Chaim Grade’s Eternal Argument

The intimate, internal quarrel shows Jews doing what they have always done—but while they’re standing among people who have been dedicated to their murder.

A Talmud Torah in Russia in 1937. Wikipedia.

A Talmud Torah in Russia in 1937. Wikipedia.

Ruth R. Wisse
response
Jan. 20 2021
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, is out from Wicked Son Press.

A people’s culture is made up not of the entire body of literature it has produced but of that part of its legacy that is being continually absorbed by later generations. For centuries, Jews have masterfully transmitted the Hebrew Bible and Talmud, have incorporated poems into the liturgy, and have selectively studied philosophic and esoteric texts. But have most modern Jews found a way of incorporating the best of modern Jewish writing into their cultural bloodstream?

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More about: Arts & Culture, Chaim Grade, Yiddish