A Popular American Yiddish Novel about a Modern Woman’s Personal “Battle against Free Love”

While the curious English-language reader can find some of the great works of Yiddish literature available in translation, the vast corpus of popular fiction remains untranslated. Jessica Kirzane has changed this with her recent rendering into English of Miriam Karpilove’s Diary of a Lonely Girl: The Battle against Free Love—first published serially from 1916 to 1918. In her review, Dara Horn writes

Karpilove was the rare woman who was commercially successful enough to make a living as a Yiddish writer, publishing hundreds of stories, novels, and plays. Like network TV fare, Karpilove’s works expressed a zeitgeist while very gently nudging its boundaries, reassuring her audience that their sympathies are in the right place.

In the case of Diary of a Lonely Girl, the zeitgeist was the environment of “free love” (read: extramarital sex) among New York’s “free-thinking” (read: secular and politically radical) young Jewish men, and the contradiction between their self-serving desires and a social setting where virginity was still paramount to young women’s futures. . . . Diary of a Lonely Girl is an intimate look at this challenging reality. It consists of its unnamed single-girl heroine’s romantic encounters with several men, each of whom attempts to convince her to get into bed with him as she resorts to increasingly desperate hijinks to Just Say No.

But as I read Karpilove’s decidedly mass-market novel, I found myself touched by how profoundly and unselfconsciously Jewish this book is, as expressed in the many, many scenes and details.

Sitting alone in her room on a Saturday evening, Karpilove’s “secular” heroine recalls Sabbaths in the old country, and reflects for an entire chapter on how she has “felt the loneliness of Shabbos nights [Saturday evening, the Sabbath’s departure] since childhood. It has grown into a chronic sadness, a kind of religious melancholy,” because “my soul would cry out: it did not want to separate from that other soul, the extra soul that only came on Shabbos!”

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Read more at Tablet

More about: American Jewry, Jewish literature, Sexual ethics, Yiddish literature

 

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia