Saul Bellow’s Literary Response to American Jewish Passivity during the Holocaust

Ruth R. Wisse
pick
Oct. 8 2018
About Ruth

Ruth R. Wisse is a Mosaic columnist, professor emerita of Yiddish and comparative literatures at Harvard and a distinguished senior fellow at the Tikvah Fund. Her memoir Free as a Jew: a Personal Memoir of National Self-Liberation, chapters of which appeared in Mosaic in somewhat different form, will be published in September.

In his 1989 novella The Bellarosa Connection, Saul Bellow tells the story of the (fictional) protagonist Fonstein, who escaped Hitler’s Europe with the help of the (entirely nonfictional) Jewish impresario “Broadway Billy” Rose. The novella focuses not so much on the escape itself as on the vain efforts of Fonstein and his wife to connect with, and thank, his seemingly indifferent savior. The true story of Rose, his rise to fame, and his vigorous efforts to rescue Jews from the Holocaust is the subject of Mark Cohen’s recent biography, Not Bad for Delancey Street. Reflecting on both books, Ruth R. Wisse addresses what may be the most troubling question in 20th-century American Jewish history:

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: American Jewish History, Broadway, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Saul Bellow

How the U.S. Can Get Smart about Promoting Democracy and Human Rights in the Middle East

Sept. 27 2021

Considering the current state of the region and the policy mistakes of the recent past, David Pollock and Robert Satloff outline a strategy that is “both virtuous and realistic” for defending human rights and encouraging democratization in a region plagued by autocracy, chaos, and brutality. They argue that “in the long run, more democratic, tolerant, and inclusive governments are likely to be better at defending themselves, and more reliable and effective security partners for the United States.”

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Arab democracy, Human Rights, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy