The Jew­ish Street: The City and Mod­ern Jew­ish Writing

Mur­ray Baun­garten & Lee David Jaffe, eds.
  • Review
By – November 6, 2014

The premise of this anthol­o­gy of urban Jew­ish sto­ries is that Jews have a spe­cial rela­tion­ship with the city, a space in which they feel both shel­tered by anonymi­ty and lost in it. The city is an area where Jews have cul­ti­vat­ed their own restrict­ed space, call­ing it a neigh­bor­hood, long after oth­ers have crammed them into a ghet­to. Mur­ray Baum­garten, an Eng­lish pro­fes­sor at Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia San­ta Cruz, and Lee David Jaffe have col­lect­ed sto­ries and selec­tions from longer works (most­ly fic­tion) from many cen­ters of Jew­ish life and orga­nized them the­mat­i­cal­ly in sec­tions called Refugee Snap­shots,” Oth­er Home­lands,” and so on. If you read the anthol­o­gy from begin­ning to end, though, it moves in a rough chrono­log­i­cal pro­gres­sion from ear­ly sec­u­lar writ­ing in East­ern Europe to the great immi­gra­tion to New York, the Holo­caust, Israel, and con­tem­po­rary Jew­ish writ­ers. The writ­ing seems to improve as time goes by, and the lat­er sec­tions of the anthol­o­gy are the most reward­ing in a lit­er­ary sense. Writ­ers such as Rebec­ca Gold­stein, Wal­ter Mosley, Shalom Aus­lan­der, and Lara Vap­n­yar are rep­re­sent­ed along with Morde­cai Rich­ler, Chaim Grade, Isaac Babel, and Sholom Ale­ichem. The edi­tors claim that this is the first col­lec­tion of urban Jew­ish writ­ing with an inter­na­tion­al scope, and many of the sto­ries by Latin Amer­i­can and Israeli writ­ers will be new to read­ers and pro­vide fresh, unex­pect­ed per­spec­tives on Jew­ish life. on) from many

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Miri­am Rinn has been an edi­tor and writer for decades, recent­ly retir­ing from a posi­tion as com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ag­er for JCC Asso­ci­a­tion. Her writ­ing has appeared in many news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines and she has won numer­ous awards, includ­ing a Rock­ow­er, for her work. She is a reg­u­lar review­er of books, film, and the­ater in print and on the Web, and is also the author of a children’s nov­el called The Sat­ur­day Secret, which has been cho­sen as a selec­tion by PJ Library.

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