Bastard, Orphan...Jew?; Squirrel Hill; Great Sages
Who are Joey Rosenfeld and his pseudo-Hasidic pranksters, and what does their success have to do with the future of Modern Orthodoxy?
“Houdini created his illusions and handed them down to his brother Hardeen, Hardeen sold them to the Amazing Dunninger, and Dunninger sold them to—my father,” writes Jerry Muller in his review of Adam Begley’s new biography of the great Jewish escape artist.
In the 1950s, Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family books for children told the story of American Jewish acculturation–and pushed the process forward.
Janusz Korczak couldn’t save any of his beloved orphans from the Nazis. Jai Chakrabarti imagines one, and sends him to India. It’s a great premise, but does it work as a novel?
“I wouldn’t turn on my beloved, my sacred husband,” Eva Panić firmly declared. Instead, she chose a brutal Yugoslavian prison–and abandoned her six-year-old daughter. David Grossman transforms their story into a disturbing yet beautiful novel.
Judah Benjamin was a brilliant New Orleans lawyer who became the most important cabinet member in Jefferson Davis’s Confederate government. He was, Senator Benjamin Wade correctly declared, one of the “Israelites with Egyptian principles.”
Rabbi Roland B. Gitelsohn was a pacifist when World War II started. Four years later he was chaplain at the Battle of Iwo Jima. His long-lost memoir has just been published.
Carl Jung said that the great “the Hasidic Rabbi whom they called the Great Maggid” anticipated his entire psychology. He learned that from his Jewish student Erich Neumann, whose Roots of Jewish Consciousness was never published until now.
More than two hundred songs of the pioneers of the Third Aliyah began their lives as Hasidic tunes. But historian David Assaf’s wonderful new book reaches far beyond the Hasidic world in tracing the origins of the heart of the secular Zionist musical repertoire.
In building (or rebuilding) grand houses in France and England Jewish immigrants created, brick by brick, edifices within their countries’ histories. Not all would survive World War II.
Once every seven years, the Torah says, the economic playing field should be leveled, and those trapped in debt should be freed. Even the rabbinic workaround reminds us of the ideal–as I was reminded after my startup foundered in the 2008 financial crisis.