusted; it had moved too far away from Jewish law. Despite the actual decline of kashrut observance among American Jews, the presence of kosher Jewish cookbooks has increased dramatically.
But for Lizzie Kander, to eat like a Jew was to eat as a cosmopolitan. New York: Clarkson Potter, Davis does not include any directly forbidden foods like shellfish or pork but he does insist that everything tastes better with butter. Nostalgically referred to in Jewish memoirs, The Settlement Cook Book enjoys a reputation as an invaluable encyclopedic reference, a culinary standby, named to the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame in But it is not just an artifact of a century gone by. It is not every night I utter these amorous things.
But I was moved by what lay before my eyes. Between covers there could be no better marital aid. Who ever thought one could slip a Jewish mother-in-law behind a plexiglass holder and from there by the side of the stove be led, silently, step-by-printed-step, through a recipe regarded right up there with the formula for the atomic bomb? Very Jewish. Works Cited Abrams, Nathan. Edited by Kathleen LeBesco. Bellin, Mildred Grosberg. The Jewish Cook Book. New York: Bloch publishing company, Edited by Anne L. Bower, 29— Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, Camp, Charles.
The American Folklore Series. Little Rock: August House, Cohen, Steven Martin, and Arnold M. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, Davis, Mitchell. Fiedler, Leslie A. Fowle, Marguerite. Gdula, Steven. New York: Bloomsbury: Distributed to the trade by Macmillan, Grossinger, Jennie Grossinger. The Art of Jewish Cooking. New York: Random House, Grossman, Ruth, and Bob Grossman. The Chinese-Kosher Cookbook. New York: P. The French-Kosher Cookbook. The Italian-Kosher Cookbook. Haley, Andrew P. Herberg, Will. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Louisville, KY, Jass, Stephanie J.
Joselit, Jenna Weissman. New York: Hill and Wang, Kander, Mrs. The Settlement Cook Book. Milwaukee, WI: The Settlement cook book co. The Settlement Cook Book, Comp. Kander, Simon, and Henry Schoenfeld. The Settlement Cook Book Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Bedford, Mass: Applewood Books, Milwaukee: Press of J. New York: Simon and Schuster, Kingsley, Lisa. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. Edited by Susan L. New York: The Jewish Museum, Levenstein, Harvey A. California Studies in Food and Culture. Levitt, Beverly. Lewis, Meredith. Lissak, Riv kah.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Mahany, Barbara. Marcus, Jacob Rader. New York: Ktav Pub. The texts included in this anthology reflect a broad understanding of culture, including high and low, elite and popular, folk and mass. However, the anthology privileges creators, authors, and artists as makers of culture, even as it recognizes the importance of collaboration in cultural production and the significant role of audience responses in creating both culture and Jewishness.
The collection samples an array of examples, chosen as representative, illuminating, unusual, intriguing, influential, or excellent. This composite portrait of Jewish culture in the last decades of the twentieth and the first years of the twenty-first century suggests its mutability, exuberance, diversity, and vigor. What constitutes Jewish culture? This volume deliberately casts a broad net that does not exclude more esoteric authors because it understands the fabric of Jewish culture as composed of interactions of the famous and influential with the more obscure or the merely popular.
A work of Jewish culture is not necessarily visible on the surface, and identification involves interpretation and judgment. For example, the incorporation of contemporary poetry into prayer books can transform personal poems without sacred resonances into a contribution to collective Jewish reflection. The anthology includes some authors and artists addressing Jewish issues, even though much of their work ignores Jewish topics. When a well-known author or artist who might be considered nominally Jewish in terms of personal involvement engages cultural questions of concern to other Jews, he or she helps to make that culture by participating in debates.
This choice is not arbitrary since this is an anthology of Jewish civilization and culture, not of Judaism as culture. Tensions between center and periphery, Israel and Diaspora, surface in this anthology, reflecting political, religious, social, and cultural conflicts that extend beyond Zionist ideological debates. The United States, home of the largest Jewish community in the world, increasingly produced Jewish cultural alternatives to Israel evident in the preponderance of Israeli and American work that is anthologized.
