Maurice Sendak’s Jewish Works

With its ornery protagonist and nightmarish monsters, Where the Wild Things Are has become a much-beloved American children’s book, perhaps because it is so different from typical fare. Its author, Maurice Sendak, once commented that he based the monsters on his foreign-seeming Jewish immigrant relatives. He also illustrated multiple books with more explicitly Jewish themes, as Yael Ingel relates:

Maurice was born in 1928, the youngest of three children, to Polish-Jewish immigrant parents. His mother Sarah didn’t speak a word of English when she arrived in the United States on her own at the age of sixteen in the early 1920s, following a terrible quarrel with her mother. His father Philip also arrived alone from Poland.

The first book he illustrated was called Good Shabbos, Everybody, published in 1951 by the United Synagogue Commission on Jewish Education. . . . His parents did not particularly appreciate his work and were even disappointed when he took a job as an illustrator instead of going to university. However, a momentous reconciliation occurred when Sendak was asked to illustrate the stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer, the Nobel Prize-winning writer. This was something his parents could be proud of.

Before starting work on the illustrations for [Singer’s] Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories, Maurice pulled out his parents’ family photo albums from Poland. Inside he found pictures of his father standing next to his tall handsome brothers and women with long hair adorned with flowers. He went through all the albums, selecting some of his father’s relatives and some of his mother’s, and drew them with great precision. His parents burst into tears when they saw the drawings and recognized their relatives. Maurice cried with them.

Read more at The Librarians

More about: Children's books, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Jewish art

Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy