One of the Greatest Yiddish Satirists Imagines Spinoza in Contemporary Warsaw

July 27 2020

For Yiddish writers of the early 20th century, the Dutch philosopher Benedict Spinoza was a natural hero, who, like themselves, had rejected Jewish tradition in pursuit of broader intellectual horizons, but had never become part of Gentile society. The Yiddish poet Melekh Ravitch produced a cycle of poems based on Spinoza’s Ethics in 1918, and Isaac Bashevis Singer would later create Spinoza-obsessed characters in “The Spinoza of Market Street” and The Family Moskat. But the most biting satire of Jewish Spinoza-mania came from the pen of the brilliant humorist Yoysef Tunkel—known by the pseudonym Der Tunkler (The Dark One)—whose 1927 “Spinoza in Warsaw” imagined the philosopher returning to life and trying to make a living in Jewish literary circles. Herewith, an excerpt from a new translation by Allan Nadler:

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Benedict Spinoza, Polish Jewry, Satire, Yiddish literature

Why a Government Victory in Southwestern Syria Is Bad News for Israel

Sept. 17 2021

Last week, Russia negotiated a ceasefire between the Syrian government and rebel forces in the city of Daraa, where the initial protests that sparked the uprising against Bashar al-Assad began. The agreement ended a 75-day assault on the city, located near the country’s southwestern border, by Russian, Iranian, and Syrian forces. Jonathan Spyer explains the significance of these events:

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Read more at Jonathan Spyer

More about: Golan Heights, Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war