WHAT JUDAISM AND A LOVE OF JUDAISM IS SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT…. A Beautiful and Better World…
We received a comment that likened this blog site to the “Aryan Nation.” It is not the first of its kind and likely will not be the last.
We were thinking that whomever the idiot was who made that comment has never really read anything about the “Aryan Nation.” For if he had, he would be horrified by the sheer number of anti-Semitic sites praising the burning of Israeli flags by ultra-Orthodox on Purim, the protests against Zionism by radical Chabadniks, the Jihadi style tactics by many ultra-Orthodox sects to justify their brand of anti-Semitism. Our own people are fueling the fire of anti-Semitism and those of you who bash this site for shedding light on the ills of this community, understand little about how we are perceived by others.
Like the Catholic Church’s abhorrent behavior when it comes to molesting children, we are no different. Similar to the radical Islamic views of modesty, there are those amongst us who would sooner see their wives and daughters in burkhas then in jeans. Like the violent Russian Mafia, Chinese Mafia and Italian Mafia, we are no less violent, tactical and calculating. In fact, we collaborate with some of those same criminal elements to feed our own hunger for money, power, prestige and a nonsense notion of “philanthropy.”
We believe that it is only when we shine the brightest light possible on who we are, on our own shortcomings, that we can clean the flaws and fix the blemishes. Have you known a mohel to perform a circumcision in the dark?
Is it not our job, should it not be our collective mission to make this world a better place? Or, do we just amass more wealth than 10 generations of lifetimes can spend, harm more elderly for profit, plunder more resources to feed our own lust for financial gains and allow more children to be molested… in silence, darkness…
We never covered Elie’s Wiesel’s death on July 2nd of this year. We will do so by reblogging someone who wrote a profound article about him.
In the meantime, we thought the below appropriate considering our view of a beautiful Jewish world, whether in English, in Yiddish or in any other language. The Jewish world, if we are to really be the chosen, should be comprised of people who want to make it this world a better place, not for our own sakes but for the sake of those who follow.
Remembering Joseph Landis and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Amy Maude Helfer
In Praise Of Joseph Landis, Yiddish Culture’s Champion At Queens College (CUNY)
Were it not for Queens College professor Joseph Landis, who died January 6, at the age of 95—Isaac Bashevis Singer and his wife, Alma Singer, might never have come to my home for a vegetarian Friday-night dinner of eggplant parmesan casserole. Founder and director of The Jewish-Yiddish Studies Program at Queens College during the 1970s and ’80s, Landis brought the smetene, the crème de la crème, of Yiddish poets, scholars, actors and writers — including Singer — to the students. Following the January 8 intimate gravesite service at the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring’s section of Wellwood Cemetery, in Pinelawn, N.Y., his colleague and friendThomas Bird, professor of Russian and Yiddish in Queens College’s department of European languages and literatures, told me: ”Landis’s tenure can best be described as the ‘Golden Age of Yiddish Studies at Queens.’”
I was among the lucky students during the unforgettable 1973 fall semester, when Landis offered a course titled “The Novels of Isaac Bashevis Singer — With The Author Present.” The course was oversubscribed, with students crowding the walls and sitting on windowsills. We were required to read a Singer novel a week and then have a discussion and a question-and-answer session with the impish author, who opted to sit in a regulation-size classroom chair, facing the students, with Landis behind him at a desk. The week that we read “The Magician of Lublin,” a student, in an attempt to impress Singer, delivered a psychologically infused analysis of the motivation of the novel’s womanizing rogue, Yasha, the magician, and asked Singer what prompted him to develop the character’s persona and actions. Singer smiled, shook his head and, in heavily accented English, told the young man, “I create a caracter and the caracter does vat the caracter vants.” Landis was delighted. It was after this class that I invited Singer — whom I last saw at my father’s funeral, in 1966 (they had known each other in prewar Warsaw) — to dinner at my home.
“Joe’s vision was a warrant, a desire to transmit to the students a vision of a shenere un a besere velt [a more beautiful and better world],” Bird told me a few days after the funeral. “What Uriel Weinreich [author of the Modern English-Yiddish/Yiddish-English Dictionary] did for City College and Columbia University for linguistics, Landis did for Yiddish at Queens College.”
Among Landis’s contributions to the Jewish community at large were the 1970s Sholem Aleichem Festivals that he created, held at Queens College’s concert-size Colden Center. Among the celebrities who attended these musical and dramatic simchas was theater-film-stage star Molly Picon. When she walked down the aisle to get to her seat, she typically received a standing ovation from the adoring crowd. Another highlight was Queens College ‘s president (1971–76), Joseph Murphy, who welcomed festival audiences with “khaverim un fraynd,” comrades and friends, in a resonant Yiddish that he had learned from his Jewish father-in-law. He followed this with several minutes of commentary — in Yiddish — about the college’s Yiddish offerings as well as about the concert program.
In 1973, Landis launched Yiddish: A Quarterly Journal Devoted to Yiddish and Yiddish Literature. His father-in-law, Benjamin Gebiner, also a Queens College professor, was the publication’s managing editor. Contributing editors included Abraham Joshua Heschel, Irving Howe, Maurice Samuel and Singer.
Among the legions of students who passed through the 1970s’ stellar Jewish studies program were Corey Breier and Jeffrey Wiesenfeld. Breier is now president of Yiddish Artists and Friends Actors Club and a member of the board of trustees of the National Yiddish Theatre-Folksbiene. He helped rescue the archives of the Hebrew Actors’ Union (now at YIVO Institute for Jewish Research). Wiesenfeld is chairman of the board of trustees of Folksbiene, with whom I shared the stage in a Queens College production of Abraham Goldfaden’s operetta “Di Makhsheyfe” (“The Witch”). It was directed by Yiddish stage and film diva Miriam Kressyn, who succeeded Yiddish theater grande dame Ida Kaminska as director of Queens’ College’s Yiddish Theatre Program.
Isaac Bashevis Singer | About Isaac Bashevis Singer | American Masters | PBS <!– –>
Isaac Bashevis Singer was one of the great storytellers of the twentieth century. His writing is a unique blend of religious morality and social awareness combined with an investigation of personal desires. Though his work often took the form of parables or tales based on a nineteenth century tradition, he was deeply concerned with the events of his time and the future of his people and their culture.
Isaac Bashevis Singer was born on July 24, 1904 in Radzymin, Poland. His parents were religious Jews and pushed him towards a career as a religious scholar. In 1921 he enrolled in Rabbinical School, but left only two years later to work for a Yiddish literary magazine. Though his rabbinical studies would remain a strong influence on him, he longed to be a part of a literary community. Working as a journalist, translator, and proofreader, Singer began to write short stories on the side. By 1935 he had published his first book, SATAN IN GORAY (1935).
That same year, Singer followed his brother, Isaac Joshua Singer to America. Isaac Joshua Singer is considered one of the major Yiddish writers of the twentieth century, and was the first and greatest literary influence on his younger brother Isaac. In New York, Isaac Bashevis Singer began working for THE JEWISH DAILY FORWARD, a Yiddish newspaper dedicated to issues of interest to its newly immigrated readership. During the 1940s Singer published his work in a number of journals as well as serially in the THE FORWARD. Throughout his career, Singer would continue to be a contributor and supporter of THE FORWARD, which remains in existence today as a weekly .
Throughout the 1940s, Singer’s reputation began to grow among the many Yiddish-speaking immigrants. After World War II and the near destruction of the Yiddish-speaking peoples, Yiddish seemed a dead language. Though Singer had moved to the United States, he believed in the power of his native language and knew that there was still a large audience that longed for new work, work that would address the lives and issues of their his. In 1950 Singer produced his first major work, THE FAMILY MOSKAT—the story of a twentieth century Polish Jewish family before the war. He followed this novel with a series of well-received short stories, including his most famous, “Gimpel, The Fool.”
Though not primarily nostalgic, Singer’s work hearkened back to a former time. The setting for much of the work was his native Poland, and the writing addressed existential and spiritual questions through folk tales and parables. These works caught the attention of a number of American writers including Saul Bellow and Irving Howe, who were greatly responsible for not only translating Singer’s work, but championing it as well. Throughout the 1960s Singer continued to write on questions of personal morality. One of his most famous novels (due to a popular movie remake) was ENEMIES: A LOVE STORY, in which a Holocaust survivor deals with his own desires, complex family relationships, and the loss of faith. Singer also wrote two novels about nineteenth century Polish-Jewish history before returning to more modern topics in the 1970s.
By the 1970s, he had become a major international writer. After World War II there were few Yiddish writers remaining and Singer was not only a vocal proponent of Yiddish writing, but the major figure in Yiddish letters. Throughout the 1970s he wrote dozens of stories that were eventually collected into books, and published in Yiddish and English as well as many other languages. He branched out, writing memoirs and children’s books as well as two other major novels set in the twentieth century, THE PENITENT (1974) and SHOSHA (1978). The same year as his publication of SHOSHA, Singer won the Nobel Prize in literature. For many, this award was bittersweet in that it brought worldwide attention to an important language at the same time it seemed to signal the language’s demise.
After being awarded the Nobel Prize, Singer gained a monumental status among writers throughout the world. He continued to write during the last years of his life, often returning to Polish history which so entranced him throughout his early life. In 1988 he published THE KING OF THE FIELDS and three years later, SCUM, a story of a man living in an early-twentieth-century Polish shtetl. That same year, Isaac Bashevis Singer died at the age of eighty-seven in Surfside, Florida. Incredibly prolific, Singer created an insightful and deep body of work that will forever remain an important part of literary history.