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Jewish-American Literature: A Survey Drama: Elmer Rice: the adding machine Lillian Hellman: the Children’s Hour

Cliford Odets: Waiting for Lefty, a very controversial play about the labour union, also deals with communism, not a very popular topic in America Arthur Miller: Death of a salesman, very popular and known American playwright. Didn’t write about Jewish topics Joseph Stein: Fiddler on the roof, not really a play as such, it is actually a musical David Mamet: Glengarry Glenn Ross, also wrote a lot of film scripts Tony Kushner: Angels in America, about a gay couple in New York.

Jewish americans also had a lot of influence in Hollywood, e.g. The Warner Brothers, etc. Why is there a Jewish presence in America in the first place? For that we have to go back +/- 300 years. In that time, a lot of religious persecution was going on. In 1654 the first 23 Jews arrived in America, (New Amsterdam). They originated from Spain  The Netherlands  Dutch colony in Brazil (there they were prosecuted by the Portuguese inquisition)  Dutch colony in New Amsterdam. In 1700: population: less than 250 1881-1914: population rose to over 2.5 million, mostly Russian and Eastern European Jews who had fled the regime of Tsar Alexander II - There they lived in Pales of Settlement, called shtetl, small villages where they were allowed to live. (see photographs taken just before the 2nd World War) - the major wave of immigration started in 1881, when the Tsar was assassinated and progroms started to occur.  progroms: random, unpredictable flashes of violence commited by the Russian population against the Jews.  3 major waves: 1881-1884, 1903-1906, 1917. The last wave, just before the Revolution killed over 250.000 Jews -1924: the National Origin’s Act; due to the massive waves of Jewish immigrants who were very poor, and hardly spoke any English the US shut their borders. - Most of the immigrants entered the US via Ellis Island, where their papers were checked; they got a medical examination, etc. The new colossus, the plack added to the base of the Statue of Liberty, on Liberty Island. Emma Lazarus, a Jewish-American poet, wrote this to help find finances to resurrect the Statue of Liberty. It is one of the most famous American poems in the world. The immigrants, who were admitted into the US, were put on a ferry to Manhattan, where they were put into Tenements on the Lower East Side. Famous streets that keep coming up: Hester Street, Delancey Street, Orchard Street. - the women and children often stayed in the tenements during the day to work in the fabric

Stating that God had died in the concentration camps. This was most radically expressed in Richard Rubenstein’s book After Auschwitz in 1966. Religious Crisis (radical theology): Death of God in the eyes of the Jews. making belts. who was abducted by Isrealic Secret Service. 1. Hannah Arendts wrote articles in the NY Times. The daughters don’t like the old world their father lives in they flee it by marrying. etc. defending Eichmann saying he was not a monster  big controversy. or just on the streets trying to sell anything and everything . Reader page 228. only 30 years later at the peak of Jewish Renaissance it was rediscovered and now it is considered as one of the greatest examples of American Modernism. Jews without money by Michael Gold is a book very much inspired by communist ideas. so the Jews kept silent. who protected his chosen people (the Jews) 3. It’s only after the trials of Adolf Eichmann. It was completely ignored when it was printed. The people who did whine about the Holocaust were the communists. . During the war the theme of immigration started to disappear from Jewish-American Literature. This was the last thing you wanted. He didn’t mean that literary. Secular Jews will often refer to the traumatic passing of the Holocaust.safety wasn’t an issue. After the war the J-A Lit mostly dealt with (1) The Holocaust. rather as the death of the idea of the beneficent god. but from an artistic point of view they aren’t convincing yet. about a boy growing up in NYC. Holocaust was only accepted as a subject term after 1969. in 1961 in Jerusalem. 2. when it was accepted as such in the Library of Congress. the Asch Building (in 1911) killing 146 people (including 123 women and children) Novel: The Rise of David Levinsky. 229. Call it sleep by Henry Roth: the novel starts as a typical immigrant story. thus whining about the Holocaust got you immediately associated with communism.the men often worked in sweatshops. in postwar US. (2) The Religious Crisis and (3) The Jewish Identity Crisis. From SocioEconomical point of view they are interesting. to answer the question of what makes up his/her Jewish cultural identity. Jewish Identity Crisis: the Jewish religion is no longer the only identity marker of Jewish society. because the German’s had become allies in the Cold War against Russia. The Holocaust wasn’t featured in the media in the US after the war. The Jewish Renaissance Saul Bellow: . an American novel which shows the flip side of the American dream.industry. until the end of the novel where the novel becomes full stream of consciousness. Bread Givers: a story about a Rabi and his five daughters who have moved from the Old World to the New World. resulting in the famous fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Reader page 226.

The Jew feels so bad that he invites the man to come live with him. Literal reference to cold. they stay outside) No clear reference to the year or place Which is the period dealt with in the story? o Probably something close to 9 months (estimated by the age of the child) o During the ‘Death Marches’ (1944-45). but it features in the background as the protagonist keeps having these dreams about the atrocities of the Romanian fascists.- - - Dangling Man (1944): The story doesn’t deal with the Holocaust as such. Because of the book he got the reputation as a self-hating Jew The Ghostwriter The New Wave Art Spiegelman Melvin Jules Bukiet Thane Rosenbaum Jane Yolen Jonathan Safran Foer Nicole Krauss Michael Chabon Judy Budnitz Jewish American Authors of Soviet Descent: Cynthia Ozick: The Shawl The Shawl (1980): Contrast between a very emotional subject and a rather distant poetic language. also symbolic: coldness of the character All the characters are hungry: ‘X is ravenous’ Absence of mother milk is hinted at by a reference to Paul Celan’s Todesfuge o Schwarze Milch der Frühe wir trinken sie abends / wir trinken sie mittags unds morgerns wir trinken sie nachts/ wir trinken und trinken  Black milk is often interpreted as the ashes from the concentration camps o The magic Shawl manages to keep the child alive until it is snatched away from it. She goes inside the concentration camps (compare to other holocaust stories: who don’t actually enter the camps. (Goy: Jewish term for non-believer) The Adventures of Augie March (1953) Herzog (1964) Mr. Sammler’s Planet (1970) Philip Roth: Portnoy’s Complaint: the book that put him on the map. - . when the Nazi’s forced the Jews to walks for hundreds of miles from concentration camps to the middle of Germany. The Victim (1947): The story about a Jew who is accused by an anti-Semitic goy of having him cost his job by slander.

 Negative view: Religion is taken away when they arrive in the concentration camps. dehumanization) o the terminology used in the concentration camps:  image of throwing a woman at the electric fence causing her death  image of child being thrown at the electric fence  description of diarrhea dripping from the upper bunk beds  .- The shawl is often seen as a tallit. it sustains them. in a way it can be interpreted as symbolizing the death of God. a Jewish prayer Shawl. The story isn’t Jewish if it isn’t about religion The attention to language: o Animal symbolism (detachment. It gives the strength to survive incredible things.  Positive view: As long as religion is there.