Nevertheless, the vigor of Israeli cultural creativity and the assertiveness of its scholarly community also register in this volume. The Yom Kippur War of October provoked a collective trauma in Israel that challenged assumptions regarding the strength of Jewish culture that reverberated throughout the Jewish world. The war started with a surprise invasion of Egyptian forces into the Sinai Peninsula, which Israel had captured in the Six Day War of The war both initiated and hastened previous processes of change whose ramifications registered in all segments of Israeli culture.
No longer viewed as heroic as imagined in the years after the Six Day War, Jews assessed themselves again as victims. With the deconstruction of Israeli heroism, the Sabra, the native-born Israeli considered the opposite of the passive Diaspora Jew, lost his hegemony. In addition, these changes opened the way for recognition of such marginalized groups within Israeli society as immigrants especially from North Africa and Holocaust survivors. Other minorities, including religious Jews and Jewish women, also acquired increased influence.
The war similarly facilitated acceptance of multiple definitions of Zionism. By , changes in the map of Jews living in communities in North Africa and the Middle East became increasingly evident. After centuries of life in North African and Middle Eastern countries, Mizrahi Jewish ethnic and religious identity lost its indigenous attributes as Jews from those regions dispersed among other Jewish societies.
In most Islamic countries, including Algeria, Iraq, and Morocco, once-flourishing Jewish communities became remnants of their historic presences, leaving just Iran and Turkey with sizable numbers of Jews. A minor Jewish presence endured in Yemen, Egypt, and Tunisia. Emigration of Jews from these countries gradually stabilized.
Mizrahi immigrants struggled to shape a new identity in these places while maintaining ties with fellow immigrants in Israel. Their presence in Israel made them a majority of the Jewish population until the immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union in the s. For Jews, these political and cultural changes corresponded to a shift in focus toward new forms of Jewish creativity, initially nourished in the framework of protest and now increasingly supported by established Jewish organizations. Identity politics flourished in the United States as minority groups asserted their rights, including African Americans, Latinos, white ethnics, women, and gays and lesbians.
Indeed, multiplicity came to characterize American Jewish cultural identity, reflected in an explosion of first-person narratives that mediated and represented what it meant to be an American Jew.
Most significantly, feminism took hold among American Jews, both those who were committed to the American movement and those who sought to stimulate change in Jewish society. In the first woman rabbi, Sally Priesand, received her rabbinical degree from Hebrew Union College, the Reform seminary; two years later, Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, the first Reconstructionist woman rabbi, was ordained the new Reconstructionist Rabbinical College had admitted its first woman candidate in , one year after its founding.
In Europe, marked the initial year of a major increase in Russian Jewish emigration numbers under the rubric of family reunification. Most initially chose to settle in Israel; later in the decade the United States became a popular destination. In the United States, the movement to free Soviet Jewry encouraged and supported refuseniks who resisted Soviet oppression. Although in the s only relatively small numbers of the more than two million Russian Jews were able to leave, their departure set a precedent that led to a mass emigration of hundreds of thousands of Jews in the late s and after the collapse of the USSR in This immigration would bring Jews from the Soviet Union into conversation and debate with Israeli and American Jews on matters of style and substance.
Jews from the former Soviet Union established their own cultural activities, especially in Israel where they made up a significant percentage of the entire population. In the United States, they rapidly learned English. Both responses to emigration enriched many aspects of Jewish culture. Emigration accompanied cultural and religious revival in the Soviet Union. Underground Hebrew classes, as well as religious and cultural seminars, attracted thousands of people, most of whom considered emigration. These forms of activity, however, were confined to large cities where it was easier to hide from police surveillance.
In smaller places, synagogues often served as social clubs for mostly elderly congregants, offering them moral support and a sense of solidarity. As a result, French Jewish culture began a process of expansion and diversification. Leading Jewish thinkers and activists began to reconsider their earlier radical left-wing philosophies. Eventually they propounded new theories of moral responsibility that drew upon traditional Jewish sources as well as the Holocaust.
In South America, political destabilization accelerated in , marked by increasing violence against many members of the middle class, including Jews. Jewish university students, outspoken journalists, and prosperous families discovered their lives thrown into disarray and danger by military regimes. In Chile, Salvador Allende was overthrown on 11 September , ending hopes for a socialist government.
