Ruth R. Wisse is a research professor at Harvard and a distinguished senior fellow at the Tikvah Fund. Her most recent book is No Joke: Making Jewish Humor (2013, paperback 2015).
Our resident scholar joins us to talk about her recent essay on the novelist Saul Bellow and to expand on her sense of him as a full-fledged Jewish intellectual.
Six more Mosaic writers share their favorites, featuring shadow strikes, orchards, gleanings, constitutional evolutions and revolutions, serotonin, odd women, and more.
His reputation will fall and rise with his people’s.
The Jewish writer who became America’s most decorated novelist spent his early years prodding the nation’s soul. Then, sensing danger to it, he took up the role of guardian.
What I witnessed in my two decades of teaching at Harvard.
The renowned expert on Yiddish literature stops by to talk everything Tevye, Fiddler, Sholem Aleichem, and more.
Airing the complicity of some American Jews with Soviet criminality is essential to the honor and the reputation of the Jewish people.
At arguably the moment of Harvard’s greatest involvement with Jews and Judaism, new movements in (anti-)intellectual thought started to creep in, too.
From academia to philanthropy to journalism, my experience with Jewish leadership has been by turns discouraging and inspiring.
Contention was so much a part of modern Yiddish culture that, in any study of that culture, it was all but taken for granted.
I expected the women’s movement to evaporate as quickly as it had materialized. It was the worst cultural prediction of my life.
On making one’s way into the “intimidatingly smart” realm of the New York Jewish intellectuals, and the company of I.B. Singer.
For me, living in Israel is a moral imperative. There is no elegant or painless way to describe why, after a year, we left.
Letters, antidotes, eternal lives, outcasts, secret worlds, pogroms, and more.
In the late 1960s, appointments in Jewish studies were springing up in tandem with the “adversarial culture.” But we intended to strengthen the universities, not to trash them.
Ruth R. Wisse discovers her husband and her subject.
With the relaxation of Catholic influence in Quebec, local Jewish culture began to come of age and flourish.
We were invited to join in the school’s prayers and hymns, but our grateful acquiescence also implied there was something illicit or shameful about our Jewishness.
And come to differing conclusions about the obligations of collective living.
Father brought us out of bondage, but Mother decided where we were to settle and how we were to live.
It wasn’t easy for an entire Jewish family to escape Eastern Europe in the mid-20th century. Ruth Wisse’s did.
Spy games, catch-67s, lionesses, smugglers, patriots, setting suns, and more.
In brilliantly charting the psychological effects of anti-Semitism on both its perpetrators and its victims, a newly translated 1934 novel outdoes even such master analysts as Freud and Proust.
Friends, but never close, our paths intersected and then diverged, until this past September, when I connected with Leonard for the last time.
Poland offered Jews some of the best conditions they ever experienced in exile—until it didn’t. How are Poles dealing with that history today?
American readers might consider the flight of French Jewry to be as foreign as foie gras. But there are warnings to be heeded even by them.
Memories of the day, twenty-two years ago, when the Oslo Accords were signed—and of the price Israel paid for that “terrible mistake.”
Responsibility for American universities’ failure to confront anti-Semitism rests with administrators and faculty.
Anti-Semitism on American college campuses is rising—and worsening. Where does it come from, and can it be stopped?
A stale New Yorker quiz prompts stale accusations of anti-Semitism. More interesting is the trope of the canine Jew.
What drove the great writer to employ a “harem” of translators? A new film tells much, but not all.
What does it mean to be “pro-Israel” on campus today? A new novel tells the tale.
Fifty years on, no work by or about Jews has won American hearts so thoroughly. So what’s my problem?
Two acclaimed new books about Israel betray a disquieting lack of moral confidence in their subject and its story
Dear Hillel: Don’t you think that Israel needs American Jews to help it withstand the campaigns of hate it faces?