How the Jews’ Most Incisive Critic Became Their Greatest Defender—While Founding Modern Yiddish Literature

April 2 2018

Writing under the pen name Mendele Mokher Seforim (Mendel the bookseller), Sholem Yankev Abramovitsh made his Yiddish-language literary debut in 1864. His first works were biting satires of contemporary Jewish life, inspired by the thinking of the Haskalah, or Jewish enlightenment. But as he matured, and became increasingly aware of the ferocity of anti-Semitism in his native Russia, his criticism of the Jews softened while he redirected his scorn at their oppressors. In a sweeping essay, Ruth Wisse explores this transformation, focusing on Di kliatshe (“The Mare”), which she deems Mendele’s “masterwork.” The novel relates the conversation between the protagonist Isrolik and the titular mare—originally a prince, transformed into her current state by wicked sorcerers and under constant attack by man and dog alike—who is a stand-in for the Jewish people itself. (Free registration required.)

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Anti-Semitism, Arts & Culture, Mendele Mokher Seforim, Russian Jewry, Yiddish literature

The U.S. Peace Plan May Finally Bring about a Palestinian State

Among those most fervently opposed to Israel applying its sovereignty to Jewish areas of the West Bank are members of the hard right, many of whom live in the affected areas. They do so because, under the Trump administration proposal, the extension of sovereignty makes possible the creation of a Palestinian state in the remainder of the territory. Haviv Rettig Gur comments on this irony:

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Annexation, Israel & Zionism