Violent regimes battled guerrilla movements. Jewish communities, especially in large cities such as Buenos Aires, faced uncertainty and insecurity. This situation prompted increased immigration to Israel. Throughout most of the English-speaking world—in Great Britain, Canada, South Africa, and Australia—the year proved to be less significant in demarcating shifts in mentality, politics, or social trends. Continuities characterized these countries, although the growing agitation for separation of the province of Quebec from Canada provoked Jewish unease and stimulated many young Jews to leave Montreal for Toronto or the United States.
Jews who remained in South Africa found themselves on both sides of the divide, as supporters of revolution and of the status quo. Beginning in , Jewish culture increasingly followed paths charted initially by Yiddish literature in the preceding century. Ideas and traditions crossed boundaries of place and nation-states. Indeed, it would often be more appropriate to speak of transnational Jewish cultures, given the extensive migrations occurring during these decades.
Heterogeneity characterized these cultures, with many competing narratives produced by diverse Jewish segments of societies. These coexisting narratives often clashed, producing counter narratives and efforts to marginalize groups with their stories. However, Jews living in Israel and the United States came to dominate Jewish culture in the final decades of the twentieth century. The voices of Jewish women acquired prominence and influence, contributing to the complexity of Jewish culture.
Searches for identity and origins took on a new urgency in these years, stimulating alternative ways of thinking about history and the past. Gradual waning of the Israeli ideal of the new Hebrew man and some ideologies of nationalism and national power prompted a search for tradition as well as a new messianism. Turning toward the past forced many Jews to confront the Holocaust again and attempt to decipher its meanings and lessons for themselves as individuals and as a collectivity.
Young Jews also participated in a wider pursuit of spirituality that animated many youth throughout the world. Greater acceptance of Jews as individuals and declining antisemitism promoted active involvement by Jews in shaping American culture. Jews participated not only as Americans but also as Jews, finding broad interest in Jewish life and religion among diverse Americans. In Israel, these trends found expression in an embrace of individualistic, universal themes that had started during the s. Yehoshua, David Grossman, and Meir Shalev, joined the ranks of world literature through widespread translation of their work.
At the same time, nationalism revived in Israel along with the Zionist ideology of settling the land, promoted by secular nationalists and religious groups imbued with messianic fervor to reclaim sacred territory. However, Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and an inability of Israel and the Palestinians to come to an agreement also accompanied the rise of anti-Zionism, especially in Europe and South America.
Simultaneously, a trend to deny the facts of the Holocaust gained adherents throughout the world. Seeking to discredit the State of Israel, the deniers pressed claims that the Holocaust did not occur and thus that Israel had no moral right to exist. Simultaneously, Israeli Jews began to articulate their own critique of Zionism. Genres of Jewish creativity expanded in the late twentieth century, influenced by historical events and social changes.
Film, an industry in which Jews had worked for decades, increasingly explored issues of importance to Jews and pictured Jews as characters. Jews adapted many of these new media, including Web sites, advertising, cartoons, and comics, not to mention collectibles, to express Jewish ideas and influence Jews. All became sites of Jewish creativity and imagination. Of course, many of these forms had existed in earlier eras, but now their profusion, mass production, and consumption marked the end of the twentieth century as a heyday of commercial Jewish culture.
Yet even as such new cultural forms appeared, traditional modes of Jewish creativity endured. Poetry and prose, religious writing and philosophy, as well as political and social thought served as vehicles of Jewish interpretation of life and its meanings. Music, long a genre of Jewish expression, expanded as it intersected with popular culture, folk culture, and technological culture. Performance and visual arts represented areas in which Jews experimented both with new genres as well as continued past practices.
Such multiplicity of genres suggests expansive and heterogeneous Jewish cultures relatively unconstrained and open to various influences. Jews have an exceptionally long history of production of poetry. However, Israeli poetry expressed novel perspectives more rapidly than other genres, responding to events and new moods in the country.
Poets were among the first to react to the debacle of the Yom Kippur War with elegies. Poetry was also the first genre to register reactions to the first Lebanon War in An unprecedented wave of poetry contesting the war arose, sending shocks throughout Israeli culture that provoked responses. Both of these poets, who wrote protest poetry during the s, expressly had distanced themselves from politics when they began their literary career during the s.
As Israeli society became more open to other voices, it began to listen to those of Holocaust survivors and of their children, the second generation. A growing audience heard the words of such poets as Dan Pagis. Even when poets did not address immediate political events, they gave voice to significant social and cultural changes. Along with memories of the Holocaust, other narratives also found expression in Israeli poetry. Poets sought to speak about tradition and plumbed it for meaning that would interpret contemporary society.
Women increasingly were heard.
They revolted against the male hegemony that had characterized earlier decades. Feminism appeared in Israel ten years after it had arisen in the United States; the delay reflected difficulties finding a place within a society where the military was so important and pervasive. Yet women boldly addressed issues of war and peace as well as themes of gender and transmission of culture.
Most prominent among feminist poets, Yona Wallach pioneered in writing provocative poems that refused to conform to contemporary norms. Poetry in the United States and other parts of the Jewish world less often took immediate events as a concern since poets wrote for more diffuse audiences. Although themes of war and peace pervade Jewish poetry, they often reflect apprehension about the enduring effects of trauma, especially the horrors of the Holocaust. Cognitive dissonance resulted when the German language was used to write about the murder of Jews; many were offended when the language of the murderers was employed to express the anguish and anger of the victims.
By contrast, writing in Yiddish about the Holocaust invoked a measure of intimacy as well as collective grief. A poet such as Irena Klepfisz, whose poetic language juxtaposed Yiddish and English, produced a hybridity that reflected her diasporic experience: as a child of the Holocaust and a survivor, emigrant from Poland to the United States via several years in Sweden, she refused to blend her diverse experiences into a unified whole as earlier American Jewish writers had done. By contrast, a poet such as John Hollander recognized the inherent syncretism of just writing in an English shaped by the King James translation of the Old Testament.
Yet at the same time poets understood that American Jewish culture itself emerged from the interstices and interactions of cultures that surrounded it. Writing in English, poets sought to connect their own immediate personal experiences with the Holocaust. In the United States, where feminism flourished, poets struggled to reclaim a historical past and to imagine a tradition of Jewish women. Taking on the voices of those who had been silenced, poets articulated not only their personal feelings but also those with whom they identified, thus expanding the range of Jewish references.
Some of the women remained nameless, defined only by their role as mothers, grandmothers, or daughters. Others possessed names that recalled simultaneously betrayal and heroism. Yet even as the poet Adrienne Rich claimed the executed Ethel Rosenberg as a feminist icon, she also questioned her own desires and efforts to pursue radical politics. Jewish history resisted feminists as they struggled to refashion it. Rich was not alone in bringing her politics to her poetry. The transfer of political power in Israel in to the Likud Party led by Menachem Begin released ethnic antagonisms that had been suppressed, especially the anger of Mizrahi Jews against the long-standing Ashkenazi establishment.
These feelings bubbled up to the surface, finding expression in poems that sought connection to long dormant ethnic roots. With a change of elites came a change of a sense of place. Development towns replaced kibbutzim as sites of cultural imagination. Nostalgic poems about transit camps reclaimed those experiences and reformulated them as part of Israeli culture. The years following the Yom Kippur War enhanced two complementary directions in Israeli fiction.
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On the one hand, nostalgic traditions that had emerged after the Six Day War continued to flourish. Here the maturation of the individual overlaps with and strengthens the development of the nation. In this way the individual is linked to the national narrative. By contrast, apocalyptic novels delineated a horrifying future that deconstructed the Zionist narrative, changing it from a story moving from destruction to redemption to one that returns to destruction. The Road to Ein Harod by Amos Kenan exemplifies this trend, presenting a terrifying vision of Israeli society torn by internal wars.
The kibbutz, Ein Harod, a site of nostalgia, remains the last bastion of a utopian vision. Many other novels do not imagine an apocalypse but in revisiting the past they portray a disintegrating world. Thus they undercut nostalgic fiction by subverting the world of youth and, by extension, the nation. As with poetry, opening Israeli society to alternative points of view stimulated the writing of fiction that explored the diasporic world and its Jewish traditions. Both Ashkenazi and Mizrahi writers turned back to their respective pasts and summoned them into contemporary consciousness.
These new approaches returned to the Diaspora and, by extension, to Zionist roots. The transfer of political power in and the first war in Lebanon enhanced a process of shattering the stability of Israeli identity and produced a more pluralistic canon. Instead of one recognizing just center and community, prose writers initiated a search for other options to stabilize identity. It also allowed non-Hebrew speakers who wrote in Yiddish, including Yossl Birstein, to be accepted in translation. Mizrahi protagonists appeared in diverse novels, including those written by Ashkenazi authors.
Ethnic novels no longer only referred to Mizrahi Jews but also expanded to include stories of German Jews. In the most recent period, identity categories have become so fluid that it is difficult to apply any labels to characters. As writers have turned away from politics, they have come to focus on the family, bringing their writing closer to that of Diaspora Jewish novelists. Immigration has often occupied center stage for Jewish writers in English. It has served as a major vehicle to explore Jewish questions of identity and transmission of culture. These years saw the death of several major American Jewish writers, most notably Bernard Malamud and Saul Bellow , whose work drew upon immigrant experiences of marginality and transformation.
Russian Jewish immigration contributed significantly to this revival, as did the writings of native-born American Jews. Together they have amplified and complicated a debate regarding Jewish American identity in part by making it the subject of their literature. Jewishness came to lodge at intersections, within interactions. It has appeared through dialogue and consciousness. The explosion of memoir writing among American Jews has informed literary representations of identity. Both individual and collective have been understood as composed of multiple identifications that disrupt an earlier narrative of assimilation and Americanization.
Yet Roth always managed to write novels that spoke simultaneously to American and Jewish audiences. Writers drawing upon Sephardi backgrounds described multiple layers of identities through time and space. In his account of three generations of family life in Alexandria, Out of Egypt , there is only a constant sense of simultaneous displacements.
Holocaust memoirs and fiction blended genres of Jewish and American writing, intersecting with such themes as memory, sexuality, family, and ritual. Many fiction writers, unlike the memoir authors, chose not to recreate experiences of the Shoah but rather to deal with the world of survivors.
Another cluster of writers, including Melvin Bukiet and Thane Rosenbaum, wrote what might be considered Holocaust-inflected fiction that resonated with consciousness of the Holocaust, but these writers approached it indirectly. Their task, Emily Budick has argued, in part seemed to be to craft a Jewish American literary tradition distinct from other American and ethnic writing as well as Jewish literature written in other languages. Family sagas and detective fiction, for example, often explored similar Jewish themes despite their varied forms.
Women writers particularly embedded reverberations of the Holocaust in stories also marked by feminism and civil rights politics. Religious Jews appeared as characters in all forms of prose, from historical novels to mysteries. Unlike earlier, often negative images of Orthodox Jews, these portraits were diverse, complicated, and at times humorous.
In fact, a new era of Jewish American writing appeared that explored religious issues, traditional texts, and theological questions. Such writers as Tova Reich, Rebecca Goldstein, and Nathan Englander explored tensions between secularism and Jewish religious traditionalism. Characters that people narratives of the s appear comfortable with traditional Jewish life even if they push against its restrictions. Although feminism swept across the world, it registered first in the United States and most forcefully in prose. Jewish women writers attacked negative stereotypes of Jewish women, including the overbearing Jewish mother and the self-indulgent Jewish daughter, often nicknamed the Jewish American Princess JAP.
Yet Jewish writers also contested the celebration of a new Jewish womanhood. Prose fiction often included explorations of gendered relationships and exploitation of children by parents within the hothouse of the Jewish family. Sexuality itself became a subject of Jewish writing.
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Writers in South America shared some common themes with Jewish writers in the United States, including an interest in immigration and acculturation and the impact of the Holocaust experienced from a distance. But they also participated in the turn to magical realism that swept the continent. Issues of Jewish identity in multicultural societies such as Brazil and Argentina registered in debates about defining Jewish writing when it did not directly reference Jewish traditions or themes.
Since the late s, controversy has raged over the degree to which Clarice Lispector, a Brazilian novelist and short-story writer, could be considered a Jewish writer. Since , Jewish writers have been fixtures in Latin American literature, achieving previously unimagined recognition and acceptance. Experiences of living as a religious and cultural minority in predominantly Catholic societies achieved centrality in their work.
The children and grandchildren of Yiddish-speaking immigrants from Eastern Europe to Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, and other countries have produced a plethora of prose fiction in addition to memoirs, plays, and poetry. In Argentina, the country with the largest concentration of Jews in the southern hemisphere, the trauma of the terrorist bombings—first of the Israeli Embassy in and then of the Jewish Community Center, known as AMIA, in , which killed more than eighty people—amplified their voices.
Despite the pressures of these traumatic events, contemporary affairs did not preoccupy Argentinean Jewish authors. Other important topics for Latin American Jewish writers include Zionism and a connection with the State of Israel, as well as issues of political repression, the Holocaust, exile, and loyalty to a homeland, a language, and a shared past. In Mexico, a quartet of women writers has written about Sephardi life, mysticism, and conversos in the colonial period.
The scholar and writer Ilan Stavans has helped to internationalize Jewish—Latin American writing, drawing connections across previously firm boundaries. The year marked the five-hundredth anniversary of the expulsion of the Jews from the Iberian Peninsula. Worldwide attention to the event helped to raise Jewish consciousness regarding the significance of Sephardi and Mizrahi identity.
Hegemonic Ashkenazi influence, the result of massive immigration from the Pale of Settlement to North America at the end of the nineteenth century and in the first third of the twentieth, began to crumble. The dawn of the age of multiculturalism in the United States, and the maturity of the Mizrahi community in France, Turkey, England, Greece, Canada, and Latin America, have made space for an array of new Sephardi voices whose progenitors were not seen immediately after the Yom Kippur War.
In such major Western languages as English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese, novelists and memoir writers have published books exploring continuities with Spanish Jewry. Yehoshua has used fiction to meditate on the Sephardi and Mizrahi genealogical trees and the way they insert themselves in contemporary Israeli society. For years Sephardi literature was considered tangential to Jewish culture.
But the new trend has left a deep mark and in so doing, has renewed a global Jewish identity. Issues of oppression dominated Jewish fiction in countries with histories of persecution and racism such as Germany and South Africa. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in and the apartheid government in , Jewish writers increasingly felt compelled to explore questions of memory and responsibility in their past and their relationship to Jewishness.
In these fictions, repressed emotions returned to haunt protagonists years after the events occurred. Both Elfriede Jelinek and Nadine Gordimer wrote novels that brought acclaim to their countries and inspired their countrymen to see these authors as representative literary figures, not as Jewish writers. Displacement and persecution, long a staple of Jewish family sagas, now appeared typical of an entire generation. The life story of survivors of atrocities, of oppression and persecution, resonated beyond Jewish boundaries. Jewish writing reemerged as a constitutive element of European culture as the reality of Europe as both a space and a concept took shape through the political and economic changes wrought through the European Union.
Whereas Jewish themes in literature and art were not officially prohibited in the Soviet Union, state-controlled publishers, editors, theater directors, and art curators certainly did not welcome these topics. Each work that dared to challenge that unspoken taboo was received with great interest. The Moscow Yiddish monthly magazine Sovietish heymland Soviet Homeland turned militantly anti-Israel, following the general ideological trend in these years.
Although some of its best contributors emigrated or died, as did many of its readers, it published valuable works of fiction, poetry, and scholarship until it folded in The editor in chief, Aron Vergelis, offered the pages of his magazine to young contributors and tried to promote Yiddish culture in Russian. Jewish history, religion, antisemitism, and emigration became popular themes that could attract more readers and foreign sponsors. Mainstream Russian media and the publishing industry demonstrated considerable interest in various aspects of Jewish culture, introducing a wide Russian audience to works by Israeli, American, and Russian Jewish authors.
In Israel, Russian immigrants produced a lively and multifaceted Russian culture. The postmodern emphasis on subjectivity stimulated a turn to memoir writing among Jews throughout the world. Interest in the experience of minorities fueled a willingness of many writers to write in the first person. Often their work transgressed boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, politics and autobiography. This new style of collage was read as expressive not only of individual subjectivity but also of collective experience.
Yet personal truths were often imagined and shaped by literary demands. The hunger for such accounts produced occasional spectacular frauds, such as the false memoir by Binjamin Wilkomirski on experiences of a childhood survivor of the Holocaust. Other writers in diverse languages specifically adopted the voices of their parents, writing their memoirs through an imagined intimacy.
It is as if the individual story is incomplete and can be known only through other family members. Among English-speaking Jews throughout the world, political and personal writing, especially in the form of memoirs, experienced a boom. Sometimes the intersection of the personal and political brought extended power to first-person accounts. Although feminism initially argued that the personal was political, Jewish writing in English included points of view ranging from neo-Conservative through radical lesbian.
At times, Jewish versions of universal experiences, including coming of age, migration, dislocation, and death, spoke to broad audiences who sought ways, in specific accounts, to understand contemporary society. At other times Jewish experiences of extreme suffering, as in Holocaust memoirs, tried to make the inaccessible understandable. Publishers have flocked to publish books catering to children of all ages, from picture books for young children who cannot read, to storybooks for school-age children, to an entire new genre of young adult volumes.
Jewish themes, usually biblical or holiday-based or historical, focusing on immigration or the Holocaust, attracted audiences beyond Jews in the United States. Translations of classic American stories into Yiddish, as well as translations of Hebrew books into English, brokered cross-cultural exchange. In Israel, publishing policy, even of the publishing houses of the labor parties, reflected a commercial basis in its broadest sense.
Books were chosen for publication either because they were believed to be valuable, or saleable, or both. The phenomenon of crossover, blurring distinctions between popular and elite modes of culture, flourished in music, another genre with a rich and extensive Jewish history. In the United States, Jewish music became a growth industry, with more than 2, recordings available and some new releases each year.
Within Israel, cosmopolitan trends and Mizrahi songs conquered rock and popular music alongside a strong continuing practice of gathering to sing typical Israeli songs. Many poems drawn from Israeli literature were set to music as lyrics to popular songs. In the United States, klezmer moved to the top of popular Jewish music charts, viewed by many in the music industry as a category of world music. The rediscovery and reinvention of klezmer drew sustenance from its position as a representative expression of Ashkenazi Yiddish culture and perceptions that it dissented from Zionism, reclaiming an elusive Diaspora consciousness.
Enthusiasm for klezmer and its success in the s stimulated the growth of alternative Jewish musics; it inspired singers and musicians of Ladino music to seek to emulate klezmer. In Europe, klezmer catalyzed many non-Jewish musicians to adopt the style, and large klezmer festivals flourished there. Israeli singers occasionally conquered the continent through victories in Eurovision competitions. As recognizably and identifiably Jewish music attracted attention and crowds, secular popular artists reciprocated, referencing their own Jewish identity in their music with increasing frequency.
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John Zorn, who began his career as a member of the Lounge Lizards, turned to new Jewish music as a composer, performer, and producer, even developing an alternative site in downtown Manhattan for concerts. At the end of the twentieth century, rap music, often produced by Jews, attracted Jewish performers. Crossover possibilities appeared as well in synagogue compositions that employed techniques associated with folk, popular, rock, and classical modes. Men and women affiliated with all forms of Jewish religious life—Orthodox, Hasidic, renewal, Reform, and Conservative—participated in making Jewish music.
Sometimes singers and composers discovered audiences in concert halls and on stage and then were adopted by congregations. At other times, the reverse occurred. Feminism made its mark in hazzanut as women entered the ranks of cantors. Hasidic music similarly went mainstream through recordings, especially of the popular Shlomo Carlebach. He moved liturgical music out of the synagogue and into such venues as nightclubs and concert halls, using music to connect Jews to Jewish religion.
Major Jewish composers, such as Leonard Bernstein, incorporated Jewish themes into classical pieces, as the Yvarekhekha within his Concerto for Orchestra But he also wrote a Requiem as well as a Kaddish, exploring both Christian and Jewish modes of musical expression to memorialize the dead. Among a generation of composers associated with minimalism, Steve Reich consistently explored issues that related to his Jewish identity, from echoes of the Holocaust in his Different Trains , to an explicit setting of psalms, Tehillim , to the shared heritage of Muslims and Jews, The Cave , the latter in collaboration with his wife, Beryl Korot, a video artist.
His music embraced not only Western-style classical composition but also vernacular and non-Western harmonies and rhythms. His distinctive music blends classical, klezmer, liturgical Jewish music, and tango, reflecting his personal odyssey. Rock music proved particularly amenable to national variations. Although developed and marketed around the globe by the United States, as Nissim Calderon observes in The Second Day: Rock-Texts and Poetry in Israel — , wherever indigenous performers adopted it, they modified its attributes.
Book awards: National Jewish Book Award
The rocker created a persona, someone who wrote both lyrics and music, as well as performed them. In Israel after the first Lebanon War, rock provided a vehicle to emphasize individualism and criticism of government policies. Rock also expressed a plurality of cultures within Israel, with bands blending Moroccan and Russian, or Middle Eastern and Ethiopian music.
Recently many religious elements have been incorporated into it. In the United States, Orthodox rock bands have attracted substantial crowds, bringing a kind of kosher popular music to young people. In France, with a wave of religious revival, rock stars have used their music to proclaim their Jewish identity. As was the case with rock music, movies extended their reach around the globe.
Increasingly, the United States has dominated motion picture production. But in the years since Jewish directors have used film as a potent agent of self-expression, including autobiography. They have engaged such issues as identity, commenting on Jewish—non-Jewish relations and the process of forming collective memory.
In addition, they have explored the value of tradition in a rapidly changing contemporary society and relationships of Jews with other ethnic and minority groups. Digital technology, which has allowed for low-budget productions, has encouraged more first-person documentaries. In these movies, filmmakers have seized the opportunity to examine personal histories, thus enhancing the creation of many alternative Jewish memories. Its tough confrontation between father and son dramatically exposes the contrasting perspectives of two generations of American Jews.
A great interest in Jewish cinema has accompanied the flourishing of this industry and has led to the rise of Jewish film festivals, film archives, and a raft of scholarship on the subject. Starting in the late s, a cluster of Jewish filmmakers, including Woody Allen, Paul Mazursky, Barry Levinson, Mel Brooks, Sidney Lumet, and Steven Spielberg, emerged on the scene with movies that featured semi-autobiographical issues. Questions of faith, identity, social acceptance, and occasionally childhood experiences appeared on screen, often inflected by nostalgia.
Jewishness served as a prism to reflect upon universal concerns, illuminating both. Filmmakers deftly identified Jewish attributes with American settings, melding American and Jewish. Comedy particularly provided a vehicle to portray inner insecurities of Jews as well as to lampoon and mock non-Jewish culture. Jewish filmmakers became more assertive about their identity and the social position of Jews in the United States.
That movie dramatized a love story between a Jewish radical woman from the working class and an upper-crust Protestant man as it nostalgically revisited the romantic left-wing communism of the s and its postwar repression. In Western Europe the political climate of democracy and capitalism similarly encouraged Jews to explore questions of identity and dialogue with surrounding cultures. Films have been instrumental in establishing the central place of the Holocaust in popular consciousness. These American movies attempted to reconstruct the events of the mass murder of European Jews using melodrama and often succeeded in awakening a new generation to the reality of the Holocaust.
In the s and s, the Holocaust also was a dominant subject in the Academy Awards for best documentary, ensuring that its historical dimensions received wide recognition. These documentaries featured such subjects as hidden children e. In addition, films on the Shoah regularly won the prize for best foreign film, bringing European perspectives on the Jewish catastrophe to American audiences. European filmmakers tended to focus on individual relationships at the margins of the central experience of death.
Eschewing both approaches characteristic of American and European fiction film, Claude Lanzmann tried in Shoah to tell the story of the impossibility of conveying the story of the Holocaust itself. He placed screens between viewers and events, deliberately limiting what was seen to contemporary landscapes. Israeli cinema responded to the Shoah largely by focusing on survivors.
In the years after , Israeli films moved away from previous portraits of survivors that had emphasized their need to adapt and change to resemble Sabras. Instead, movies imagined the Israeli—survivor encounter as one requiring the former to come to terms with survivors and to recognize the Jewishness that both shared.