What Is Jewish Literature, Anyway?

When asked what makes a work of fiction qualify as Jewish literature, Philip Roth famously replied that a book is Jewish “if it doesn’t shut up.” Regardless of whether they accept this answer, many readers believe that Jewish literature exists as a meaningful category. Adam Kirsch, in conversation with Abraham Socher, explores the question of what could possibly unite such disparate authors as Susan Sontag, Amos Oz, Franz Kafka, and Cynthia Ozick. Drawing on his recent book on the subject, Kirsch takes a literary tour through time that begins with Kafka and his fellow Hapsburg subject Arthur Schnitzler, through the golden age of American Jewish writers—exemplified by Saul Bellow, Roth, and Ozick—and beyond. (Video, 64 minutes.)

 

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Cynthia Ozick, Franz Kafka, Jewish literature, Saul Bellow

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

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Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform