shib • bo • leth
an undergraduate journal of Jewish thought at Yale
volume 8 • spring 2020/5781
Letter from the Editor Dear Reader,
his issue of Shibboleth has been a long time coming; the current Covid-19 pandemic, which delayed its publication eight months ago, still looms in the background, altering the very fabric of our lives. In this new environment, it is difficult to ignore the impact that the pandemic has had on the Jewish community at large. With the inability of communities to host large gatherings in Synagogues—a cornerstone of Judaism for the past two thousand years—one would think that the community would be fractured. However, this has not occurred. Just as with the fall of the Second Temple, the early Rabbis rebuilt Judaism in the synagogue, in the absence of the synagogue, the leaders of this generation have found new ways for the Jewish community to thrive. The leaders of the Slifka community—its student leaders and clergy—have done an admirable job in this regard. Shibboleth aims to serve the Yale community in this way as well. Our two recent holiday issues strived to connect the community in spirit; this issue strives to connect the community in thought. Within these pages, you will find original and thought-provoking content composed by undergraduates from across the Yale community. The scope and depth of these pieces is astounding: together, they span four continents, cover one thousand years of history, and deal with texts ranging from the poetry of Judah HaLevi and Adrienne Rich to works of fiction from the modern Jewish canon. If there is a single aspect that unites these works, it is their audacious interrogation of the meaning of Jewish identity. The publication of this issue represents, both literally and metaphorically, the rebith of Shibboleth: my hope is that it will not only stimulate the mind, but also create a community of intellectual discourse surrounding the impressive scholarship herein. I heartily and humbly invite you to participate in that project. Dov Greenwood Slifka class of 2022 November 5, 2020 / י”ח חשון תשפ”א
shib • bo • leth Shibboleth is Yale’s only undergraduate journal dedicated to specifically Jewish content. Shibboleth hopes to enrich the Jewish conversation at Yale and in the world, and to amplify the voices of emerging Jewish scholars. We are a forum for debate in the spirit of Hillel and Shammai and an intellectual community. Interested in writing for Shibboleth? We’d love to have you. For more information, contact the editor-in-chief at email@example.com. The publication of this volume would not have been possible without the support of the Rose A. and Jack Schwartz Jewish Publication Fund, endowed by Joseph B. Schwartz, YC 1962, in memory of his parents, at the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale.
The texts contained herein may not be reproduced for any purpose without the explicit permission of their creators. Background art credits: p. 6 — Photograph of Al-Hambra Palace. Retrieved from: www.audleytravel.com/us/spain/things-to-do/alhambrapalace-and-granada-city-tour p. 24 — Photograph from the Guerra Sucia , 1976, Retrieved from: www.timetoast.com/timelines/historia-deamerica-latina-33a12a66-1442-4058-828f-0d4a102b4843 p. 48 — “A Polish shtetl in the winter.” Retrieved from: www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3025072/jewish/ What-Is-a-Shtetl-The-Jewish-Town.htm p. 62 — The Steerage, Alfred Stieglitz, 1907.
Dov Greenwood Layout and Design
Dov Greenwood Literary Editors
Avigayil Halpern Shalhevet Schwartz Daniella Cohen
The Return of the Volunteer, Moritz Oppenheim, c. 1868. Oil on canvas.
Photograph. p. 72 — Sketch by Franz Kafka. Retrieved from: blog.nli.org.il/en/ the-drawings-of-franz-kafka/ p. 80 — Photograph of bird in flight. Original provenance unknown. p. 82 — Postcard portrait of I.L. Peretz, c. 1910. p. 84 — Bertha Kalich, half-length portrait, facing left, c. 1910. p. 88 — Zachi Evenor, 2012. Retrieved from: www.flickr.com/ photos/zachievenor/6817923414/ in/set-72157629203011301/
shib â€˘ bo â€˘ leth
an undergraduate journal of Jewish thought at Yale
essays Joe Blumberg
The Construction of Faith How Poems and Sermons Defined Exodus for Spanish Jewry and New England Puritans
19th and 20th Century Origins of Anti-Semitism During the Guerra Sucia in Argentina
How Should the Diaspora Be Understood in Jewish History?
Henry Roth and the Generative Power of Translation Roth gives the Jew a seat at the table of modernism
The Solitudes of Adrienne Rich
translations Daniella Cohen
Discourse by Agi Mishol Translated from Hebrew
Bantzia Shvayg by I.L. Peretz Translated from Yiddish
An Interview with Bertha Kalish by Aaron Rosen Translated from Yiddish
A Fragment from the Zohar Translated from Aramaic
The Construction of Faith: How Poems and Sermons Defined Exodus for Spanish Jewry and New England Puritans by Joe Blumberg
t first glance, it seems a stretch to compare the poetry of Judah Halevi from the 12th century in Andalusia with 17th-century sermons delivered by early colonial preachers in New England. The cultures in which each developed were opposites in fundamental ways: Andalusian Jews had practically nothing in common with Puritans theologically, and the two communities had radically different views on how societies could and should be organized. It can certainly be said that social liberalism and appreciation of worldly pleasures found in Andalusian court Jewry were the opposite of Puritan customs, and each had radically different relationships with the land they occupied. Nevertheless, a comparison of specific narratives promoted by each set of writing opens the door to some surprising and remarkable commonalities. While Halevi’s worldview is not representative of all of the Hebrew poetry from the period, his unique understanding of Jewish history, the fate of Spain’s Jews, and ultimately the importance of returning to Israel offers unique parallels to the story of history and fate told by Puritan ministers in their sermons. The two stories, which bridge thousands of miles and six centuries, each began with a “golden age” and ended with the home country (Andalusia and England, respectively) becoming prohibitively inhospitable. Each faced persecution under new laws which eroded their safety and security: the Jews under harsh Almoravid restrictions, and the Puritans under 6
the post-Revolution Church of England. As a result, each faced the prospect of an exodus: the Puritans to the New World, and Halevi to the oldest of worlds: Zion. Each considered their own people to be God’s Elect and understood their position in history as one of profound, suprarational importance. Each used their tradition’s primary communicative form, sermons and poems respectively, to convince people of the legitimacy of their missions and to frame hardship in an empowering way. The comparison of a man with an entire religious movement is indeed an awkward one. Judah Halevi was largely alone in his radical thinking, and a grand exodus of Jews to Zion never came to fruition in his lifetime. The Puritans, on the other hand, were a complete community. Parents and children, ministers and laymen were all part of their exodus story, which saw an entire religious movement pack up and migrate across the world in search of a fresh start and a chance to build a theologically pure society. But the similarities between Halevi’s poems and the Puritan sermons transcend these details and reside in the theology, as evidenced by the texts, of each world. Halevi’s poetry, written between 1125 and 1140, represents a theology of election. Many of his poems bemoan the disenfranchisement of Jews in Andalusia and dream of an exodus from Spain back to Israel where Jews could better observe God’s commandments, and re-establish some kind of sovereignty. Puritan sermons employ strikingly similar uses of Biblical stories and theological narratives to construct their own version of election in the face of the difficulties they met in the New World. A comparison, therefore, highlights the enduringly evocative power of the Biblical covenant story as it played out in two of the richest bodies of text in religious history. MIRROR IMAGES: FROM DESTRUCTION TO REDEMPTION
robably born in Tudela some time before 1075, Judah Halevi lived in an era of comparative quiet on the Iberian Peninsula. The Moors who controlled the majority of Andalusia were more than capable of holding back the onslaught of Christian forces from the north and Berber encroachments from the south, allowing communities within the kingdom to develop in relative peace. Royal courts flourished, often with Jews at their centers, 7
Joe Blumberg and the golden age of Islamic culture churned along. As a result, the thousands of Jews who lived in Iberia during the 11th and 12th centuries enjoyed extensive self-government, and some even played major roles in economic, political, and cultural spheres. Particularly influential Jews also held important court positions and served as patrons for the Jewish scholars and poets who created the famous Jewish literature of the time. For example, Hasdai ibn His growing frustraShaprut, court physician and tion both with the Jews’ minister to ‘Abd al-Rahman, was the patron of poets Menahem ben position of subservience Saruq and Dunash ben Labrat. amidst the grand politGranada, where Halevi spent his ical showdowns of the teenage years at the invitation of peninsula and with the master poet Moshe Ibn Ezra, was still known by locals as Ighranata apathy of the Jewish inal-yahud (“Jewish Granada”) well tellectual elite who were into the 12th century, owing to the content to assimilate sustained resonance of impactful Jewish leaders in its court. combined to produce As a young man Halevi a deeply-felt religious participated actively in this pull towards a return to golden age and quickly became Zion.” known as the exemplar of Jewish culture in al-Andalus, rising to high ranks as a communal leader and prosperous court physician in Toledo. A master of Hebrew and its poetic possibilities, Halevi was described in an 1130 letter as “the quintessence and embodiment of our country … our glory and leader, illustrious scholar, unique and perfect devotee....”1 He was a paragon of Jewish high culture, tapping into Arabic poetic traditions to assume the weight of local history in his poetry while simultaneously infusing it with deeply Jewish sentiments. Not long after Halevi’s career took off, the political situation on the peninsula began to change dramatically. Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, a famed Castilian military leader from the Christian north and hero
Peter Cole, The Dream of the Poem, pg. 143
The Construction of Faith of the great Spanish epic poem, “El Cid,” began to stage raids on neighboring Muslim kingdoms in 1065. To counter these incursions the Moorish kings called upon Almoravid ruler Yusuf ibn Tashufin for assistance. Tashufin obliged, but he quickly returned to Al-Andalus in 1090 to overrun Granada and the rest of Muslim Spain, uniting it under Almoravid rule. Over the next few decades the fighting between the Almoravids and Christians over the future of the peninsula acquired all the elements of a holy war, mirroring the clashes between Islam and Christendom occurring in Zion as Christian crusaders marched into Jerusalem in 1099. The Almoravids brought with them their own doctrine, instituting the Maliki school of Islamic law that mandated national acquiescence to orthodox tradition and supplanted the independent and local interpretation of Islamic law.2 Works of liberal Muslims who defended tolerance and the legitimacy of local muftis were burned in the street, and Jewish communities were subjected to regular violence and disruption. Seeing his peninsula thrown into conflict, Halevi’s deepening doubts about the meaningfulness of Jewish life in Al-Andalus came to the fore. Over several years of witnessing the difficulties faced by Jewish communities amongst the battles for Iberian sovereignty between Muslims and Christians, he began to reject Andalusian culture at least nominally, despite his continued masterful use of Arabic poetic conventions in his work. When the nephew of his Jewish Patron Yosef Ferrizu’el was assasinated in 1108, Halevi became fully disillusioned with his situation at the court of Toledo.3 His growing frustration both with the Jews’ position of subservience amidst the grand political showdowns of the peninsula and with the apathy of the Jewish intellectual elite who were content to assimilate combined to produce a deeply-felt religious pull towards a return to Zion. He would eventually attempt to fulfill his dream, setting sail for the Holy Land in 1140. His desire to do so in the years leading up to this voyage defines the body of poetry and prose presented in this essay. The Puritan backstory follows a similar thematic progression. While they never enjoyed a “golden age” in the same way, the Puritans Almoravid Dynasty. 9 Mar. 2016, www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/ Almoravid_dynasty. Accessed 6 May 2018. 3 Cole, 143. 2
Joe Blumberg were politically active within the Church of England and held a respected position within Church politics prior to the Civil War. But after the Church restored its constitution in 1660 following the Restoration, the Puritans quickly found themselves theologically sidelined. While they had originally supported the restoration of Charles II, political posturing between various sects led Charles to eventually pass the Act of Uniformity of 1662, which restored the Book of Common Prayer as the official liturgy of England and represented a theological “slap in the face” to Puritans. Unable to accept the new liturgy of the land, the Puritans became increasingly vocal against the Church of England. They eventually resolved to adopt the famous Reformed theology that emphasized individual relationships with scripture, severely undermining the supremacy of bishops and widening the gap between Puritans and the domineering church they sought to reform. As a result, thousands of ministers were expelled from the Church in what became known as the Great Ejection of 1662. They continued preaching to their followers in their homes during meetings known as conventicles, but the Cavalier Parliament soon discovered these subversive gatherings and responded with hostility. Within three years the Conventicle Act was passed, banning religious assemblies of more than five people outside a Church of England church, and the Five Mile Act forbade ejected ministers from residing within five miles of the parish from which they were banned. Frustrated by their exclusion from religious communal life in England and threatened by the increasingly factious state of affairs between other denominations within the country, the Puritans looked first to the Netherlands and then to the New World for a new opportunity. Just as Halevi felt drawn towards Zion as a land where he could carry out God’s commandments authentically, the Puritans felt drawn to the New World as a land where they might be able to bring about God’s kingdom on earth without the Church of England looming in the background. A DIVINELY SANCTIONED HISTORY
entral to the theologies and historical narratives of both early Puritan ministers and Judah Halevi was an understanding of their respective peoples’ place in history as suprarational and covenantal, 10
The Construction of Faith independent of modern fact or empirical history. Their conceptions of exceptionalism and chosenness stemmed from something much deeper and older than anything an empirical approach to history could discover: Chosenness was bestowed originally through Abraham’s covenant with God, and both Halevi and Puritan ministers claimed the heritage of electedness as descendants of the covenant. These religious understandings of history ran counter to the facts of their eras, which saw the increasing success and power of Christianity in Andalusia and Charles II’s Anglicanism in England undermine the sovereignty of the Jews and the Puritans. Halevi and the Puritans therefore operated on a different plane of history, one in which the fact of Divine chosenness dictated the future regardless of empirical reality. In his History of Mediaeval Jewish Philosophy, Isaac Husik asserts that for Halevi, “what God is must be understood not by means of rational proofs but by prophetic and spiritual insight…. It is different with us, who heard his words, his commands and prohibitions, and felt his reward and his punishment...the conception of Jhvh cannot be arrived at by reason. It requires that prophetic vision by which a person almost becomes a member of a new species, akin to angels.”4 Halevi explains this placement of the Jews in history in the Kuzari, his most famous work of Jewish philosophy. The piece is presented as a dialogue between a rabbi and a pagan, the latter of whom is known as the king of the Khazars,5 who recently converted to Judaism after fully investigating the potential merits of Christianity and Islam. Throughout the five chapters, Halevi refutes empirical evidence of Muslim and Christian supremacy offered by the king by explaining the myriad ways in which the truth of Judaism and its history supersedes the Greek conceptions of history held by other empires and peoples. The Kuzari reverses the thrust of the traditional historical narrative propagated by Christians and Muslims that places the three major religions on a linear continuum, proposing instead that history as it is understood by Christians and Muslims through their worldly military conquests and expansion of influence is altogether subservient to the suprarational truth of God’s covenant with Abraham as inherited by Husik, Isaac. A History of Mediaeval Jewish Philosophy. Macmillan, 1916, p. 159160. 5 Sefaria (an Asian tribe that converted to Judaism in the eighth century) 4
Joe Blumberg later generations of Jews. Throughout the work, Halevi demonstrates the superiority of Judaism by basing his arguments on a particular style of “common sense” and “rationality” that operates almost purely on a theological plane. The Jews, as Halevi explains in the Kuzari 1:95, were specially selected as unique descendants of Adam and were singularly and teleologically bound to receive the Torah at Sinai. Halevi explains in great detail the unique blood lineage from Adam through Abraham, in which God continually chose the forefathers of Judaism for blessing from among their brothers. Following the covenant which sealed the descendants of Abraham for success as a nation, Kuzari, Halevi explains, the covenant transferred to Isaac and Jacob, “whilst Esau was sent from the land which belonged to Jacob…. This is the first instance of the divine influence descending on a number of people, whereas it had previously only been vouchsafed to isolated individuals.”6 The Creation of Adam therefore began a process that led to the revelation of the Torah, and in order to authentically continue that process the Jews needed to observe the mitzvot in Israel. Halevi explains this final step in the Kuzari 5:23: “the land of Canaan is especially reserved for the God of Israel, and one’s deeds cannot be entirely complete in any place except there.... one’s heart and soul cannot be entirely pure and refined except in a place that one knows is especially reserved for God.” Some historians understand this aspect of the Kuzari as a “racialist”7 ideology; phrases like “we are known as the ‘choicest” of all mankind” leave little unsaid about Halevi’s conceptions of election.8 While Halevi’s exceptionalist understanding of Jewish history is most extensively treated in the Kuzari, it appears throughout his poetry as well. He makes this position clear in “Before I Came To Be.” While the poem generally asks God to shield and accept the speaker, it includes distinct markers of Halevi’s brand of historical philosophy. It begins: “Before I came to be, You did select me, / And while Your breath is in me You protect me.”9 These lines are an obvious reference Sefaria Kuzari 1:95, get Korobkin translation Baron, Salo W. “Yehudah Halevi: An Answer to an Historic Challenge.” Jewish Social Studies, 1941st ser., vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 243-72. 8 Halevi, Yehuda. The Kuzari: In Defense of the Despised Faith. Translated by N. Daniel Korobkin, 2nd ed., Philipp Feldheim, 2009, Book 5, Section 23. 9 Schiendlin, Raymond P., translator. The Gazelle: Medieval Hebrew Poems on God, 6 7
The Construction of Faith to the pre-historical fact of chosenness which existed before the author’s (and by extension, Judaism’s) existence, and they set the tone for the rest of the work. The poem also outlines a particularly intimate relationship between Israel and God by consistently referring to the speaker as “I” and God as “You,” a second-person partner that acts intimately and purposefully in the life of the speaker. The intimacy of the partnership (“my very thoughts are yours”) cements the eternal relationship of the Jewish people and God. “A Dove In The Distance” offers another strong example of this understanding of history.10 The poem recounts the story of a dove, to be understood as the people of Israel, fluttering about in the forest. The third and fourth lines seem to reference the itinerance forced upon Andalusian Jews as they moved around between Christian and Muslim territories, pushed and pulled in each direction by exogenous political tensions: “unable to recover / she flew up, flustered, hovering” in the liminal space of Andalusian Jewry. The poem explains that the dove is “confounded” by the way God had abandoned and “tormented” her in exile and as a result she vows “never again / to mention His name.”11 But even though she publicly denounces her faith, “deep / within her heart it held, / as though a fire burning.”12 By the end of the poem that latent faith comes back in full force, and the dove comes to love her relationship with God despite, or perhaps because of, her confusion and lowly circumstances. The poem is both an analysis of the problems facing Andalusian Jewry and a demonstration of Halevi’s earnest wish for Andalusian Jewry to understand chosenness and its ensuing obligations as he does.
he Puritans who came to New England in the 17th century understood chosenness and covenantal relationships as a reproducible identity of which they were the lucky recipients. They did not claim blood relation to Adam’s chosen son in their sermons like Halevi did in the Kuzari, but they did believe that they were the inheritors of the covenant through the birth and death of Christ. While Puritans Israel, and the Soul. Oxford University, 1999, p. 215. 10 Cole, Peter, translator. The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492. Princeton University Press, 2007, p. 157. 11 Ibid, Lines 14-15. 12 Ibid, Lines 15-17.
Joe Blumberg understood that covenanted peoples “might be ignored or reviled by the world and figure insignificantly in the great empires of profane history,” they nevertheless saw themselves as God’s instruments to bring about messianic deliverance.13 The Puritan communities that had been belittled as “persecutors” or “fanatics” in England for their views also faced hardships of environment and clashes with angry neighbors in the New World. Winters were particularly difficult for early settlers; the crude wigwams and thatched huts in which they lived were insufficient, and the colonists struggled against starvation and disease.14 And while the colonists decisively defeated the Indian tribes of southern New England during King Philip’s War (1675-76), Indian raids on Puritan towns left a wake of devastation that shook the fledgling villages to their core. It was out of this moment of struggling to survive in brutal new conditions that these sermons were born. The rhetorical world of sermons elevated their narrative out of the “brute facts of profane history” and into sacred history.15 Urian Oakes, a pastor in Cambridge and future president of Harvard College, wrote a sermon in 1673 that spanned history as the Puritans understood it, from the creation of the world to the founding of New England as God’s new Israel. The work, which includes astounding similarities to the Kuzari, explains that God had set land aside from the beginning of time for the Israelites and that He did the same for the Puritans in the New World, “[so] that there might be an Inheritance laid out for the Children of Israel.”16 From here Oakes turns directly to his congregants in New England, declaring, This wilderness was the place which God decreed to make a Canaan to you. So, we are Abraham’s Children, a people in Covenant with God… God hath been doing the same thing for the substance of it here, Stout, Harry. The New England Soul. 25th Edition ed., Oxford University Press, 2012, p. 7. 14 Labaree, Benjamin (1979). Colonial Massachusetts: a History. Millwood, NY: KTO Press 15 Ibid, p. 71. 16 Oakes, Urian. “New England Pleaded With.” Election Day, Church of Christ, 7 May 1673, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Speech, p. 2. The italicization of “Israel” was most likely included by Oakes as a reminder to himself of where to emphasize the sentence during public sermonizing. 13
The Construction of Faith that shall be done more universally and gloriously when Israel shall blossom and bud and fill the face of the World with fruit. You have been through a handful of people separate from the greatest part of the Christian World as a Dew from the Lord, and as the showers upon the grass. God hath privileged and honoured you greatly in this respect.17 Sentiments like this were not unique to Mr. Oakes. Nearly every congregant in New England heard these tropes rehearsed repeatedly each Sunday as ministers continually returned to the same themes of covenant and election. This version of history, which placed the Puritan separatists at the center of a suprarational and covenantal story, served as a crucial element in holding all Puritan communities together in the face of difficulty. The important difference between Halevi’s and Oakes’ constructions of history lies in their physical relations to the lands they lived in. Halevi wished for a return to Israel, the completion of an epic story that was left dangling on a cliffhanger in Andalusia. The Puritan story was instead one of narrative progression and forward motion. It was not a return but rather an adventure, the next great directional step in the history of Chosenness that would lead, if their mission was successful, to the realization of God’s kingdom on earth. Nevertheless, both Halevi and the Puritans saw themselves as the divinely ordained heirs of God’s covenant with Abraham, regardless of their contemporary political situations. By placing their respective endeavors beyond the bounds of empirical observations or philosophical inquiry, Halevi and Oakes made their narratives unimpeachable in the face of empiricalhistorical claims. Anglican hegemony or instability on the Iberian peninsula couldn’t hold a candle to Truth itself. PERFORMING SUPRARATIONAL FAITH
roadly, Puritan sermons and Halevi’s poems can be understood as examples of performative oratory. That is to say, both bodies of work were constructed, at least in part, to evoke very specific emotions and inspire specific actions and advance an agenda. Halevi’s work 17
Ibid 2, 17, 45.
Joe Blumberg attempted to “present a philosophy of exile so that Jews would not view themselves as historical indigents and ciphers but would believe in themselves again as a major force in history.”18 Whether he was actually lobbying for a massive immigration of Jews from Andalusia to Israel is difficult to know, but certain poems certainly suggest his desire to convince an audience. Puritan sermons endeavored to frame the adventure into the wilderness of the New World in a way that maintained community, inspired people to continue buying into the Puritan social contract, and kept people close to Scripture. Both addressed the specific tribulations of their times. Halevi executed performativity more subtly than Puritan sermons, which tended more towards a “fire-and-brimstone” style of oratory to make their point. Rather, Halevi’s poems about the suprarational and unstoppably teleological election of the Jews performed confidence and calmness in the face of uncertainty. Whether he was confidently inviting Jews to join him in travelling to Israel or quelling his own fears about the journey cannot be known, but his poetry in the years leading up to his voyage consistently features these themes. In “A Doe Far From Home,” for example, Halevi speaks about the Christians and Muslims (the “daughters of Edom and Hagar”) sardonically, taunting them for their fleeting moment in power which will doubtlessly be eclipsed by the descendants of the Israelites.19 “Where are their prophecies?” he asks. “Where is their lamp? Where is His Presence above the Ark?”20 Halevi rests easy in the poem, content in the knowledge that the nations “who long for him with envy” only fan the flames of God’s love for the children of Israel with their delusions of grandeur. Other performative poems by Halevi take a softer stance, focusing less on boasting than on acceptance and contendedness with the Jewish people’s place in the bosom of the God of history. In “To You The Stars of Morning Sing,” Halevi contradicts the idea that the Jews had been abandoned by history and were therefore not included in the contest for divine favor.21 Scheindlin explains that the poem Hartman, David. Israelis and the Jewish tradition: an ancient people debating its future. Yale University, 2000, p. 32. 19 Cole, 156. 20 Italicized words were added for emphasis and not found in the translation. 21 Scheindlin, 228. 18
The Construction of Faith “answered the desperate need of the Jews, hounded and isolated as they were, to feel themselves alone with God as the earthly members of His circle of courtiers.”22 It puts Jews in intimate and private relationship with the angels and with God, and encourages them to sing to and “extol their King.” To you the stars of morning sing, Because their lights from Your lights spring. Like them the angels on their watches Night and day extol their King. Your holy people follows them: Each dawn their songs from Your house ring. The question of audience arises here. Was Halevi indeed writing his poems for common villagers suffering at the hands of oppressors? Or, more likely, did he write his poetry with courtly Jews in mind, striving to wake them from complacency? While the answer to this question is important when considering the receivers of performative work, it is ultimately unanswerable with any certainty. Halevi did write many poems specifically targeting the complacency of the Jewish elite, but many, including this poem, seem to have been written with a much broader target audience. Regardless of who read it, its literary purpose is clear. Perhaps the most stirring example of performative poetry is “My Soul Longed,” a short work that consoles a troubled narrator with a reminder of a loving God.23 Halevi most likely wrote the poem as he was preparing to leave Andalusia for the Holy Land, and he uses its lines to explain to Andalusian Jews his feelings about the journey. My soul longed for the house of assembly and trembled as fear of leaving came through me; but the heavens conspired to ease my departure, And I found His name in my heart to help me. Therefore I’ll offer Him thanks with each step, And bow before Him the length of the journey. He begins with a seemingly unsolvable paradox: he longs for 22 23
Ibid. Cole, 167.
Joe Blumberg the Temple in Jerusalem, but is worried about leaving his home. He is revered in Andalusia, and he knows that a return to Jerusalem still held by Crusaders would be a harrowing and challenging experience. But he quickly finds comfort upon remembering the special relationship between God and his people, and he concludes by resolving to thank God with each step on his journey towards the dust and stones of Jerusalem. The poem implicitly suggests that this is the correct way to acknowledge and deal with fears and uncertainty. Beyond the poetry, the Kuzari is the defining document of Halevi’s performativity. Its rhythm and pacing present almost as a screenplay, as Halevi sets up a Socratic relationship between the rabbi and the King of the Khazars who asks repeated questions about the religious-historical legitimacy of Judaism. Michael Berger He reverses the tradidistinguishes two important tional understanding of scenes in Toward a New exile, using it to mean the Understanding of Judah Halevi’s “Kuzari.”24 The first occurs at the voluntary movement to end of Book 1, when the Khazar the Holy Land rather than king is told by the rabbi of the an involuntary expulsion benefits of exile. While Muslims and Christians may be content out of it.” in their momentary glory, he explains, the Jews are ultimately better off because they are closer to God than they would have been had they been in political power. The King responds with a reminder that the Jews’ lowly status was forced upon them rather than freely chosen, thus removing autonomous choice from their situation and identifying them as a people at the mercy of masters (Christians and Muslims).25 Halevi answers that if only the majority of Andalusian Jews had accepted their poor status out of submission rather than “accept the yoke of exile not only out of compulsion but voluntarily,”26 God would not have left the Jews in the yoke of exile for so long.
Berger, Michael S. “Toward a New Understanding of Judah Halevi’s ‘Kuzari.’” The Journal of Religion, vol. 72, no. 2, Apr. 1992, pp. 210-28. 25 Korobkin, 50-51 (Book 1, Sections 113-115). 26 A not-so-subtle jab at wealthy Jewish courtiers who revelled in their relative assimilation and befriended “the oppressors.” 24
The Construction of Faith The second instance comes after a long monologue praising the land of Israel, when the Khazar king says to the rabbi, “...you must have limited affection for your Torah. You have not made Israel your goal, nor your place of living and dying. Yet you say, ‘Have mercy on Zion, for it is our life’s home….’ I see that all your knee-bending and bowing toward Israel is mere flattery or some insincere custom.”27 Rather than respond to the king with the typical scholarly rhetoric that defines most of the discursive rhythm of the Kuzari, the Rabbi answers with a curious exclamation: “You have shamed me, King of Khazar! It is this very sin that prevented us from achieving that which God promised us for the Second Temple.”28 The rabbi goes on to bemoan the Jewish people’s unwillingness to return to the Holy Land, explaining that it’s no wonder the Jews remained oppressed and unredeemed in Andalusia if they were not going to “walk the walk.” The purpose of each of these quirky interactions is to wake up Andalusian Jewry to its own blindness. In both cases the rabbi (to be understood as Halevi himself) shifts the expressed criticism to the Khazar king and responds as a member of the community, setting an example for how he thinks other Andalusian Jews should respond to such a critique. He literally performs a different character, shedding his own identity as a critic and assuming the identity of his ideal Andalusian Jew. During the epilogue of the Kuzari and in a final moment of pure performativity, the rabbi performs the action central to the entire treatise and moves to the land of Canaan. With a passage demonstrating sublime slippage of meaning, Halevi explains that while not every sin will be atoned for when the sacrificial cult is renewed, each Jew “should therefore rely on that which sages said, ‘Exile atones for sin.’ This is certainly true if one exiles oneself to a desirable place.29 He reverses the traditional understanding of exile, using it to mean the voluntary movement to the Holy Land rather than an involuntary expulsion out of it.
Korobkin, 79 (Book 2, Section 23). Ibid, 80 (Book 2, Section 24). 29 Ibid, 309 (Book 5, Section 23). 27
he worldview of Puritan ministers as told through their sermons was equally performative. In reality, their migration was not so much a positive mission as it was a necessary flight from religious persecution. It was a plan “to get out while the getting was good,” before persecution in England became unbearable. But they could not build a new settlement on the basis of fear and persecution; they needed a more compelling mission than that. So they constructed a positive mandate for themselves, and from this legitimization of their migration flowed the election theology and the divinely-approved nature of their venture which defined the sermons. The earliest architect of Puritan sermonic performativity was Richard Hakluyt, one of England’s earliest leading intellectual architects of colonial expansion. Hakluyt harnessed the fragile state of Puritan self-understanding to construct a rhetoric of territorial, ideological and commercial ambition that was deeply compelling to Puritan congregants. In a 1584 tract, he deploys the elevated sense of Puritan morality and mission to urge migration to the New World “for the salvation of those poore people which have sitten so longe in darkenes and in the shadowe of deathe.”30 His rhetoric demonstrates an awareness of what would appeal to his audience. In this case, he highlights the chance to spread civility and Godliness to a “poore” people (Native Americans), knowing that such an opportunity would be attractive to the Puritan separatists. The Puritan sermonic tradition is perhaps most famous for John Winthrop’s Model of Christian Charity, a sermon delivered to his flock aboard the Arabella as they sailed for Massachusetts. Winthrop offered the people a simple choice: uphold your end of the covenant by building and maintaining a properly Christian “city upon a hill” and God will deliver you to safety, or fall from grace and suffer God’s wrath.31 The presentation of an obvious choice between morality and immorality was a classic trope in the rhetoric of Puritan ministers. It gave congregants a clear path towards salvation and unified the way that people understood morality within their community. Finally, similarities between Puritan performativity and the content of Halevi’s poetry can most easily be seen in Puritan 30 31
Ibid, 20. Ibid, 25.
The Construction of Faith election sermons. These sermons, given each year on the day when the community’s elders were elected, were an invention of Congregationalist ministers in the late 17th century and served as annual reminders of the suprarational covenant in which the Puritans were engaged. These often grand epics of fifty pages “restate[d] New England’s historical mission and rehearse[d] its progress down to the present,” taking congregants “away from local concerns and personal crises and into the great drama of providential history.”32 In addition to serving as distractions from the difficult realities of daily life, election sermons gave congregants a reminder of the history to which they belonged and had an obligation to complete. Just like “A Dove In The Distance,” they placed their audience within the larger narrative and insinuated what reaction they should have to difficulties in their lives.
nderstanding the balance between authentic, emotional writing and performative pieces is always a challenge. To divine what authors like Hakluyt or Halevi truly felt versus what they wrote in order to manipulate audiences into believing something is a task that should be very delicately undertaken. But while we cannot know their exact meaning, Puritan sermons and Halevi’s later work still yield deeply meaningful comparisons. These poems and sermons are at once heartfelt understandings of theology and self-conscious works written expressly for public consumption. They are real and performative. They share a fundamental dependency on the same constructions of election and suprarational destiny, and they use it to explain their surroundings and encourage people to understand their circumstances in a specific way. Above all, their powerful use of Biblical sources is a testament to the timeless appeal of covenantal theology.
Works Cited Almoravid Dynasty. 9 Mar. 2016, www.newworldencyclopedia.org/ entry/Almoravid_dynasty. Accessed 1 May 2018. Berger, Michael S. “Toward a New Understanding of Judah Halevi’s 32
Joe Blumberg ‘Kuzari.’” The Journal of Religion, vol. 72, no. 2, Apr. 1992, pp. 210-28. Cherry, Conrad. God’s New Israel: Religious Interpretations of American Destiny. University of North Carolina Press, 1998. Cole, Peter, translator. The Dream of the Poem Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492. Princeton University Press, 2007. Halevi, Yehuda. The Kuzari: In Defense of the Despised Faith. Translated by N. Daniel Korobkin, 2nd ed., Philipp Feldheim, 2009. Hartman, David. Israelis and the Jewish tradition: an ancient people debating its future. Yale University, 2000. Higginson, John. “The Cause of God and His People in New England.” Election Day, 27 May 1663, General Court of the Massachusetts Colony. Speech. Holifield, E. Brooks. Theology in America: Christian Thought From the Age of the Puritans to the Civil War. New Haven, Yale University Press, 2003. Husik, Isaac. A History of Mediaeval Jewish Philosophy. Macmillan, 1916. Miller, Perry. Errand Into the Wilderness. Harper Torchbooks, 1964. Oakes, Urian. “New England Pleaded With.” Election Day, Church of Christ, 7 May 1673, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Speech. Schiendlin, Raymond P., translator. The Gazelle: Medieval Hebrew Poems on God, Israel, and the Soul. Oxford University, 1999. Stout, Harry. The New England Soul. 25th Edition ed., Oxford University Press, 2012.
19th and 20th Century Origins of Anti-Semitism During the Guerra Sucia in Argentina by Julia Kahn
n the morning of December 7, 2017, a federal judge in Buenos Aires requested an arrest warrant for ex-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner for treason in masking Iran’s role in the bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), a pillar organization of Argentine Jewish life, that killed 85 people on July 18, 1994.1 This bombing remains the deadliest terrorist attack in Argentina, home to Latin America’s largest Jewish community. To Argentine Jews, it was the harsh climax of over a century of antiSemitic xenophobia, discrimination, and animosity ever-present between the lines of political and social discourse. Before AMIA, the most recent manifestation of anti-Jewish injustice occurred during the Guerra Sucia not 20 years prior. The Guerra Sucia, also known as the Progress of National Reorganization or the Proceso, was executed by a junta from 1976 to 1983 that harbored suspicions of left-wing political opponents.2 It began by ousting and replacing President Isabel Martínez de Perón “Los detalles de la resolución de Bonadio y las razones por las que pidió la prisión preventiva para Cristina Kirchner,” La Nación (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Dec. 7, 2017; Daniel Politi, “Judge Seeks Arrest of Ex-President of Argentina on Treason Charges,” New York Times (New York, NY), Dec. 7, 2017. 2 Rita Arditti, “The Grandmothers of the Plaza De Mayo and the Struggle against Impunity in Argentina,” Meridians 3, no. 1 (2002): 19. Guerra Sucia translates to “Dirty War,” and a junta is a military dictatorship.” 1
with Lieutenant General Jorge Rafaél Videla. Videla suspended the constitution and instituted the Statue for the Progress of National Reorganization, consolidating all legislative, judicial, and executive powers. Essential to the regime was the Doctrine of National Security, which defined communism as the enemy of the homeland, reflecting contemporary Cold War sentiment.3 The Argentine military dictatorship terrorized its citizens with kidnappings, torture, and murder. The total number of civilian desaparecidos is believed to exceed 30,000. 4 Estimates of the proportion of Jewish to gentile prisoners in junta detention camps range from 8-31% in a country where Jews have never constituted more than 2% of the population.5 Reasons for this distorted statistic may lie in the urban nature of the Argentine Jewish community, the educational and occupational strata to which Jews usually belong, and Jewish tendencies towards liberalism and social action.6 Because the junta identified its subversives as liberal, socialist, and highly-educated, a greater proportion of Argentine Jews were perceived as political threats than conservative percentages suggest.7 Jews’ role in oppositional activities were exaggerated, and subversive qualities were often attributed to a Jewish “character.”8 Military officials considered Jews more likely to be subversive. Thus, they were often detained regardless of their political engagement or opinion, even though a large majority of junta prisoners possessed no record of violent opposition. The majority were judged subversive based on their professional occupation or their relation to other Ibid. Ibid., 20. Desaparecido refers to disappeared victims of the military dictatorship who were covertly sequestered, oftentimes never returning home. 5 Edy Kaufman, “Jewish Victims of Repression in Argentina Under Military Rule (1976-1983),” Holocaust and Genocide Studies 4, no. 4 (1989): 488-89. In Argentina in 1980, 245,000 out of 27,862,771 people were Jewish, calculating to less than 1% of the total population. 6 Ibid., 489. In 1989, 80% of Argentine Jews lived in Buenos Aires as opposed to 22% of the general Argentine population that lived in the capital; 40% of desaparecidos were among the highly-educated occupational group, of which university students constituted half (a 1960 Argentine census reported that 11.3% of Jews had a university education versus 2.7% of the general population, and in 1985, 40% of Jews aged 20-24 had a university education). 7 Ibid. 8 Ibid., 479, 483. Jailers frequently told Jewish prisoners that they were being kept and punished for being Jewish. 3
Julia Kahn identified subversives.9 Based on witness and personal testimonies from detention camps, the treatment of Jewish prisoners differed from other desaparecidos. Jewish prisoners were tortured more frequently, verbally abused, accused of economic corruption and crimes (a stereotypical Jewish-capitalist and Marxist trope), forced to recite Catholic prayers conducted by a priest under duress, and anti-Semitic slogans were written on their cell walls.10 Swastikas were routine symbols, and direct references to Adolf Hitler and Nazism were not uncommon amongst the guards.11 This “subversion” is a cultural construction and interpretation of human nature, history, and natural identity in which antisemitism, singularly present in Argentina, plays a key role.12 The junta did not invent this prejudice. An amalgamation of societal fractions contributed to the earlier development of antisemitism that erupted during the Guerra Sucia, including the landed aristocracy, the Catholic Church, trade unions, governmental and anti-governmental groups, and the armed forces that were either infused with anti-Semitic tenets or accumulated such perspectives as Argentina advanced towards the junta. Jewish immigrants initially settled in Argentina because of a combination of Argentine political impetus, Eastern European persecution, and Jewish philanthropy in the second half of the 19th and early 20th century. The Argentine government’s encouragement of European immigration stemmed from its colonial origins. In 1844, American indigenous communities repulsed Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, the 7th president of Argentina, who advocated for their extermination.13 He believed that incorporating Europeans into Argentine society would enrich its national culture, one in which indigenous participation was impossible.14 The 8th president, General Julio Argentino Roca, expressed similar opinions in 1879 during his Ibid., 490. Ibid., 483-85. 11 Ibid., 485-86. 12 Mark J. Osiel, “Constructing Subversion in Argentina’s Dirty War,” Representations 75, no. 1 (Summer, 2001): 119. 13 Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, Facundo: Civilization and Barbarism, trans. Kathleen Ross (Berkley: University of California Press, 2003), 46, 60, 223. 14 Héctor Hugo Trinchero, “The genocide of indigenous peoples in the formation of the Argentine Nation-State,” Journal of Genocide Research 8, no. 2 (2006): 124. 9
19th and 20th Century Origins of Anti-Semitism Conquest of the Desert to rid Patagonia of indigenous populations.15 His objective was to replace native residents with white settlers. Perpetrators of these military massacres saw themselves as heirs to the Spanish legacy of conquest and colonization that had swept the continent centuries prior.16 A landowning oligarchy aimed to foster European immigration with the slogan “Civilizar es poblar” of political theorist and diplomat Juan Bautista Alberdi. He claimed that Argentina lacked a sizable population to work its lands, and that Argentines should look to Europe for such workers.17 The 1853 Argentine constitution reflects this desire for settlers. The preamble reads: […] con el objeto de constituir la unión nacional, afianzar la justicia, consolidar la paz interior, proveer a la defensa común, promover el bienestar general, y asegurar los beneficios de la libertad para nosotros, para nuestra posteridad y para todos los hombres del mundo que quieran habitar en el suelo argentino. 18 It guarantees freedom of religion, ritual, and expression for Argentine people grounded in the idea that all men of the world can participate in nation building, contradicting the 19th-century massacres executed against indigenous inhabitants. The origins of antisemitism in Argentina also extend beyond its borders. In the late 19th century, Czar Alexander II began to promote intolerant policies towards Jews whose assimilation into Russian Federico Finchelstein, The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War: Fascism, Populism, and Dictatorship in Twentieth Century Argentina (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 15. 16 Ibid., 16, 24. 17 Graciela Ben-Dror, The Catholic Church and the Jews: Argentina, 1933-1945 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008), 6; Trinchero, “The genocide of indigenous peoples in the formation of the Argentine Nation-State,” 124. Alberdi’s slogan translates to, “To civilize is to populate.” 18 “Constitución de la Nación Argentina,” Presidencia de la Nación, Ministerio de Cultura, last modified January 11, 2017, https://www.cultura.gob.ar/constitucion-de-la-nacion-argentina_3312/. “[…] with the objective of constituting the national union, ensuring justice, preserving domestic peace, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves, to our posterity, and to all men in the world who wish to dwell on Argentine soil.” 15
Julia Kahn society he had welcomed decades earlier.19 Suddenly endorsed by the government, antisemitism climaxed in 1881 with the czar’s assassination, spurring pogroms throughout the empire.20 Having experienced life outside religiously segregated villages, Russian Jews were unable to abandon their hopes of secular assimilation and, unwilling to return to yeshivahs, shtetls, ghettos, or the Pale of Settlement, they searched for alternatives beyond Russia. Mass migrations culminated in approximately 1.5 million Eastern European Jews arriving in the United States before World War I and another 70,000 settling in Argentina.21 In 1889, waves of Jewish migrants began arriving in Argentina, also stimulated by the projects of German-Jewish financier and philanthropist Baron Maurice de Hirsch. He wanted to establish a haven for impoverished Jews where they could live Jewish lives free from Russian and Eastern European persecution, pogroms, and ghettos, motives that overlapped with Sarmiento’s desires to populate Argentina with European settlers.22 Hirsch possessed a romantic idea that Russian Jews could till the soil and achieve freedom only by emigrating to a country whose government was neither autocratic nor anti-Semitic.23 He founded the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA) to aid Jewish immigrants, helping thousands move from Eastern Europe to Argentina from 1889 to 1905, to live in what Argentines called “the desert.”24 Subsequent Jewish immigrants escaping persecution without the JCA moved to cities, particularly to Buenos Aires.25 Between 1870 and 1910, approximately 2.2 million immigrants, mostly Spanish and Italian, settled in Argentina.26 Mass European Robert Weisbrot. The Jews of Argentina: From the Inquisition to Perón (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1979), 39. 20 Ibid. 21 Ben-Dror, The Catholic Church and the Jews: Argentina, 1933-1945, 7. 22 Amy K. Kaminsky, Argentina: Stories for a Nation (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008), 125. 23 Weisbrot, The Jews of Argentina: From the Inquisition to Perón, 44. 24 Kaminsky, Argentina: Stories for a Nation, 126. The “desert” refers to land outside urban areas like Buenos Aires, such as the pampas. 25 Ibid. 26 Sandra McGee Deutsch, “The Argentine Right and the Jews,” Journal of Latin American Studies 18, no. 1 (1986): 114. 19
19th and 20th Century Origins of Anti-Semitism immigration provided laborers who contributed to the construction and expansion of railroads, cities, and the export sector prior to World War I.27 This influx altered the social makeup of Argentina. Traditionally, the country consisted of a landowning elite, a small urban middle sector, a large rural lower class, and an immigrantbased middle class.28 Suddenly, foreign-born laborers overwhelmingly constituted the new urban proletariat class, as once-industrial workers began to traverse the social structure of Argentina as clerks, merchants, artisans, and tenant farmers.29 Before 1905, anarchism and socialism were popular amongst the working class, but by 1910, a third ideology attracted many: syndicalism. It sprang from members of the Socialist Party who considered parliamentary activities secondary to union struggle.30 Syndicalism gained popularity among the working class and inspired demonstrations, protests, and organizations that advocated for workers’ rights.31 Landowning criollos feared the rapidly increasing worker and immigrant classes and their ideas, growing wealth, and potential electoral strength. The oligarchy reacted by excluding them from voting, repressing unions, and criticizing foreigners for clannishness and cultural inferiority.32 Pressured by a growing liberal-democratic political rival, the Radical Party (UCR), and the need to unite the upper and middle classes against labor movements, the 1912 oligarchical government of President Roque Sáenz Peña passed a law guaranteeing universal suffrage for male citizens. This cleared the political system for middle-class men, as few lower-class people sought citizenship in the early 20th century.33 The newly-enlarged electorate awarded the presidency to UCR candidate leader Hipólito Yrigoyen in 1916. The UCR’s victory did not threaten the oligarchy because it did not challenge its monopoly on landownership, for the radical leaders themselves were an upperIbid., 114-15. Ibid., 114. 29 Ibid., 115. 30 Victor A. Mirelman, “The Semana Trágica of 1919 and the Jews in Argentina,” Jewish Social Studies 73, no. 1 (Winter, 1975), 61. Syndicalism is also known as unionism. 31 Ibid. 32 Deutsch, “The Argentine Right and the Jews,” 116. Criollo refers to a person from Spanish Latin America of pure Spanish descent. 33 Ibid. 27
Julia Kahn class faction.34 Yet Yrigoyen garnered populist appeal to the lower and middle classes that disturbed the oligarchy, whose began to veer Right politically. It saw the president as a demagogue and questioned the previously-established electoral reform that had brought him to power.35 Events outside early 20th century Argentina also affected the ideology of the oligarchical upper classes. After the Russian Revolution and rise of the Bolshevik Party in 1917, bourgeois Argentines began to consider the new threat of communism a danger to their income, property, and status.36 News of communist revolutions across Europe alarmed the propertied class, who began to view labor mobilization as evidence of a spreading leftist threat.37 With the election of Yrigoyen, the lower-class laborer movement hoped for support from the government for social legislation, improved working conditions, and higher salaries, which manifested in increased public demonstrations.38 At this time, Argentina was also suffering from a severe economic depression and social discontentment, and urban and rural leaders had begun to protest the financial situation by organizing unions and strikes.39 Pressured by the upper class who feared a communist revolt, the UCR repressed the demonstrations.40 Workers’ frustrations erupted into protests that culminated when 2,500 workers from the Pedro Vasena metal factory in Buenos Aires went on strike in December 1918.41 After less a month, on January 7, 1919, police and strikebreakers clashed with workers, killing a few strikers and wounding many others.42 This event galvanized upper-class Argentines and members of the UCR, who already considered the strikers as foreign-dominated Ibid. Ibid. 36 Ronald C. Newton, “German Nazism and the Origins of Argentine Anti-Semitism,” in The Jewish Diaspora in Latin America: New Studies on History and Literature, ed. David Sheinin and Lois Baer-Barr (New York: Garland, 1996), 208. 37 Deutsch, “The Argentine Right and the Jews,” 117. 38 Mirelman, “The Semana Trágica of 1919 and the Jews in Argentina,” 62. 39 Deutsch, “The Argentine Right and the Jews,” 117. 40 Mirelman, “The Semana Trágica of 1919 and the Jews in Argentina,” 62. 41 Ibid., 61. Strikers demanded higher wages, that the working day be reduced from 11 to eight hours, a six-day work week, and the rehiring of workers that were fired at the beginning of the strike. 42 Ibid. 34 35
19th and 20th Century Origins of Anti-Semitism anarchists that needed to be crushed and joined the police to confront them.43 The conflict escalated into a general, country-wide strike that paralyzed Argentina. The national guard summoned to aid the police. Joining government forces was the newly-organized Guardia Blanca, a civilian group of elites that were inspired to defend national institutions.44 Convinced of an imminent Argentine Bolshevik Revolution, other groups of middle- and upper-class porteños organized rapidly under the Defensores del Orden, another civilian group that united liberals, oligarchic nationalists, and clerics to implement Argentine pogroms.45 Attacking workingclass neighborhoods, they indiscriminately beat, shot, and arrested thousands of workers from January 10-12, 1919, alongside the guard and police.46 The civilian groups, police, and national guard mostly attacked foreign-born workers that “appeared” to be Russian, which was their image of the classic anarchist or socialist.47 With a fear of News of communist communism after World War revolutions across Europe I, the upper- and middle-class elite nurtured a prejudice alarmed the propertied against Russian immigrants. class, who began to view Jews were attacked because they labor mobilization as were assumed to be Russian, evidence of a spreading and Russians were assumed to be Bolsheviks.48 They were leftist threat.” considered poisoned by Soviet agents, who were thought to have inspired major uprisings amongst the Argentine working class.49 As about 80% of these Russian immigrants were Jewish, blame quickly turned anti-Semitic and Jews were accused of harboring
Ibid. Ibid., 62. Guardia Blanca translates to “White Guard.” 45 Ibid., 62-63. 46 Deutsch, “The Argentine Right and the Jews,” 118; Mirelman, “The Semana Trágica of 1919 and the Jews in Argentina,” 62-63. Defensores del Oren translates to “Defenders of Order.” A porteño is a person from Buenos Aires. 47 Mirelman, “The Semana Trágica of 1919 and the Jews in Argentina,” 62. 48 Ibid., 65-66. 49 Deutsch, “The Argentine Right and the Jews,” 118. 43
Julia Kahn communist allegiances outside Argentina.50 By 1914, many of the 110,000 Jews living in Argentina were Russian, and thus the majority fit such a stereotype.51 Although leftists of other ethnicities greatly exceeded the actual number of Jewish union members, socialists, anarchists, and later communists, the Russian origins of most Jews led other Argentines to suspect them of harboring radical communist sympathies.52 A previous incident confirmed these perceptions 10 years prior: a Jewish anarchist killed a federal police chief in 1909, and in response, rightist vigilantes attacked Jewish and workingclass neighborhoods in May 1910.53 By nature of their ancestry and appearance, Jews (specifically Ashkenazi) were thought to be an essential part of the extremist movement, evident by slogans such as, “Out with the foreigners,” and, “Death to the Jews,” and attacks that were called the Caza de los Rusos.54 These vigilante groups deliberately attacked workers and Jews in the predominantly-Jewish neighborhoods of Once, Caballito, and Villa Crespo in Buenos Aires, destroying community sites and private property.55 Disproportionately high numbers of Jews were arrested by the Defensores del Orden that claimed that it had captured the “first Argentine Soviets.”56 Dubbed La Semana Trágica, this event was a pivotal incident that influenced Argentina’s perceptions of its Jewish population. Pogroms enacted by the police, military, and civilian groups were exactly what so many Eastern European Jews had come to Argentina to escape. However, anti-communist paranoia and the fear that communists were not the only reasons that Jews were targeted during the Semana Trágica and more generally throughout the country. Anti-Semitic sentiments were already stirring decades before within the Catholic Church. Historically, antisemitism in Argentina is a combination of Mirelman, “The Semana Trágica of 1919 and the Jews in Argentina,” 62, 65. Deutsch, “The Argentine Right and the Jews,” 115. 52 Ibid., 117. 53 Ibid. 54 Mirelman, “The Semana Trágica of 1919 and the Jews in Argentina,” 61-62. The raids were called the “Hunt of the Russians,” as Jews were commonly referred to as “Russians.” Ashkenazi refers to diasporic Jews that reside, resided, or are descended from Jews in and from Central and Eastern European countries. 55 Deutsch, “The Argentine Right and the Jews,” 118. 56 Ibid. 50 51
19th and 20th Century Origins of Anti-Semitism the rejection of Jewish integration and the demand for compulsory Jewish assimilation.57 Since the beginning of mass Jewish migrations, Argentines of different ideological orientations questioned whether these new settlers could successfully integrate themselves.58 Articles published as early as 1881 castigated Baron de Hirsch’s efforts, and the liberalization of immigration policies provoked negative feelings towards Jews.59 The Church’s xenophobic accusations of the dual loyalty of Jews, or their lack of patriotism for Argentina, and claims that they were not truly Argentine spawned these reactions.60 This ideology was evident during the Semana Trágica, as the armed forces were joined by “patriotic” citizens emboldened by an “us versus them” mentality.61 They found their inspiration from the organization of the Jewish community, particularly its group insularity, and by the Zionism of Argentine Jews in the 20th century. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Jews did not assimilate as quickly as other immigrants. They followed historic patterns of worldwide Judaic diaspora, adapting to Argentine society as a modified, large ghetto arrangement centered around strong internal community institutions that emphasized tradition, education, and solidarity with local and other Jews worldwide.62 Lingering aspects of Judaism were cultural and fraternal, not religious.63 Jews did not possess strong religious identity upon their arrival in Argentina, a legacy of their secularism in Eastern Europe, and many shed more extreme religious observances.64 Eventually, the Jewish population followed the greater trend of urbanization in the early 20th century.65 Kaufman, “Jewish Victims of Repression in Argentina Under Military Rule (19761983),” 481. 58 Deutsch, “The Argentine Right and the Jews,” 117. 59 Victor A. Mirelman, “Attitudes towards Jews in Argentina,” Jewish Social Studies 37, no. 3/4 (Summer – Autumn, 1975); Weisbrot, The Jews of Argentina, 42. One such article, “L’immigration juive” appeared in an August 22, 1881 issue of L’Union française. 60 Mirelman, “Attitudes towards Jews in Argentina,” 208. 61 Ben-Dror, The Catholic Church and the Jews: Argentina, 1933-1945, 8. 62 Mauricio J. Dulfano, “Antisemitism in Argentina: Patterns of Jewish Adaption,” Jewish Social Studies 31, no. 2 (April, 1969): 123. 63 Judith Laikin Elkin, “The Argentine Jewish Community in Changing Times,” Jewish Social Studies 48, no. 2 (Spring, 1986): 175. 64 Ben-Dror, The Catholic Church and the Jews: Argentina, 1933-1945, 10-11. 65 Weisbrot, The Jews of Argentina, 70. 57
Julia Kahn Cities such as Buenos Aires saw Jews entering business and professional sectors from previous occupations as artisans, skilled and unskilled workers, peddlers and merchants, By nature of their ancestry effectively raising their social statuses.66 and appearance, Jews (specifCommunity organizations ically Ashkenazi) were thought for mutual aid, welfare, to be an essential part of the and educational, social, ritual, and cultural activity extremist movement, evident followed, as the state did by slogans such as, ‘Out with not provide such services the foreigners,’ and, ‘Death to for immigrants.67 AMIA the Jews’” was and is one of the first and most prominent social organizations of Argentine Jews, which operates in Buenos Aires and is the hub around which most Jewish communities revolve.68 The Zionism of the Jewish community inspired further accusations of “dual loyalty.” Gentiles thought that Zionist Jews were unfaithful citizens harboring stronger loyalties to an idea that would become Israel in the mid-20th century: a Jewish homeland.69 Influential among Central and Eastern European Jews, Zionism is a core aspect of most Jewish communities worldwide. It represents a common destiny for all Jews and serves as a unifier in a more permeant diaspora. Alongside Uganda and Palestine, Argentina was originally intended as a location for the gathering of diasporic communities until Theodor Herzl’s advocacy for a Jewish state in Palestine gained momentum.70
Deutsch, “The Argentine Right and the Jews,” 118. Ben-Dror, The Catholic Church and the Jews: Argentina, 1933-1945, 10-11. One such example is the Landsmanshaftn, welfare and financial associations for people coming from the same shtetl. 68 Weisbrot, The Jews of Argentina, 75, 78. AMIA began as the Hebra Kaddisha, a Jewish burial society founded in 1894, and changed its name in 1940 as it assumed philanthropic, social welfare, and educational programs for the Jewish community. 69 Elkin, “The Argentine Jewish Community in Changing Times,” 180. 70 Weisbrot, The Jews of Argentina, 87-88. Theodor Herzl is known as the Chozeh HaMedinah (the “Visionary of the State [of Israel]”) and the father of modern political Zionism. 66 67
19th and 20th Century Origins of Anti-Semitism Because of the secularist nature of European Jewish immigrants, Zionism was and remains the main “religion” of Argentine Jews.71 The community founded Zionist organizations, such as youth, sports, and fundraising groups, like AMIA.72 The Jewish community’s insularity and Zionism strengthened the Church’s existing antisemitism, which influenced Argentine society and politics. As Argentines considered ethnic cleansing a duty inherited as heirs of Spanish rule, Catholicism was also a proudlyinherited legacy of colonization. Latin America was and is one of most powerful stations of the Roman Catholic Church, which monopolizes religious and ideological matters of Argentine national culture and politics.73 Argentina’s non-secularity is written into the constitution, which defines Catholicism as the official religion and determines that Argentine presidents must be Catholic.74 As evidenced by the Patagonia massacres, Catholicism in Argentina had adopted a racist tint.75 In schools and sermons, antiecumenicist priests alluded to Jewish original sin and Jews as Christkillers.76 Various Argentine writers throughout the late 19th and early 20th demonstrated an intolerant antisemitism promoted by the Church. In 1891, author Julián Martel published his anti-Semitic novel, La bolsa, which inaugurated a new epoch in Argentine antisemitism.77 Catholic priests such as Monsignor Gustavo J. Franceschi78 and Padre Virgilio Elkin, “The Argentine Jewish Community in Changing Times,” 178. Ibid. 73 Mirelman, “Attitudes towards Jews in Argentina,” 206. 74 Dulfano, “Antisemitism in Argentina: Patterns of Jewish Adaption,” 136; Weisbrot, The Jews of Argentina, 197. 75 Finchelstein, The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War: Fascism, Populism, and Dictatorship in Twentieth Century Argentina, 53. 76 Ibid., 136. 77 Ericka Beckman, “Fiction and Fictitious Capital in Julián Martel’s ‘La Bolsa,’” Hispanic Review 81, no. 1 (Winter, 2013): 21. La bolsa was a response to Argentina’s first large-scale financial meltdown in 1890. It tells the story of Dr. Luis Glow, the son of an English immigrant, who makes a fortune in the stock market and subsequently loses everything when it crashes. Dr. Glow is accompanied by unpalatable associates, such as the German-Jewish banker Filberto von Mackser, one of the most anti-Semitic portrayals of a character in Latin American literature. 78 Newton, “German Nazism and the Origins of Argentine Anti-Semitism”, 209. Franceschi’s journal, Criterio, was subsidized by the German Propaganda Ministry and regularly published anti-Semitic articles written by Argentine and European authors. 71
Julia Kahn Filippo79 held prominent standing within Argentine society and played central roles in stereotyping Jews. Their writings redefined the image of the Jewish community, linking traditional Catholic antisemitism to new styles of racist and pseudo-biological antisemitism.80 Because of their religious statuses, their perspectives were deemed official and spread quickly through publications and discourse. Many Argentines began to view their reality through an anti-Semitic lens.81 With the advent and public adaption of the Churchâ€™s antisemitism, Jews found themselves ostracized from many aspects of public life. The combination of external events concerning gentile rejection and complacency caused the strengthening of the integral Jewish community that resulted in a parochial disinterest in political and social events.82 Further political and social ostracism turned many Jews towards Zionism, and a select group of intellectuals turned to Marxism to express their frustration with such prejudices. However, by no means were all Argentine Jews Zionists or Marxists. This middleclass minority never truly made an impact on the working class, and a large portion of Jews were also simply indifferent.83 In the early 20th century, Catholic ideologies were also adopted by nacionalistas that projected antisemitism into the political realm. Nacionalista ideology originated in the 19th century during the Patagonian genocides as a fusion of liberalism and totalitarianism.84 These early 20th-century nationalists lauded the cleansing campaigns as advancements for the white occupation of America, the spread of Christianity, and the establishment of European culture.85 They Finchelstein, The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War: Fascism, Populism, and Dictatorship in Twentieth Century Argentina, 56. Filippio did not view Jews as religious group but as a race. He believed that they endeavored endlessly to maintain their racial purity and sought to infiltrate the Argentine race, which he sought to make pure and homogenous, rendering him a hypocrite to his own desires. On his radio show, he highlighted the stereotypical biological features of Jews, such as large noses and ostentatious, thick dark hair. Filippio also claimed that, based on their history, Jews exhibited a degenerative, agitated, and vile character. 80 Ibid., 53. 81 Ibid. 82 Dulfano, â€œAntisemitism in Argentina: Patterns of Jewish Adaption,â€? 124-25. 83 Ibid., 124. 84 Finchelstein, The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War: Fascism, Populism, and Dictatorship in Twentieth Century Argentina, 13. 85 Ibid., 15. 79
19th and 20th Century Origins of Anti-Semitism considered settlers and workers of the land to be “true” Argentines whose antitheses were “foreign” nomads: Indians and leftistintellectuals, including immigrant Jews, in cosmopolitan cities.86 Such sentiments were not sudden. In 1881, La Nación newspaper published an article lambasting the inability of certain European immigrants to assimilate into Argentine society because they represented “homogenous elements” capable of decomposing society: the Jews.87 Nacionalismo found its justification in anti-communist paranoia, disdain for political and social difference that would dilute Argentina’s national identity, and an emphasis on excessive national legitimacy. Intellectuals asserted that Argentina needed a new brand of nationalism.88 Such ideas contrasted with the country’s original image as an inclusive society that welcomed immigrants to one of exclusion. In the 1920s, Argentine nacionalismo was not yet fascist, but nacionalistas began to consider Argentina a purely Catholic, anticommunist, and anti-liberal country, and thus anti-Jewish. Politicians and intellectuals began to question the benefit of the inclusive enlightenment ideas of 19th-century Argentina.89 For them, an Argentina based on the 1853 constitution would be filled with foreign, undeserving traitors, and thus the country required a dictatorial form of government to bar outside influences and consolidate the identity and autonomy of the homeland.90 Argentina had never had such a regime, but this was no matter. These new nationalists considered themselves true revolutionaries.91 Fascist ideology began to appropriate the symptoms of nationalism and denied liberalism altogether. One of the first advocates for this new ideology was writer Leopoldo Lugones, who is considered the father of fascist Argentine nationalism.92 He scorned liberal democracy and reformist socialism and advocated that societal militarization and industrial modernization under a corporate state were remedies for liberalism and anarchic Ibid., 16. Ibid. 88 Ibid., 18. 89 Ibid. 90 Ibid., 19. 91 Ibid. 92 Ibid. 86 87
Julia Kahn populism.93 With the emergence of European fascism in the early 1920s, Lugones announced his confidence in dictatorships, his “faith in the sword,” and the Argentine military, whom he considered superior to lay people and a central political power.94 He justified military force, however violent, for eliminating internal communist enemies to prevent Argentina from becoming a Soviet colony.95 Lugones was not alone. The mid-1920s saw the rise of young militants who founded publications like La Nueva República that advocated for a revolutionary dictatorship against democracy.96 They defined the Argentine population as an exclusive Catholic priori and associated “otherness” with artifice and being anti-Argentina.97 This xenophobia and ultra-nationalism fostered accusations that the fundamental foreignness of immigrants, especially Jews, caused dualloyalties.98 The Argentine Patriotic League was established in the 1920s as the first right-wing parliamentary force, linked to the UCR, police, army, aristocracy, and Church.99 As a civil guard against workers’ mobilizations, it viewed nationalism as key to social harmony.100 Antisemitism became a component of early nacionalismo, which merged with its anti-liberal, anti-democratic, and anti-communist stance, stemming from the rise of Spanish, Italian, and German fascist dictatorships.101 Writer Julio Irazusta believed that these dictatorships, unlike democracy, promoted respect and dignity.102 Nationalists fantasized about authoritarian governments decided by electoral majorities, such as those of Mussolini and Hitler.103 They Alberto Spektorowski, “The Ideological Origins of the Right and Left Nationalism in Argentina, 1930-1943,” Journal of Contemporary History 29, no. 1 (Jan., 1994): 160. 94 Finchelstein, The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War: Fascism, Populism, and Dictatorship in Twentieth Century Argentina, 20-21. 95 Ibid. 96 Ibid., 21. 97 Ibid., 24-25. 98 Kaufman, “Jewish Victims of Repression in Argentina Under Military Rule,” 481. 99 Finchelstein, The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War: Fascism, Populism, and Dictatorship in Twentieth Century Argentina, 18. 100 Ibid. 101 Ben-Dror, The Catholic Church and the Jews: Argentina, 1933-1945, 2. 102 Finchelstein, The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War: Fascism, Populism, and Dictatorship in Twentieth Century Argentina, 21. In 1931, Irazusta warned against a socialist takeover, expressing his preference for a civil war over a leftist government. 103 Ibid., 22. 93
19th and 20th Century Origins of Anti-Semitism broached Lugones’s claim of legitimate fascism rooted in power and violence, citing Lenin and Mussolini’s suppression of class struggle with authoritarian imposition, and authentic forms of political legitimacy displaced the enlightened popular sovereignty of the past.104 Individual freedom was no longer a concern. Nacionalistas legitimized dictatorial democracy because it represented the population’s power under one national character, an intrinsic faith in a single figure that stemmed from Argentina’s Catholic roots; democracy, thus, was not Argentine.105 Alongside idealized European fascism was the perception of Jews as a dangerous people who required containment. Strong anticommunist and anti-masonic platforms accompanied extremeright antisemitism that clustered Judaism, masonry, and communism as three ideologies harboring a hatred for Jesus, representing satanic radical nihilism, and linked to rising anti-Yankismo sentiments.106 Nationalists proposed that a tedious history of exile and diaspora promoted tendencies in Jews that prevented them from ever being patriots.107 Further arguments asserted that the Jews were usurpers that took advantage of foreign societies to survive.108 The political ascendency of nationalist groups coincided with Yrigoyen’s second term. Opposition to his presidency grew as nationalists accused the UCR of pandering to Jews, comparing Argentina’s more liberal immigration policies to foreign governments elsewhere that had limited Jewish immigration or restricted their participation in society.109 A 1930 coup d’état saw the rise of José Félix Uriburu, who aligned fascist nationalists with his regime as the first Argentine dictator, an admirer of Italian fascism, and a friend of Lugones. Uriburu set precedents for the kidnapping, imprisonment, torture, and execution of anarchists and those that he thought opposed his regime, and is credited for restoring the landed oligarchy Ibid. Ibid., 23. 106 Mirelman, “Attitudes towards Jews in Argentina,” 221-22. Anti-Yankismo was the belief that the United States was a decadent liberal society that was dominated by Jews and Masons whose influence was permeating and poisoning Latin America, specifically Argentina. This was not strictly a leftist view. 107 Deutsch, “The Argentine Right and the Jews,” 127. 108 Ibid. 109 Ibid. 104 105
Julia Kahn to political power.110 Uriburu hoped to create a non-deliberative corporate democracy, and after dissolving the national legislature and reforming the constitution and election laws, he held a fraudulent presidential election to ensure the oligarchy’s continued control over Argentine politics.111 His regime became the vindication for later coups, justifying subsequent violent military hijackings in the name of revolution.112 This was how nacionalistas began to understand politics: change was to come from within the military.113 Later 20th-century military coups defined themselves as revolutionaries personifying Argentine identity.114 Because of the prejudice against Jews as disloyal, plotting immigrants, antisemitism permeated military ranks. Within military academies, curriculums included the xenophobic and anti-Semitic works of figures such as Lugones, Irazusta, and Filippo for the better part of the 20th century through the 1976 junta.115 The rise of this brand of nacionalismo planted the seed of antisemitism within Argentine society, culminating in socio-political xenophobia that colored the decades leading up to the Guerra Sucia. Subsequent presidents after Yrigoyen saw the radicalization of nacionalista fascism, and new organizations were defined by profound militarism and Catholicism.116 Admiration of European fascism during World War II, economic tensions, and the fear of communist upheaval hastened the nacionalista cause, and nacionalismo gained its place as Argentina’s “ideological beacon” in a 1943 military-backed coup lead by General Arturo Rawson.117 Under this junta, antisemitism was ever-present. The Minister of Justice and Education, Gustavo Adolfo Martínez Zuviría, wrote anti-Semitic novels under the pen name Hugo Finchelstein, The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War: Fascism, Populism, and Dictatorship in Twentieth Century Argentina, 26. 111 Ibid. 112 Ibid., 31. 113 Ibid. 114 Ibid. 115 Kaufman, “Jewish Victims of Repression in Argentina Under Military Rule,” 481. 116 Finchelstein, The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War: Fascism, Populism, and Dictatorship in Twentieth Century Argentina., 28-29. 117 Finchelstein, The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War: Fascism, Populism, and Dictatorship in Twentieth Century Argentina, 31; Spektorowski, “The Ideological Origins of the Right and Left Nationalism in Argentina, 1930-1943,” 171-72. 110
19th and 20th Century Origins of Anti-Semitism Wast and, in addition to overseeing the harassment of Argentine Jews and the bombing of synagogues, he passed legislation that banned kosher meat and censored Jewish publications.118 General Juan Domingo Perón rose to power in the 1943 junta. As the Minister of Labor, he praised Mussolini and admired fascism, but as Nazi Germany fell in 1945, Perón subdued his political rhetoric to distance himself from the junta’s fascist antisemitism.119 Presenting himself as anti-fascist and democratic, he was elected president in 1946, cementing his reputation as a disingenuous politician in historical theories arose memory. Perón maintained the social reforms he had applied during about the ‘Andina his term as Minister of Labor, such Plan,’ which alleged as improving working conditions, that wealthy Jews expanding union power, enforcing labor laws, allowing paid holidays and were planning to buy vacations, and restricting conditions land in Patagonia to under which workers could be fired, establish a second yet he also created a racist immigration Jewish state.” policy that was anti-Semitic and that only encouraged white, Catholic immigrants from Spain and Italy after World War II.120 He praised the creation of Israel yet abstained from the United Nations vote, and expressed sympathy for European Jewish refugees yet limited their immigration.121 In 1955, after another junta and Perón’s exile to Spain, antisemitism thrived in subsequent regimes. They maintained
Weisbrot, The Jews of Argentina: From the Inquisition to Perón, 227-28. Martínez Zuviría’s 1935 book, El Kahal-Oro, relates the plans of world domination instigated by Jews, and was a best-seller during the early and mid-20th century. 119 Finchelstein, The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War: Fascism, Populism, and Dictatorship in Twentieth Century Argentina, 73; Weisbrot, The Jews of Argentina: From the Inquisition to Perón, 228. However, Perón’s ideological links to fascism remained. His rhetoric resembled that of Italian fascists, putting emphasis on a totalitarian state with charismatic leadership where the rights of citizens had less value than their state obligations. He proposed a synthesis of Church and state and nationalizing the Argentine central bank, gas, telephone, and railroad companies. 120 Finchelstein, The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War: Fascism, Populism, and Dictatorship in Twentieth Century Argentina, 67-68. 121 Weisbrot, The Jews of Argentina: From the Inquisition to Perón, 240. 118
Julia Kahn precarious civil-military balances amid political vacuums and exhibited political indifference derived from active anti-government opposition to Perón’s factions and economic strains.122 After World War II, these governments saw the rise of fascism again and the bombings of synagogues, the defacement of Jewish property, and the slandering of Jews in publications.123 Later juntas ruled over a period when anti-Semitic, radical, right, and former fringe groups rose to power without restraint.124 This allowed the growth of anti-Semitic groups that openly expressed and organized their hatred of Jews.125 Two of the most prominent organizations were the Arab League and the Falangist Tacuara Nationalist Movement.126 The presence of Nazi war criminals also exacerbated antisemitism. Because of a large and wealthy German minority, Argentina was an appealing refuge for ex-Nazis, and Perón and his successors permitted their immigration and protection, facilitated by Germans already living in the country.127 The capture and extraction of ex-Nazi Adolf Eichmann in May 1960 aggravated anti-Semitic sentiment. The Argentine government was infuriated because Israeli “Nazi hunters” had broken international law for personal and private grievances of revenge.128 Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir countered Dulfano, “Antisemitism in Argentina: Patters of Jewish Adaption,” 129-30; Weisbrot, The Jews of Argentina: From the Inquisition to Perón, 251. Most incidents went unpunished and under-investigated. 123 Weisbrot, The Jews of Argentina: From the Inquisition to Perón, 241. 124 Kaufman, “Jewish Victims of Repression in Argentina Under Military Rule,” 491. 125 Dulfano, “Antisemitism in Argentina: Patters of Jewish Adaption,” 130-31. The objectives of such organizations were to penetrate and expand the labor movement, to spread anti-Jewish sentiment, and to undermine the Jewish community’s internal organization by systematic terror. Anti-Zionist objectives were rooted in the notion that Zionist solidarity appeared as proof of Jewish disloyalty as Argentine citizens. 126 Dulfano, “Antisemitism in Argentina: Patters of Jewish Adaption,” 128-29; Weisbrot, The Jews of Argentina: From the Inquisition to Perón, 250-51. The Arab League was an Axis Power collaborator that viewed Zionism as an international and sinister force intent on enslaving Latin American nationalists. Prior to the 1976 junta, over 550,000 Arabs lived in Argentina. The Arab League vacillated ideologically between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. Founded in the 1940s, the Tacuara movement was an infamous violent organization that united fascism and Catholicism as the first ultranationalist organization. Spiritual founder Jesuit Julio Meinvielle charged that Jews were undermining national morality by opposing the union of Church and state. Tacuaras terrorized Jewish sites with bombs. 127 Weisbrot, The Jews of Argentina: From the Inquisition to Perón, 241-42. 128 Ibid., 247. This was the perspective of Mario Amadeo, the Argentine ambassador to 122
19th and 20th Century Origins of Anti-Semitism that Eichmann’s capture had to be excused considering his crimes and because he had enjoyed years of peace on Argentine soil.129 Even the subsequent reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Israel could not stem the tide of antisemitism. Fueled by fears of a Judeo-capitalist-communist international conspiracy led by Israel to undermine Argentine sovereignty, theories arose about the “Andina Plan,” which alleged that wealthy Jews were planning to buy land in Patagonia to establish a second Jewish state.130 After the capture of Eichmann, a 1966 coup d’état brought General Juan Carlos Onganía to power on the platform of organizing the Argentine economy through austerity and authority, thereby ending civilian democratic government until the end of the Guerra Sucia.131 Because of the tradition of fascist antisemitism in the army, Onganía’s military dictatorship targeted Jews, removing them from official positions and appointing Catholics from established families to effectively “cleanse” the government.132 The Tacuara enjoyed free reign, and raids on Plaza Once and Calle Libertad, concentrated areas of Jewish business, followed in July 1966. Protests after Onganía disbanded Congress and banned all political parties and unions led to Perón’s second presidency in 1973 following the abdication of Héctor José Cámpora and his brief presidency, during which he permitted Perón’s return to Argentina. After Perón died in 1974, his wife and vice president, Isabel Martínez de Perón, who signed a secret pact with the Argentine military and police to hunt down leftist subversives, became president.133 The 1976 military coup d’état then brought Lieutenant General Jorge Rafaél Videla to power, and thus the Proceso and Guerra Sucia began. This junta permitted fascist groups to locate undesirables and communists within Argentina. Videla used the Gravier Scandal as a springboard for military crusades against Jewish professionals and liberals, beginning with the 1977 persecution, torture, and imprisonment of Jacobo the United Nations. 129 Ibid., 248. 130 Kaufman, “Jewish Victims of Repression in Argentina Under Military Rule,” 486. 131 Weisbrot, The Jews of Argentina: From the Inquisition to Perón, 258. 132 Ibid., 258-59. 133 Antonius C. G. M. Robben, Political Violence and Trauma in Argentina (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2005): 145.
Julia Kahn Timerman, the Jewish editor of the newspaper, La Opinión.134 Antisemitism tinted the ideology and actions of military dictators, evidenced by the thousands of desaparecidos and human rights violations during the Guerra Sucia that persisted until the end of the junta in 1983. Constitutional rule returned with UCR president Raúl Alfonsín. He restored Jews to government positions and passed a law banning discrimination based on religion, race, or natural origin. However, Alfonsín also enacted laws that made it illegal to prosecute military, security, and police personnel who had committed human rights violations during the military dictatorship and junta while serving under due obedience.135 Bias against Jews thus continued to permeate the government, and society. The 1994 terrorist bombing of AMIA proved that antisemitism still existed in Argentina. Later investigations deliberated internal collusion, as the president at the time, Carlos Menem, was accused of obstructing justice and destroying potential incriminating evidence that might have revealed his complicity.136 When interviewed about local and national antisemitism in the decades after the Guerra Sucia, Argentine Jews would often recite, “Por algo será,” expressing a weariness for enduring discrimination, intolerance, and echoing sentiments of Jews worldwide for whom antisemitism is and has always been a part of life.137 Such weariness peaked again with the suspicious death of Jewish federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman on January 18, 2015. Nisman began investigating the Weisbrot, The Jews of Argentina: From the Inquisition to Perón, 272. The junta accused financier David Gravier of using his international connections to invest million dollars, extorted through ransom, in the Montoneros, a left-wing terrorist faction. Gravier’s financial empire had actually collapsed after his death in a plane crash in 1976. Because Gravier was the financial partner of La Opinión, the later was accused of collusion and participating in a Jewish-Marxist-Montonero conspiracy. Timerman wrote his memoir, Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number, about his experience in prison under the junta. 135 Shirley Christian, “Argentina Attacks Tradition of Anti-Semitism,” New York Times (New York, NY), Aug. 21, 1988. Such laws included the Ley de obediencia debida (Law of Due Obedience) in 1886 and the Ley del Punto Final (Full Stop Law) in 1887. Such laws were overturned in 2003. 136 “The AMIA/DAIA Bombing: Terror in Argentina,” Anti-Defamation League, last modified 2017, https://www.adl.org/education/resources/backgrounders/the-amiadaia-bombing-terror-in-argentina. 137 Kaufman, “Jewish Victims of Repression in Argentina Under Military Rule,” 49192. “There will [always] be something.” 134
19th and 20th Century Origins of Anti-Semitism AMIA bombings in 1994, and his findings revealed the connivance and fault of Iran and Hezbollah. The night before he was to testify before lawmakers about his accusations that then-President Kirchner had colluded with Iran to hide its role in the attacks as part of a larger deal to supply Iranian oil to Argentina, he was found dead in his home. The timing of Nisman’s death provoked skepticism as to the veracity of the official declaration of suicide, part of a case that many Argentines call “a national disgrace.”138 In September 2017, investigators declared Nisman’s death a murder. With Kirchner’s adamant denial of her knowledge of his death, of her collusion with Iran, and her impending arrest for treason, strands of anti-Jewish prejudice that have stained Argentine culture, politics, religion, and the military since the 19th century are beginning to be recognized on an international and judicial scale. In the 21st century, perhaps Argentina may finally be reckoning with its long history of and relationship with antisemitism. Works Cited Arditti, Rita. “The Grandmothers of the Plaza De Mayo and the Struggle against Impunity in Argentina.” Meridians 3, no. 1 (2002): 19-41. Beckman, Ericka. “Fiction and Fictitious Capital in Julián Martel’s ‘La bolsa.’” Hispanic Review 81, no. 1 (Winter, 2013): 17-39. Ben-Dror, Graciela. The Catholic Church and the Jews: Argentina, 1933-1945. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008. Christian, Shirley. “Argentina Attacks Tradition of Anti-Semitism.” New York Times (New York, NY), Aug. 21, 1988. “Constitución de la Nación Argentina.” Presidencia de la Nación, Ministerio de Cultura. Last modified January 11, 2017, https://www.cultura.gob.ar/constitucion-de-la-nacionargentina_3312/. Deutsch, Sandra McGee. “The Argentine Right and the Jews,” Journal of Latin American Studies 18, no. 1 (1986): 113-134. Dulfano, Mauricio J. “Antisemitism in Argentina: Patterns of Jewish Adaption.” Jewish Social Studies 31, no. 2 (April, 1969): 122144. Jonathan Gilbert and Simon Romero, “Puzzling Death of Prosecutor Grips Argentina,” New York Times (New York, NY), Jan. 19, 2017. 138
Julia Kahn Elkin, Judith Laikin. “The Argentine Jewish Community in Changing Times.” Jewish Social Studies 48, no. 2 (Spring, 1986): 175182. Finchelstein, Frederico. The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War: Fascism, Populism, and Dictatorship in Twentieth Century Argentina. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. Gilbert, Jonathan & Simon Romero. “Puzzling Death of Prosecutor Grips Argentina.” New York Times (New York, NY), Jan. 19, 2017. Kaminsky, Amy K. Argentina: Stories for a Nation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008. Kaufman, Edy. “Jewish Victims of Repression in Argentina Under Military Rule (1976-1983).” Holocaust and Genocide Studies 4, no. 4 (1989): 479-499. “Los detalles de la resolución de Bonadio y las razones por las que pidió la prisión preventiva para Cristina Kirchner.” La Nación (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Dec. 7, 2017. Mirelman, Victor A. “Attitudes towards Jews in Argentina.” Jewish Social Studies 37, no. 3/4 (Summer – Autumn, 1975): 205-220. ———. “The Semana Trágica of 1919 and the Jews in Argentina.” Jewish Social Studies 73, no. 1 (Winter, 1975): 61-73. Newton, Ronald C. “German Nazism and the Origins of Argentine Anti-Semitism.” In The Jewish Diaspora in Latin America: New Studies on History and Literature, edited by David Sheinin & Lois Baer-Barr, 199-216. New York: Garland, 1996. Osiel, Mark J. “Constructing Subversion in Argentina’s Dirty War.” Representations 75, no. 1 (Summer, 2001): 119-158. Politi, Daniel. “Judge Seeks Arrest of Ex-President of Argentina on Treason Charges.” New York Times (New York, NY), Dec. 7, 2017. Robben, Antonius C. G. M. Political Violence and Trauma in Argentina. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2005. Sarmiento, Domingo Faustino. Facundo: Civilization and Barbarism. Translated by Kathleen Ross. Berkley: University of California Press, 2003.
19th and 20th Century Origins of Anti-Semitism Spektorowski, Alberto. “The Ideological Origins of the Right and Left Nationalism in Argentina, 1930-1943.” Journal of Contemporary History 29, no. 1 (Jan., 1994): 155-184. “The AMIA/DAIA Bombing: Terror in Argentina.” Anti-Defamation League. Last modified 2017, https://www.adl.org/education/ resources/backgrounders/the-amia-daia-bombing-terror-inargentina. Trinchero, Héctor Hugo. “The genocide of indigenous peoples in the formation of the Argentine Nation-State.” Journal of Genocide Research 8, no. 2 (2006): 121-135. Weisbrot, Robert. The Jews of Argentina: From the Inquisition to Perón. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1979.
How Should the Diaspora Be Understood in Jewish History? by John Gross
ow should the Diaspora be understood in Jewish history? Jonathan Ray, a professor of Jewish Studies at Georgetown University, wrote an essay about this question. It explored the place of Sephardi Jews exiled from Iberia in the late 15th century in the broader story of the Jewish Diaspora. Ray argues that the Jewish Diaspora is not just one story that began with the destruction of the second temple in 70 C.E and has extended indefinitely. Rather, there are several distinct Jewish diasporas: Jews of different “sub-ethnic groups” settling in, leaving, and being expelled from various homelands across the world at different times and in different ways. The Jewish Diaspora is not a “monolith,” nor is it solely a “lachrymose” history of persecution and expulsion, says Ray. The Diaspora, instead, tells a far more complicated story: it is at once a symbol of persecution and freedom, of occupation and selfdetermination. This tension has divided the Jewish community about how best to treat the Diaspora in Jewish history: is it a stain or a jewel, or perhaps somewhere in between? I’ll discuss the ways in which this tension has been manifested through different forms of Jewish nationalism. More specifically, I’ll examine the works of historians, authors, and artists in order to pinpoint the underlying differences between Jewish nationalism’s many forms. 48
First, I will describe Jewish nationalism in the realm of theory, and then Jewish nationalism as it is depicted empirically, through literature and art. I’ll compare the conflicting theories of Heinrich Graetz and Simon Dubnow, and will discuss the ways in which S.Y. Agnon, Yehuda Pen, and Mark Chagall adapted and rendered those theories as depictions of human life. Only by analyzing the theory in conjunction with the evidence in this way can one paint a true picture of Jewish nationalism in 19th and 20th century Europe. And, crucially, much gets lost in translation between theory and practice that become key differentiating factors between the conflicting versions of Jewish nationalism.
will begin here by describing the two main theories of Jewish nationalism that I wish to discuss in this paper: Zionism and Diaspora Nationalism. Zionism, to give a general definition, views Judaism as a nation that must have its own, self-governed country1 (it evolved to specify that this country be the historic Jewish homeland of Palestine, but whether it originally stipulated this is unclear2). Zionism, moreover, opposes the notion that European Jewry should assimilate into mainstream European culture, arguing that Jews should instead organize among themselves, through a self-driven labor force and economy, to form a unique nation.3 While this concept has been prevalent among Jewish intellectuals for centuries, Zionism did not become a formal ideology until the late 19th century, responding to rampant anti-Semitism in Europe.4 Diaspora Nationalism is a far more nuanced, and far less wellknown concept. It argues that Jews must develop a Jewish national feeling within the Diaspora, such that countries around the world contain communities of Jews whose lives are steeped in Jewish culture; in this way, Diaspora National communities around the world are connected, as if members of the same nation, by their common embrace of Jewish culture. The tension between these two ideologies stems ultimately from their treatment of the Diaspora: Diaspora Nationalists resent “Zionism,” Encyclopædia Britannica. Sorkin, “Leo Baeck.” 3 Sorkin, David. “First Draft - Jewish Nationalism.” Received by John Gross, First Draft - Jewish Nationalism, 15 Dec.2018. 4 Zionism,” History.com. 1
John Gross Zionism’s rejection of the vibrant Jewish lifestyle that has developed during the Diaspora, whereas Zionists fear that Diaspora Nationalists underestimate the danger of the Diaspora to the continuity of Judaism.5 Zionist ideas show up prominently in the work of 19th century Polish-German historian Heinrich Graetz, who was the first Jewish historian to produce a multi-volume, comprehensive account of Jewish history (approximately a decade before the establishment of Zionism).6 In his work, Graetz claims that Judaism is governed by one, central idea, founded not on the individual, but the community. 7 Moreover, this community, and more generally Jewish life, must be grounded in a physical space. To Graetz, land is as inseparably a part of Judaism as is the Torah and the people of Israel; in fact, these three elements of Judaism are themselves inextricably connected to one another. “[The Torah, the nation of Israel and the Holy Land] are inseparably united by an invisible bond. Judaism without the firm soil of national life resembles an inwardly hollowed-out and half-uprooted tree.”8 So says Graetz, claiming that stripping the Jew of his Holy Land renders him nationless and necessarily undermines his Judaism. Graetz supports this claim by portraying the connection between the Jew, his community, and his land as something endowed and engineered by God. Indeed, as he constructs the central “idea” on which Judaism is based, Graetz observes that the role of God in Judaism—what he calls the “special God-concept”—is integral to Judaism’s identity. That God itself wishes to form the Jews into a people renders the concept of God necessarily also a “concept of the state.”9 In fact, this oneness of God and State must be recognized by the Jews, says Graetz, via a political constitution that brings God tangibly into their self-governance.10 Graetz’s idea that the Jews’ rootedness in a land is a fundamental constituent of their Judaism can easily be called “proto-Zionist.”11 And, moreover, the absolute nature of his argument, as if to say his Clarke, “Diaspora Nationalism, Yiddish Contradiction.” Sorkin, “Heinrich Graetz.” 7 Graetz, The Structure of Jewish History, 70. 8 Ibid, 71. 9 Ibid, 69. 10 Graetz, The Structure of Jewish History, 69. 11 Sorkin, David, and John Gross. “Graetz and Zionism.” 12 Dec. 2018. 5
The Diaspora in Jewish History theory is proven fact, is similar in nature to Zionism as it is leveraged socially and politically; that is, it often falsely presents itself as the only acceptable way to uplift Jews from persecution. Simon Dubnow, a 20th century, largely self-taught Russian historian, is among those who challenge the notion that Zionism and Graetz’s land-God concept exclusively reflect the essential constitution of Judaism. Dubnow, instead, subscribes to the Diaspora Nationalist school of thought. In a collection of essays on “old and new Judaism,”12 Dubnow argues that the Jew is not necessarily rooted in a fixed land but is rather rooted in “‘the Jewish national soul.’” That is, to Dubnow, the Jewish national soul is the “soil in which, deep down, lies imbedded, as an unconscious element, the Jewish national feeling, and as a conscious element, the Jewish national idea.”13 The Jewish nation in this way, Dubnow seems to argue, is a product of the Diaspora. Indeed, Dubnow believes that it is unfair to dismiss the Diaspora as a time and space exclusively in which Jews are victimized and oppressed. The Diaspora is, instead, far more formative to the Jewish people, characterizing an “uninterrupted life of the spirit, [an] aspiration for the higher and the better in the domain of religious thought, [and] moral intrepidity.”14 The Diaspora to Dubnow thus does not represent a time in which the Jew is far from his nation, but just the opposite: it represents the formation and crystallization of the Jewish national soul. Dubnow, however, does not believe that living in the Diaspora should involve assimilation. Dubnow, somewhat similar in fact to Graetz, rejects assimilation as an option for Diaspora Jews,15 instead supporting a turn inward during the Diaspora: a Jewish selfabsorption.16 Diaspora Jews become self-absorbed; that is, in that they regard “every tradition, every custom […] as a jewel,”17 in essence establishing for themselves a “spiritual nation,” rooted not in physical, but religious and cultural “soil.”18 This self-absorption, says Dubnow, Dubnow, Nationalism and History; Essays on Old and New Judaism, cover page. Ibid, 266. 14 Ibid, 269. 15 Dubnow, Nationalism and History; Essays on Old and New Judaism, 289-291. 16 Ibid, 290. 17 Ibid, 289. 18 Ibid, 289. 12 13
John Gross is indispensable to the survival of the Jews’ nationhood: for, just as political nations require military protection, so do spiritual nations require spiritual protection.19
ut Graetz and Dubnow present only theories, not lived experience or even modern-day depictions of their versions of Jewish nationalism. Their claims thus cannot be foolproof. They cannot simply be applied schematically to real-life cases. To be sure, vestiges of both Zionist and Diaspora Nationalist theory show up implicitly in Jewish literary work, particularly that of 20th-century Eastern European author S.Y. Agnon, as well as artists Yehuda Pen and Marc Chagall. But the shortcomings of the theory are evident as well— Zionist and Diaspora Nationalist theory take on distinctly modern and personalized forms in the works of Agnon, Pen, and Chagall. I’ll begin with Agnon: he depicts modern, abstract renderings of both Zionism and Diaspora Nationalism in his novel A Simple Story, which takes place in Szybusz, Galacia at the turn of the twentieth century.20 A Simple Story is a peculiar type of love story about two cousins: Hirshl, a middle class, sixteen-year-old boy, and Blume, a recently orphaned daughter of two poor parents. Blume goes to work as a maid in her cousin Hirshl’s home, and Hirshl, despite Blume’s status as low-class, swoons for her. After a brief romance, Blume suddenly leaves Hirshl’s house, which sends Hirshl into a fit of insanity. This lasts until Hirshl is married to a different woman—this time of equal socio-economic footing as him—as part of an arranged marriage. Class, it is clear, becomes an underlying theme of the story. Though there’s no mention of it in Graetz’s writings, class is a major theme that is intimately connected to Zionism in Agnon’s rendering. Class and Jewish nationalism are explicitly connected early on in the story, when Hirshl joins a local Zionist organization called the Society for Zion. In the story, the Society for Zion is composed exclusively of boys from comfortable, middle class families who gather together to read and play chess. Only sometimes does the society sing “sad songs of longing for Zion,”21 or discuss matters relating to Dubnow, Nationalism and History; Essays on Old and New Judaism, 290. Laor,“Agnon, Shemu’el Yosef.” 21 Agnon, A Simple Story, 18. 19
The Diaspora in Jewish History Zionism. As such, the society attracts many non-Zionists, such as Hirshl,22 who come, it appears, to enjoy the company of others, or, perhaps, just to be steeped in middle class culture. In this way, Zionism is depicted almost as a front—a code-word, if you will, for if not wealth, then financial comfort. Moreover, Hirshl and his parents’ complete indifference towards Zionism as an ideology23 shows that it, at least to well-off families in Szybusz, is almost void of its original meaning. Zionism, in some sense, becomes not about what Graetz describes as being rooted to a physical land, but rather, more simplistically, about bringing together upper-class communities. Nowhere else in the story is Zionism mentioned this explicitly. However, the fundamental concept of Zionism, as well as that of Diaspora Nationalism, are in some sense what underlie the arc of the story. That is, in the novel, the physical rootedness Graetz attributes to Zionism, as well as Dubnow’s concept of spiritual rootedness, are pitted, thematically, against each other. Hirshl represents physical rootedness in that he refuses to leave the comfort of his home to go in pursuit of Blume.24 In this sense, he is stuck in a household, perhaps representative of a nation, in which everyone is the same, especially as it concerns wealth. And even when Hirshl marries his wife Mina and leaves his home, he remains within the same sphere of well-off Jews.25 Blume, on the other hand, seems indifferent towards the space she exists in and even the people with which she spends her life. After leaving Hirshl’s house, she goes to work at another home, nearly eliminating all contact with Hirshl and his parents. And, towards the end of the story, when Blume is introduced to a man whom she is expected to marry, she rejects him, thus choosing not to physically root herself in any one household.26 She is, instead, rooted in her books—a practice she inherited from her father27—creating for herself almost a spiritual sense of home, as Dubnow might characterize it. Agnon’s novel is quite abstract and difficult to decipher, which makes pinpointing the precise representations of Zionism and Ibid, 18. Ibid, 18. 24 Agnon, A Simple Story. 25 Ibid, 87 26 Ibid, 157 27 Ibid, 20-24. 22 23
John Gross Diaspora Nationalism somewhat uncertain. But less abstract in his depictions of Jewish nationalism is 20th-century Eastern European painter Yehuda Pen. Pen, who was born into a poor Jewish family,28 channels Dubnow’s theory of Diaspora Nationalism in his paintings, particularly the idea that Diaspora Jews must embrace their uniquely Jewish culture while existing in non-Jewish societies. However, in a fashion similar to Agnon, Pen imbues his message with the theme of class, which is not explicitly present in Dubnow’s work. Pen’s paintings are hyper-realistic, heightening the emotional impact and honesty of his depictions of class and nationalism. In this way, he is able to identify with the masses of Diaspora Jewry, particularly those in Eastern Europe who routinely struggled with poverty.29 A 1914 painting entitled Clockmaker (Figure 1) is one of Pen’s most lifelike renderings of European Diaspora Jewry. In it, Pen depicts a modest clockmaker who has taken a rest in his shop. The clockmaker’s appearance is unkempt, with a long, straggly beard and black, somewhat ragged clothing, indicating that he is certainly not a member of the elite. Surrounding him are various clocks, some finished and some in progress, but, curiously, no explicit signs of the Jewish religion: he wears a hat, not a kippa, and there is no mezuzah or star of David in the shop that might indicate his Judaism. However, the man in the painting has clearly not assimilated, as evidenced by the newspaper in his hands, which is written in Yiddish: the language of European Diaspora Jewry.30 And what’s more, he is reading the back page of the paper, a spot typically designated for local community gossip.31 He is thus immersed in his Jewish community, which is precisely the power that Dubnow attributes to Diaspora Nationalism and the spiritual nation: that Diaspora Jews, so far from their historic homeland and disparate across the world, are still strung together by a communal cultural identity. The nuance, of course, is that Pen’s version of Dubnow’s theory creates a spiritual nation inseparable from the consideration of class. Pen, by foregrounding class in his paintings, indeed made Sorkin, “Yehuda Pen.” Sorkin, “Yehuda Pen.” 30 Ibid. 31 Ibid. 28 29
The Diaspora in Jewish History
Figure 1: Yehuda Pen, Clockmaker
artwork as if he was a spokesperson for all of Diaspora Jewry, conveying themes of home as well, as if to say that he had found his home among the Jewish masses. One of Penâ€™s paintings, entitled House Where I Was Born (Figure 2), presumably also from the early twentieth century, conveys this message by depicting, quite simplistically, a house. The house, however, is rather decrepit, the wooden panels of the exterior peeling off and the ceiling almost caving in. But the setting is serene, with a blue sky strewn with white and grey clouds in the background. Pen, here, seems to be conveying nostalgia and a sense of pride; he does not harbor disdain towards his life as a low-class Jew, rather he reveres it. This house is, in many ways, a symbol of his spiritual nation within the Diaspora, which he seems proudly to call home. Beyond just living as a painter, Pen also spent his life teaching and mentoring the next generation of Jewish European artists. Penâ€™s 55
Figure 2: Yehuda Pen, The House Where I Was Born
most famous pupil, and in fact one of the most famous artists of the twentieth century,32 was Belarus-born Marc Chagall. Chagall, having inherited modernist influences from artists such as Pablo Picasso,33 packaged Yehuda Pen’s message in a wholly different form, but still channeled Dubnow’s Diaspora Nationalism. And, moreover, whereas Pen tended to depict realistic, almost self-explanatory figures, Chagall painted abstract renderings in order to depict less-concrete symbols and archetypes of Diaspora Jews. The abstract nature of Chagall’s paintings, as well as the common-folk figures and symbols they portray, made it such that any Jew could relate to the content. The Jewish archetype perhaps most prevalent in Chagall’s paintings is the “Wandering Jew.” “Wandering” in this context has several meanings and connotations, but I will focus here on the idea that it characterizes a search for the Jewish homeland. In Chagall’s 1914 painting Wandering Jew (Figure 3), a black-clad, hunchbacked Jew is venturing away from a village, but it is not clear where he is travelling to. By creating a setting that is simple and ambiguous, 32 33
Sorkin, “Marc Chagall.” Ibid.
The Diaspora in Jewish History Chagall seems to be commenting on what Diaspora Jews wander in search of. They wander in search of home, yes, but perhaps their home remains in the Diaspora; it does not need to be their historical home of Palestine. This theme of “wandering” gives Chagall’s message more intentionality than Pen’s. Indeed, Pen’s paintings seem almost to portray one, particular Diaspora Jewish community—quite possibly his own—making fewer statements on the general mentality of Jews in the Diaspora. Chagall, however, seems to be showing the deliberateness of Diaspora Jews as a collective: they do not remain in the Diaspora because they have no other choice, but instead they choose to wander and choose to settle in the Diaspora. Moreover, Chagall’s method of abstract art allows him to deliver Figure 3: Marc Chagall, Wandering Jew this theme, which seems far more abstract than those Pen portrays, to the largest audience and in a way that resonates on an emotional and theoretical level, as opposed to a practical one. The Diaspora as a chosen home is a prominent theme in some of Chagall’s more famous paintings, two of which are I and the Village (1911, Figure 4) and The Fiddler (1912, Figure 5). I and the Village is an abstract depiction of home, containing, at the foreground, two large heads facing each other and smiling: one is of a lamb and one is of a human: a depiction of the modest farm-lives of Diaspora Jews. In the background is a town, which, based on the architecture, is presumably a European town (perhaps Chagall’s hometown of Vitebsk, Belarus.34) The painting, being multi-colored and containing several different figures and buildings, instantly gives off feelings of joy and vibrancy, 34
Sorkin, “Marc Chagall.”
John Gross Figure 4: Marc Chagall, I and the Village
Figure 5: Marc Chagall, The Fiddler
The Diaspora in Jewish History notions that are less prominent in Pen’s subtler and more neutrally colored paintings. The Fiddler conveys a similar message. The foreground of the painting is of a modestly clad man who is standing on a roof and playing a fiddle. He, appearing giddy and full of joy, towers over the buildings that fill the background, which again seems to depict a European town. In both paintings, the human figure, simple and making no distinctions of class, is the focus, as if to declare that all Diaspora Jews have the agency to choose the Diaspora as their home. Chagall’s message of individual agency is perhaps most apt to package the intricacies and underlying tensions surrounding the treatment of the Jewish Diaspora. And it is the best message with which to close this paper. For what Jonathan Ray warns against is constructing a monolithic story of individual Diaspora Jewish experiences. And in that same vein, the conversations that I have facilitated between Graetz and Dubnow, and later Agnon, Pen, and Chagall, have, I hope, helped illustrate a confluence of responses to the Diaspora.
o one conceptualization of or response to the millenia-long Jewish Diaspora (or perhaps Jewish Diasporas) is inherently wrong, but nor is one more valid than others. Out of Zionism, Diaspora Nationalism, and the several other Jewish Diaspora ideologies that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there is no right answer. But they all must exist with the acknowledgement that the others can exist with equal validity. In America I am a Diaspora Jew but have no plans of relocating to Israel. Some American Jews do. But the Diaspora need not have this subtext of intentionality, that one must emerge from the Diaspora. The Diaspora deserves to be recognized rightfully as a transnational Jewish homeland, equal in validity as our historic home in Palestine.
Works Cited Agnon, Shmuel Yosef. A Simple Story. The Toby Press, 2014. Clarke, Diana. “Diaspora Nationalism, Yiddish Contradiction: a Conversation with Max Sparber.” In Geveb: A Journal of Yiddish 59
John Gross Studies, 12 Mar. 2017, ingeveb.org/blog/diaspora-nationalismyiddish-contradiction. Dubnow, Simon. Nationalism and History; Essays on Old and New Judaism. Atheneum, 1970. Graetz, Heinrich, and Ismar Schorsch. The Structure of Jewish History: and Other Essays. The Jewish Theolog. Seminary of America, 1975. Kohn, Jerome, and Ron H. Feldman, editors. “The Jew as Pariah: A Hidden Tradition.” The Jewish Writings, by Hannah Arendt, Schocken Books, 2007, pp. 275-297. Laor, Dan. “Agnon, Shemu’el Yosef.” YIVO | Poland: Poland from 1795 to 1939, www.yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Agnon_ Shemuel_Yosef. Sorkin, David, and John Gross. “Graetz and Zionism.” 12 Dec. 2018. Sorkin, David. “First Draft - Jewish Nationalism.” Received by John Gross, First Draft - Jewish Nationalism, 15 Dec. 2018. Sorkin, David. “Heinrich Graetz.” Making European Culture Jewish. 25 Sept. 2018, New Haven, William L. Harkness Hall. Sorkin, David. “Leo Baeck.” Making European Culture Jewish. 25 Oct. 2018, New Haven, William L. Harkness Hall. Sorkin, David. “Marc Chagall.” Making European Culture Jewish. 15 Nov. 2018, New Haven, William L. Harkness Hall. Sorkin, David. “Yehuda Pen.” Making European Culture Jewish. 13 Nov. 2018, New Haven, William L. Harkness Hall. “Zionism.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 18 July 2016, www.britannica.com/topic/Zionism. “Zionism.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 21 Aug. 2018, www.history.com/topics/middle-east/zionism.
Henry Roth and the Generative Power of Translation Roth gives the Jew a seat at the table of modernism by Eric Margolis
all It Sleep is one of the great texts of the Jewish-American literary canon. Published in 1934, Henry Roth’s novel stars the eightyear-old David Schearl and his coming-of-age experiences, ranging from him learning the story of why his parents left Poland, to forging a friendship with the Polish-Catholic Leo, to beginning to study the Torah in Hebrew School. The novel has won increasing critical interest over the years for its vivid portrait of immigrant life in New York’s Lower East Side as well as its dense exploration of Jewish textuality, weaving together the stories of Isaiah and the Passover sacrifice. Call It Sleep has also earned renown as a multilingual novel, with not only English and Hebrew but also Yiddish and Polish playing large roles in the novel’s stylistic, formal, and motific structures. Jewish-American literature necessarily inhabits a deeply 62
multilingual space, from 19th-century authors like Abraham Cahan, whose protagonists struggle to learn English, to 20th-century masters like Saul Bellow, who spoke four languages fluently. Examining multilingualism alongside processes of translation reveals the essential linkage between texts and people, places, and bodies. Hana Wirth-Nesher concludes that these multilingual “works and the many others… confirm Linda Pastan’s acute hearing when her inner ear sensed that—‘Far beyond the lights of Jersey, Jerusalem still beckons us, in tongues.’”1 ‘Tongues’ refers to both a religious ‘speaking in tongues’ and to the physical mouths and bodies of speaker and listener. The instinctual, spiritual call of Jewish texts demands bodily experience. Not just Hebrew, but multilingualism of all kinds creates a juxtaposition that reminds a reader that each language has a body of its own—its own set of specific sounds and forms that differs in palpable ways from those of other languages. Jonathan Culler describes how, in analyzing a text, a reader should account for the meaning of the words, the meaning of the form, and the meaning of the utterance.2 By doing all three, we acknowledge the body and the personhood of both speaker and text. Multilingual texts force the reader to confront not only the uniqueness of different languages but also the nexus of meaning that unites words, form, and body. Questions of how we understand translation involve real stakes for the culture and person at hand, reader and author alike. Call It Sleep should also be considered one of the great texts of the Western canon of high-modernism. The novel’s portrayal of urban life, dynamic use of stream of consciousness and multilingual pun, and development of a mythic subtext merit comparison with works such as James Joyce’s Ulysses, or William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. Call It Sleep is a deeply Jewish text and a deeply modern text, which becomes becomes a hybrid Jewish-modernist text through its use of multilingualism. Roth uses multilingualism as a formal and stylistic device to create a modernist masterpiece, and accordingly suggests the rich, generative possibilities of translation, cultural appropriation, and assimilation. Roth begins Call It Sleep by describing new immigrants arriving Hana Wirth-Nesher, Call It English (Princeton University Press, 2006), 176. Jonathan Culler, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 1997, ProQuest Ebook Central), 56. 1
Eric Margolis at Ellis Island and reuniting with their family members: The most volatile races, such as the Italians, often danced for joy, whirled each other around, pirouetted in an ecstasy; Swedes sometimes just looked at each other, breathing through open mouths like a panting dog; Jews wept, jabbered, almost put each other’s eyes out with the recklessness of their darting gestures; Poles roared and gripped each other at arm’s length as though they meant to tear a handful of flesh; and after one pecking kiss, the English might be seen gravitating toward, but never achieving an embrace. (11) Roth replaces the spoken language of his multilingual cast of characters with physical, bodily expression. His use of “jabbered” and “roared” evokes a verbal eruption that does not involve words, but rather gestures, nonsensical sounds, and even dance. By substituting stereotypical but culturally encoded bodily expression for verbal expression, Roth alerts a reader to the notion that each can stand for the other—that Jewish language (Yiddish) equals Jewish physical expression, and vice-versa. Cultural, historical, and bodily experience, all intertwined, must undergo translation in instances of migration. Even the English immigrants, who speak the language of the text, are rendered mute. In fact, the English in this scene, who “gravitate toward” but “never achieve”, serve as a metaphor for the relationship of foreign languages to English in Call It Sleep. Yiddish, Polish, and Hebrew, the primary “other” languages of the text, gravitate towards American English, the literal and lingual setting of the story, but never achieve full embrace—the different languages do not perfectly cohere to one another and therefore cannot be perfectly translated. Critics concur that the four languages have different uses in the text: Yiddish is the language of home; English is the language of the streets; Polish is the language of the Old World; and Hebrew is the language of spirituality and religion.3 But Roth does not simply Wirth-Nesher, 80. “Yiddish serves him at home, English assaults him on the street, and Hebrew and Aramaic beckon to him as mysterious languages, sacred tongues that represent mystical power and that initiate him into Jewishness as spirituality.” Brian MacHale, “Henry Roth in Nighttown”, New Essays on Call It Sleep edited by Hana Wirth-Nesher (Cambridge University Press, 1996), 82. MacHale writes that the 3
Henry Roth and the Generative Power of Translation use different languages to different ends. Each language also has a distinct form and physical presence; that is to say that David does not simply interact with different languages to different ends, but that each languages is essentially unique. Roth’s formal techniques and translation methods in the mediating language of English create this substantive difference between the languages, while also constituting the modernist achievement of the novel. This ‘modernist achievement’ can be seen as the formal and thematic motifs that Call It Sleep shares with James Joyce’s Ulysses. The two novels have a network of welldocumented similarities, from a narrator that wobbles between thirdperson indirect voice and first-person stream of consciousness, to a complex novelistic structure based on mythology and religion.4 In the case of Roth, however, it is his process of translation—his use of embodied Jewish languages—that generates modernist aesthetics, from the flowing Victorian beauty of Roth’s Yiddish translations, to the Hebrew texts that encompass the novel’s religious subtext, to the accented English of the multi-ethnic New Yorkers. Roth translates the Yiddish of his characters into beautiful but outdated Victorian-era English. Roth presents this Victorian aesthetic as an old-fashioned mode of expression that looks neither inward to human consciousness, nor outwards towards a greater mythology. The title of the first chapter, “The Cellar”, becomes a fitting metaphor for Yiddish as a language of the Old World. The first Yiddish sentence spoken in the text, “And this is the Golden Land” (11), is viscerally poetic and genteel. This Victorian flair is even more visible in David’s interactions with his mother: ‘The weather grows warm. Whom will you refresh with the icy lips the water lent you?’ ‘Oh!’ She lifted his smiling face. ‘You remember nothing,’ she reproached him, and with a throaty chuckle, lifted him in her arms. The faint familiar warmth and odor of her skin and hair. ‘There!’ novel’s four chapters each have a “key language and a correspondingly different confrontation of languages” that plays a unique role in David’s consciousness and growth. 4 MacHale, 76. Ulysses and Call It Sleep both: 1) Demonstrate the complexity of modern urban experience via stream of consciousness; 2) Vary in narrative technique and dominant motif from section to section; 3) Present a web of motifs that span the entire text; 4) Have a mythic or religious subtext.
Eric Margolis She laughed, nuzzling his cheek, ‘but you’ve waited too long; the sweet chill has dulled.’ (18) David’s mother takes him in her arms and nuzzles him with her Yiddish; even her throaty chuckle is given bodily emphasis. Roth’s use of “whom” and semicolons, alongside extravagant phrases like “the weather grows warm”, represent a version of English spoken by no one on the Lower East Side in the 1920s, but nevertheless an English that abides by the rules of grammar and traditional linguistic beauty. Even the “brusque”, “unbending” Albert talks like a peeved Englishman—“As if those blue-coated mongrels in there weren’t mocking me enough” (12). At the end of the chapter, David gets lost, and his Yiddish accent prevents him from communicating the name of his street to a policeman. Yiddish in Call It Sleep represents an obstacle—a cage—preventing David being able to live and thrive in an English-speaking America. Yiddish stands in contrast to Hebrew, which Roth translates into high modernist poetry. Hebrew becomes a transcendental stimulant, tossing David into a world of mythological symbol—a world that is paradoxically Christian in form and content. Later in the novel, David becomes skilled at reciting the Torah at Hebrew school. After David is bullied into plunging a piece of zinc into the railroad tracks, producing a spark, he rushes to the synagogue to read Torah. There, as he recites the Hebrew aloud, he experiences a sort of transcendence: All [David’s] senses dissolved into sound. The lines, unknown, dimly surmised, thundered in his heart with limitless meaning, rolled out and flooded the last shores of his being. Unmoored in space, he saw one walking on impalpable pavements that rose with the rising trees. Or were they trees or telegraph-poles, each crossed and leafy, none could say, but forms stood there with footholds in unmitigated light. And their faces shone because the light in their midst was luminous laughter. (255-56) Roth overwhelms a reader with language of poetic transcendence. Meaning is “limitless,” texture is “impalpable”. The inundation of suffixes “im” and “un” convey the remoteness of David’s experience. Roth’s first four sentences are full of fluid clauses and half-rhymes 66
Henry Roth and the Generative Power of Translation separated by commas, producing a flooding rhythm: the consonance of “senses dissolved” and “impalpable pavements”, the half-rhyme of “rolled” and “flooded”, the alliteration of “forms” and “footholds”. This rush of lyricism is punctuated by the reappearance of the biblical in the final sentence, “And their faces shone because the light in their midst was luminous laughter”. Roth begins the sentence with the biblical marker “And”, as the whole sentence overflows with biblical diction and syntax. “Thundered” has both a biblical and modernist sensibility.5 Roth displaces David from the physical world (“unmoored in space”) and even conflates the Jewish ritual of reciting Hebrew with the Christian imagery of crosses. Hebrew provides David access to a transcendent, spiritual experience, portrayed on the page in a modernist poetic style that is specifically non-Jewish in form. The Hebrew in Call It Sleep also forms a mythic subtext that merits comparison to Joyce’s treatment of The Odyssey as a backbone for Ulysses. This cross-textual structure comes to fruition in the climax of the novel, when David dips milk ladles into train tracks and receives a powerful electric shock. A bystander shouts “Christ i’s a Kid!” (420). A reader is aware by this point in the novel that Kid refers to the goat in the song “Chad Godya.” This goat refers to the Passover sacrifice, a crucial component of the Exodus story in which the Israelites escaped slavery in Egypt. Roth reinforces the connection through David’s vivid, italicized fantasies: “‘Chadgodya!’ moaned the man in the wires. ‘One kid one only kid’” (427). This climactic moment, grounded in religious intertextuality, only takes shape via multilingual pun that conflates Jesus Christ and Chad Godya.6 Roth makes David’s sacrifice equivalent to the sacrifice of Jesus by means of multilingualism. He transforms the non-Jewish form of his symbolism into Jewish content by using Hebrew oral recitation as the means that generates all of these forms in the first place. English is different from Hebrew or Yiddish in Call It Sleep because it does not need to be translated. David uses English to communicate with the outside world—with the Polish-Catholic Leo, with a Chinese shop owner, with police officers. English serves as the “What the Thunder Said” (TS Eliot, “The Waste Land”) and “When Moses stretched out his staff towards the sky, the Lord sent thunder and hail” (Exodus 9:23) 6 Wirth-Nesher, 88. 5
Eric Margolis medium through which all of the linguistically distinct characters can communicate with one another. However, Roth renders the English of every character in the novel as distinctly butchered. English is, in fact, the most difficult language to parse in the entire text. An Italian street cleaner tells a group of kids to get out of his way: “Ah kicka duh assuh! Geeda duh!” (Roth, 243); a Jewish butcher defends them: “Fav’y you push dis, ha?” (244). At Callahan’s bar, Jim Haig, an oiler, exclaims: “I ain’t ‘ed any Roth insists on the fish ’n’ chips since the day I left sheer trauma and ‘ome” (411); the fat Bill Whitney shocking difficulty of nonsensically responds: “Harrh! There’s night I’d take my bible navigating translation, of oath, these stairs uz higher” (411). attempting to bridge the The resulting mess on gaps between cultural the page, while alienating to a and textual bodies.” reader, gives English its own embodied voice. The characters’ first languages—Yiddish, Italian, Polish, or anything else—remain latent in their English through Roth’s careful preservation of accent and multilingual pun. Yiddish words and jokes frequently slip into the English of the characters. Some examples include David misinterpreting “molar” as “molleh” (someone who performs circumcisions), “cocaine” as “kockin” (“to shit”), and “Christmas” as “Crotzmich” (“scratch me”).7 None of the languages lose their unique shape and form when translated into English. This version of English, overwhelmed with apostrophes, misspellings, and multilingual puns, stands in contrast with a higher register of a literary tone also created by multilingualism—the Victorian beauty of Yiddish and the modernist mythology of the Hebrew. The characters’ ongoing attempts to translate their thoughts and feelings is precisely what results in a modernist cacophony worthy of Gertrude Stein. Roth’s English thus immerses a reader into the uniquely complex modern urban experience of the novel’s characters, engaged in continuous acts
Werner Sollers, “Language, Nostalgic Mournfulness, and Urban Immigrant Family Romance in Call It Sleep”, New Essays on Call It Sleep edited by Hana Wirth-Nesher (Cambridge University Press, 1996), 134. 7
Henry Roth and the Generative Power of Translation of translation. The linguistic madness comes to a head at the novel’s conclusion. David’s relentless parsing of Yiddish, Polish, Hebrew and English culminates in an explosion of coarse mob-talk alternating with sheer poetic beauty that depicts the inner workings of David’s consciousness. The crowd calls out “Hot! Jesus!” (424) “Ain’t it a dirty shame” (425) and W’ea’s ‘e boined?” (425), while italicized sections speak of “darkness fathomless” (426), “infinite mirrors” (427), and “the funnel of night” (429). Joshua Lambert argues that a profusion of obscene language prior to this climactic scene results “in a kind of purification for David, reported in oblique and lyrical language… Afterward, not another taboo word appears in David’s thoughts.”8 The overwhelming power of linguistic and literal electric force knocks David out at the climax of the novel. Roth insists on the sheer trauma and shocking difficulty of navigating translation, of attempting to bridge the gaps between cultural and textual bodies. Roth’s method of translation, utilizing embodied languages, accent, and multilingual pun, creates a dramatic manifestation of the Jewish body and Jewish voice in Western, modernist form. The basis of Roth’s formal experimentation and modernism is achieved by the act of translation. Michael North demonstrates how British and American modernists became “modern by acting Black”—how AfricanAmerican dialect was used as a liberating tool for artists like TS Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, Gertrude Stein, and more.9 What we see then in Call It Sleep is a reversal, where Henry Roth became Jewish by acting modern, appropriating Christian and modernist devices to tell a Jewish story. The relationship between text and body plays a crucial role in this act of translation. Roth writes:
Joshua Lambert, Unclean Lips (New York University Press, 2013, ProQuest Ebook Central), 84-86. 9 Michael North, The Dialect of Modernism: Race, Language, and Twentieth-Century Literature (Oxford University Press, 1994), 17. 8
Eric Margolis (Zwank! Zwank! Nothingness beatified reached out its hands. Not cold the ember was. Not scorching. But as if all eternity’s caress were fused and granted in one instant. Silence) (430) “Nothingness” is a word that, while empty and void, once embodied on the page, can reach out to a reader. Roth begins with sound and ends with silence. He surrounds lyrical obliquity with forceful sonic presence and lack of presence, reminding a reader that texts begin with physicality, and that language begins with orality. “‘Call it sleep’ is a tentative translation itself,” Wirth-Nesher writes, “from an inchoate sensation into a word… and also from a concept or experience in one language into a word from another. The source word “it’ remains inaccessible in English, because translation is always incomplete.”10 The novel ends with this “tentative translation”—exactly as a masterwork of Jewish-American fiction, a work that translates between Jewish and Western texts, between the Jewish voice and American society, should. Roth’s act of translation evokes a kinship between the Jewish and Western traditions and languages, creating new aesthetic forms as well as a new approach to literary modernism that is predicated on Jewishness. Call It Sleep thus becomes a powerful statement on the positive, generative possibilities of cultural assimilation, appropriation, and translation. Henry Roth places the Jewish voice and the Jewish body on the Western page. This embodied multilingualism becomes a formal device that renders modernism on the page, creating a work of art that aligns with the Western standards of a high-modernist novel. By using Jewish languages and Hebrew textuality to accord to a Western structure, Roth’s novel suggests the possibilities of generative assimilation through linguistic and cultural translation. The result is not just a Jewish text, and not just a modernist text, but also Jewishmodernist text. The result is a multiplicity of meanings, an abundance of possibilities for a reader. The unique power and resonance of Call It Sleep emerges from this generative intersection between Jewish languages and Western art. 10
The Solitudes of Adrienne Rich by Daniel Dov Yadin
he Jews among whom Adrienne Rich felt most rooted are those who were turned to smoke. Ethereal, weightless, floating high above the camps and the tracks yet indelibly rooted in, shaped by (burned by) their condition as Jew. “Reading of the chimneys against the blear air / I think I have seen them myself,” she writes in “Sources,” “the fog of northern Europe licking its way / along railroad tracks // to the place where all tracks end.” Southern Jew of patrilineal descent, daughter of a Protestant mother and Jewish father, Rich was famously split at the root between her social Christianity and her deep connection to Jewishness. In her genteel white world at Radcliffe, back when being Jewish meant something to the WASPs of Cambridge, the basic split of her heritage was more than a question of affinity for one tradition over another, but a negotiation between outsiderhood and inclusion, distance from privilege and embrace of it. She writes to her father, “I saw the power and arrogance of the male as your / true watermark; I did not see beneath it the suffering of the Jew, / the alien stamp you bore, because you had deliberately arranged that / it should be invisible to me.” That alien stamp, she knows, is inherited, stored in the genetic code and in juridical structures; her particular blood quantum would have made her “a Mischling, first-degree—nonexempt from the Final Solution.” That is, Jewishness is an inescapable fact of a Jew’s existence. There is no structure in Judaism for excommunication, no grand hierarchical organization from which to disaffiliate. One does not resign from the chosen people. 72
But world Jewry is an impossibly large construction, and the alien stamp forms different conditions for different Jews. As Geoffrey Hartman writes, “God is One, but mankind or the Jewish people are not.” Rich, living the assimilated life of a doctor’s daughter on the oppressive side of her local racial formation, struggled with her positions both within Mississippi and the whole of Am Yisrael. “All during World War II / I told myself I had some special destiny: / there had to be a reason / I was not living in a bombed-out house / or cellar hiding out with rats,” she writes in “Sources”: “split at the root whiteskinned social christian / neither gentile nor Jew.” Rich places herself in communion with the incinerated Jews of the Holocaust as she stands apart from them, wrent by the apparent theoretical incommensurability of her material conditions, her nonhalakhic Judaism, and her experiences of marginalization. Her gaze toward Europe, the inward examination of the oppression structuring Jewish life and death, contravenes the wishes of her father—builder of a “rootless ideology,” he “who had tried to move in the floating world of the assimilated”—“to become / a citizen of the world // bound by no tribe or clan.” Scholars including Nell Irvin Painter and Karen Brodkin have argued that disavowing allegiance to a “tribe or clan” is a prerequisite for the acceptance of phenotypically-white national groups into the American social position of whiteness. American power is held by the deracinated who live in communities of one, a status to which Rich’s father aspired, and, to some level, attained. The assertion that “There’s nothing left now but the food and the humor” which Rich explores in Part XVII of “Sources” is apt; not only did assimilation hasten the decline of a robust American cultural Judaism, but assimilation could not have happened at all without that decline. Yet, Rich retorts, “There is something more than food, humor, a turn of phrase, a gesture of the hands: there is something more.” It is the search for this something more that has motivated the actions of vast swaths of American Jews since most assimilated into whiteness. For many, like Rich’s father, Zionism mediated the contradictions between a deracinated white American life and a communal Jewish impulse, sublimating an ingrained sense of “tribe or clan” in a form of peoplehood acceptable to the structure of American whiteness: European Jews establishing a settler-colony in the Arab 73
Daniel Yadin Middle East. “You told me not to look [toward the Holocaust] // to become / a citizen of the world” she writes to her father, “yet dying you followed the Six Day War / with desperate attention.” The existence of the State of Israel complicates the diasporic debate between asserting a solitary existence apart from the Jewish People, thus assimilating into the Gentile mass, and maintaining a multitudinous sensibility that separates one from the diasporic society and brings one closer to the pan-national Jewish collectivity. Israel allows the white American Jew to claim both. Yet Rich evinces a deep distrust of the Zionist project in “Sources.” The “women who sailed to Palestine / years before” her birth—the halutzot—faced patriarchal oppression there, too, in the supposed utopia of Jewish resurgence. “Jeered / as excitable, sharp of tongue // too filled with life / wanting equality in the promised land,” the early Zionist women carried in their hearts the broken promises of the movement, the “half-chances, unresolved / possibilities, the life // passed on because unlived.” Its liberatory project was incomplete. “Zion by itself is not enough,” she writes. Instead, Rich places herself in a genealogy of struggle, as the inheritor of the disappointments accumulated over generations of women that “are stored / in the genetic code.” Every woman before her who has faced the patriarchy and been made to swallow the pain of a life unlived is her predecessor; all her contemporaries who suffer are her community, sharing in “a mystic biology.” This communalism is the source of her strength. “Everything that has ever / helped me has come through what already / lay stored in me,” she writes. “Old things, diffuse, unnamed, lie strong / across my heart. // This is from where / my strength comes.” This is a distinctly Jewish understanding of intergenerational community— Rich engages in a sort of dialogue with her predecessors, bearing the load of their troubles and gaining the strength of their learnings. In this, the relationship between Rich and her chosen ancestors is not too dissimilar from the essence of commentary favored by Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, described by Hartman as: “One person may raise a question, and the other who is far away in time or space may comment on it or ask a question that answers it.” The question, in this case, is of the particularities of oppression, and the answer is the way 74
The Solitudes of Adrienne Rich to live through it. Rich’s strength is in the accretion of generations of knowledge. This conception of Jewish strength is distinctly opposed to the hypermasculine, individualistic, militarized promises of Zionism. Rich displays no aspirations toward assuming the role of the New Jew. Rather, her diasporism is the root of her power, allowing her to form kinships across temporal and racial bounds and access the collective knowledge of the other “despised and endangered” who “have kept beyond violence the knowledge / arranged in patterns like kente-cloth // unexpected as in batik / recurrent as bitter herbs and unleavened bread // of being a connective link / in a long continuous way // of ordering hunger, weather, death, desire / and the nearness of chaos.” Rich subscribes to a politics of linked fates, seeking openings for understandings of shared experiences and shared struggle. Her liberatory vision extends farther and wider than the inward revanchism of Zionism does—perpetual distance from the center of any community or power structure (“neither gentile nor Jew”) leaves her finding community in multitude, in crafting commonalities that cut across vast swaths of humanity. From here, too, does she derive strength. With this, the question that inaugurates her famous poem “Yom Kippur 1984” acquires new valences. “What is a Jew in solitude?” Rich asks. The rest of the first stanza follows: What would it mean not to feel lonely or afraid far from your own or those you have called your own? What is a woman in solitude: a queer woman or man? In the empty street, on the empty beach, in the desert what in this world can solitude mean? Rich goes on to offer several counterexamples detailing what solitude does not mean. Solitude is not a prison complex, it is not a vigilante in Utah or the Golan Heights, it is not the isolated poet in a tower “facing the western ocean, acres of forest planted to the east.” These three images each offer us respective visions of solitude as carceral, as zealous, and as haughty. That is, solitude can be inflicted, violent, or artistic, and Rich is interested in none of these forms. Rather, her understanding of solitude seems to be one of peace, 75
Daniel Yadin relating to the feeling of safety even in the absence of an inherited or chosen community. True solitude, it seems, would imply that one could separate from others and not long for the attributes of self that their presence delivered. For marginalized people, this separation from the multitude is a difficult, even impossible, state to obtain. Rich asks if “drifting from the center” and being “drawn to the edges” is “a privilege we can’t afford in the world that is, / who are hated as being of our kind,” and goes on to list groups of people whose life is endangered by the very fact of its existence: “faggot kicked into the icy river, woman dragged from her stalled car...young scholar shot at the university gates…, nothing availing his Blackness / Jew deluded that she’s escaped the tribe...Jew who has turned her back on midrash and mitzvah...found with a swastika carved in her back at the foot of the cliffs (did she die as queer or as Jew?)” The folly of the deluded Jew, she who thinks that ignoring midrash will erase the alien stamp: the scene hearkens back to Rich’s rootedness in the smoke of the crematoria. Multitude is a source of strength and safety—Rich’s self-crafted genealogy of sufferers, stretching from Jewish women of generations past to Indonesian weavers today, grants her power and faith. As an organizational tactic, too, Rich advocates for community formations larger than one: “Find someone like yourself. Find others. / Agree you will never desert each other. / Understand that any rift among you / means power to those who want to do you in. / Close to the center, safety; toward the edges, danger.” And her Jewishness is deeply connected to the Jewishness of Jews the world over; Rich sees herself indelibly attached to the fates and conditions of world Jewry. (It is worth adding, too, that Judaism is naturally a religion that demands multitudinous community. Jews cannot engage in public worship unless they have a minyan, a quorum of ten Jews who can pray together. Jewish practice is intensely focused on cultivating and sustaining a the Jewish community, and, as Geoffrey Hartman reminds us, “no individual, not even Moses, can perfect Israel’s mission. The covenant is with the community as a whole.”) And yet, though “to be with my people is my dearest wish,” Rich writes, “I also love strangers... / I crave separateness.” The concept of separateness—specifically, white American Jewish separateness—has 76
The Solitudes of Adrienne Rich acquired various implications from the preceding bulk of Rich’s work. Her father who craved separateness lived in “a castle of air,” Israel compels Jews to look toward the Middle East rather than the world at large, and Rich has contended with the imperative to surrender allegiance to her tribe in pursuit of assimilation. Separateness is threatening to the marginalized, something this lesbian Jew is not sure she can risk. Why, then, is separateness so important as to constitute a “nightmare”? In her imagined future, in the world Adrienne Rich would like to create, we could all be separate from one another and we could all exist as such in safety. The linkages between her and her community are not happy ones; she identifies with the lives unlived of the women before her, with the incinerated bodies of murdered Jews, with “the faith / of those despised and endangered // that they are not merely the sum / of damages done to them.” Important to stand in solidarity and communion, yes. Nourishing considering the conditions we’re dealing with. But when Rich imagines the ability to “wander far from your own or those you have called your own,” she is imagining a happier, easier existence: “to hear strangeness calling you from far away / and walk in that direction, long and far, not calculating risk / to go to meet the Stranger without fear or weapon, protection nowhere on your mind.” Yet, it is hard to imagine a future in which Jews stand apart from one another. After all, the people share a God. Conceptions of Jewish peoplehood run deeper than shared persecution; they extend into the very bones of the faith. Rich’s epigraph spells out one of the most grave punishments in Scripture, from Leviticus 23:29: “For whoever does not afflict his soul throughout this day, shall be cut off from his people.” She reminds us of the distinction of Jewish suffering from those of the other marginalized groups with which she makes communion, writing, “(the Jew on the icy, rutted road on Christmas Eve prays for another Jew / the woman in the ungainly twisting shadows of the street: Make those be a woman’s footsteps; as if she could believe in a woman’s god).” Jews have unity in faith, living under the protective penumbra of a god to whom they can pray for themselves and for others. The singularity of the Jew in this configuration is like the solitary 77
Daniel Yadin and contradictory position of Rich, split at the root, within Judaism— neither here nor there. The shared struggle between American Jews and other marginalized groups in the United States is complicated by the fact that Jews in this country are mostly white, exceptionally wealthy and educated, mostly supportive of the conduct and existence of the State of Israel, and composed, in significant part, by people who are more than happy to flatly lay their claim to the spoils of racial caste. White Jews face an oppression that is a component of white supremacy while benefiting actively and passively from white supremacy, a difficult space to occupy in a landscape so discursively dominated by race. But a Jew in solitude is an oxymoron. Adrienne Rich makes clear that to live a Jewish life is to live a life of multitude, that Jewishness is communion, and it is the role of the Jew who straddles social strata to decide with whom they will cast their lot. Muriel Rukeyser, Rich’s mentor, once wrote that to be a Jew in the twentieth century is to be offered the gift of torment, the wish for every human to be free. “If you refuse,” she wrote, “wishing to be invisible, you choose / death of the spirit, the stone insanity.” Those who accept “take full life. Full agonies: / Your evening deep in labyrinthine blood / Of those who resist, fail and resist; and God / Reduced to a hostage among hostages.” A Jew in solitude is a Jew who chooses death of the spirit. This becomes clearer than ever at the conclusion of “Yom Kippur 1984,” when Rich revisits her opening question. What is a Jew in solitude? What is a woman in solitude, a queer woman or man? When the winter flood-tides wrench the tower from the rock, crumble the prophet’s headland, and the farms slide into the sea when the leviathan is endangered and Jonah becomes revenger when center and edges are crushed together, the extremities crushed together on which the world was founded when our souls crash together, Arab and Jew, howling our loneliness within the tribes 78
The Solitudes of Adrienne Rich when the refugee child and the exile’s child re-open the blasted and forbidden city when we who refuse to be women and men as women and men are chartered, tell our stories of solitude spent in multitude in that world as it may be, newborn and haunted, what will solitude mean? When the chaos of transition and the pain of world-building take hold, upon the collapse of dominant ecological and economic and political systems, the space for solitude will grow ever smaller and ever greater. Between the crushing-together of the center and edges will be people newly-adjacent, forming new political communities, new modes of kinship, shrinking our capacity to stand apart from others until Rich’s imagined future is realized, when the newborn and haunted world reshapes what it means to be alone. Maybe solitude then will be as simple as maintaining a discrete subject self. Maybe solitude, then, will mean dissent from the order of connectedness. Maybe solitude will be a constituent part of collectivity, a way of keeping space for oneself within the indelible mutuality of the social order, which is to say, maybe it will look quite Jewish. Works Cited Rich, Adrienne. “Sources,” “Yom Kippur 1984.” Collected Poems: 1950-2012, W.W. Norton, 2016, pp. 571–594, 633-637.
Discourse by Agi Mishol translated by Daniella Cohen I say to the hibiscus: my Lord is God my Lord is the and I repeat this over and over with devotion and I canâ€™t stop He is the I sing this proudly from my chest expectorate at the flowers burning like a bush formless joy bursting from the top of my body, God is my Lord now I back up and dive into the crimson of the hibiscus to shout and to suckle the honey that came before me, and now from the roof of the warehouse he looks at me and I at him as I speak and thoughts bounce from my brain, become a blue kingfisher, the God I explain as I dance, God is the only thing, my dear.
ע”י אגי משעול יסקּוס: יבּ ְ אֹומ ֶרת ַל ִה ִ ֶ ֲאנִ י ֲאדֹנָ י הּו ָה ֱאל ִֹהים ֲאדֹנָ י הּו ָה יֹותר יֹותר ְו ֵ אֹומ ֶרת ֶאת זֶ ה ֵ ֶ ַו ֲאנִ י ִבּ ְד ֵבקּות ְו ָאסּור ִלי ְל ַה ְפ ִסיק הּו ָה ֲאנִ י ְכּ ָבר ָשׁ ָרה ֶאת זֶ ה ָחזָ ק ְמ ַה ַס ְר ֶע ֶפת יֹור ֶקת ֶ בֹּוע ִרים ַכּ ְסנֶ ה ַל ְּפ ָר ִחים ַה ֲ גּופיֱ ,אל ִֹהים רּורה ִמ ְת ָּפ ֶרצֶ ת ִמצְ פֹון ִ ְו ִשׂ ְמ ָחה ל ֹא ְבּ ָ הּו ָה ֲאדֹנָ י יכה ָעמֹק ּומ ְמ ִשׁ ָ הֹופ ֶכת ֶאת ַה ֵס ֶדר ַ ַע ְכ ָשׁו ֲאנִ י ֶ ְל ְ יסקּוס יבּ ְ תֹוך ָה ַא ְרגָ ָמן ֶשׁל ַה ִה ִ ִלצְ עֹק ֶאת זֶ ה גַ ם ְליֹונֵ ק ַה ְד ַבשׁ ֶשׁ ָהיָ ה ָשׁם ְל ָפנַ י ְו ַע ְכ ָשׁו ִמגַ ג ַמ ְח ָסן ִמ ְתבֹּונֵ ן ִבּי ַו ֲאנִ י בֹּו הּו ּומ ֲח ָשׁבֹות ֲאנִ י ַמ ְס ִבּ ָירה לֹו ַ טּור ִקיזָ ,ה ֱאל ִֹהים הֹופכֹות ְל ַשׁ ְל ַדג ְ ְמנַ ְתרֹות ִממ ִֹחי ְו ְ רֹוק ֶדת ֱאל ִֹהים הּו ָה ֲאנִ י ַמ ְס ִבּ ָירה לֹו ֶ יבי ָד ָבר ַע ְכ ָשׁוֲ ,ח ִב ִ
ּבאָ נציע שווײַ ג א בליק
A Fragment by I.L. Peretz translated by Todd Warshawsky
las! Bantzia Shvayg’s death made no impression whatsoever on the world. Don’t bother asking who Bantzia was, how he lived, and how he died. If his heart burst, if his strength left him, if his back broke under a heavy burden … Who knows? Perhaps he even died of hunger. Should a horse succumb to a street car, people would be more interested. Newspapers would write about it, hundreds of people would run through the streets to go see the carcass, they’d consider precisely how its downfall took place… Bantzia lived quietly and died quietly. Like a shadow, he moved through … through our world. At Bantzia’s bris, no one drank any wine or raised any glasses. At his bar-mitzvah, no noteworthy words of Torah were given … He lived like a grey, little speck of sand at the edge of the sea. Among millions of others just like him. And when the wind picked him up and Yiddish text can be found at: www.yiddishbookcenter.org/collections/yiddish-books/spb-nybc212809/peretz-isaac-leib-bontsye-shvayg-redaktirt-far-der-yugnt-vol-1 *
blew him over to the other side of the sea, no one even noticed it. No trace of his footprint remained in the wet mud. Even in death – the wind blew away the humble plank covering his grave. The gravedigger’s wife found it far from his grave and there used it to cook a pot of potatoes … Three days since Bantzia’s death, there’s no point in asking the grave digger where he laid him down. Should Bantzia have a tombstone, in over a hundred years, an archeologist might find it and the name of “Bantzia Shvayg” will once again fill our air. A shadow! His image remains in no one’s mind, in no one’s heart. No memory remains of him. Keyn kind, keyn rind – alone in the world. Alone he lived, alone he died. When people weren’t making a commotion, perhaps someone would hear how Bantzia’s spine sometimes cracked under the burden. If there was more time in the world, someone might have noticed that, when living, Bantzia (a human being!), had two dull eyes sunken into his cheeks; that even when he didn’t bear a burden on his shoulders, he bent his head down low, as if even when living, he was looking for his grave! If there were as few people as horses lying in the road, perhaps someone would ask sometime: where did Bantzia disappear to?! When Bantzia was brought to the hospital, his corner of the cellar wasn’t empty – ten of his kind remained and between them, auctioned off his corner “in advance.” When he was brought from his hospital bed to the morgue, twenty poor sick people remained … When he was brought from the morgue, twenty corpses from under a fallen house were brought. Who knows how long he’ll lie as a corpse in the grave? Who knows how many will wait for his little piece of land… Quietly born, quietly lived, quietly died, and still more quietly buried.
othing like that came to pass in the world-to-come. There, Bantzia’s death made quite an impression!
The great shofar of the Messiah was heard throughout the Seven Heavens: Bantzia Shvayg has passed away! The greatest angels with the broadest wings flew and said to one another: “Bantzia was summoned to the heavenly Yeshiva!” There was a great rejoicing in heaven. “Bantzia Shvayg! It can’t be, Bantzia Shvayg!” 83
אן אינטערוויו מיט * בערטהא קאליש
An Interview with Bertha Kalish by Aaron Rosen translated by Eden Mendelsohn
פון אהרן ראָ זען
s the Yiddish theater growing since your absence, or no?” – This was the first question of the line of questions that the writer asked the great famous actor Madam Bertha Kalish who now stars at the Yiddish Theater in the Irving Place Theatre in “One of the People” This was on a Tuesday afternoon a few weeks ago, when I visited the great artist in her apartment in Central Park West. Raining outside, the whole town was wrapped in a dense dark cloud, and I already regretted the appointment that I made… but Madame Kalish’s entrance in the auditorium is like a bright sun-beam, and I forgot what is outside; the room became enjoyable and interesting even before the young lady Kalish began her very interesting analysis of the current situation in Yiddish theater. Yiddish text can be found at: jpress.org.il/Olive/APA/NLI/SharedView.Article.aspx?href=YTB%2F 1921%2F11%2F18&id=Ar00404&sk=FB7DB800 *
“I knew that you would ask that question,” She answered with a smile, and I acknowledged that is very hard to speak, since not everyone understands me. “The Yiddish Theater is growing greatly, however it is only growing from outside. We are having greater and more comfortable Yiddish Theaters, the set, the performances are more contemporary these days, but the theater itself is from 24 years back. The stage stands now precisely on that rank that it stood when I left the stage for the first time… and perhaps even worse.” “It is a psychological failure. For some reason the audience is estranged from the Yiddish Theater. I have starred in Yaakov Gordon’s brilliant dramas a few times, and I noted how people here laugh when they needed to cry; cry when they needed to laugh, gasp when they needed to simply smile. I felt that the Yiddish audience became estranged from the better things in the Yiddish Theater.” “What has the foreign theater taught you?” – I asked – “Even though I know that no one should be able to give an answer on one foot one?” “You are correct. To answer this question alone, I knew dozens of studies to give. All that I want to say about the question, from them technical point of view, is that I learned from the English theater what not to do, and this was worth all money. I have consistently loved when an actor does less rather than more…and many of our actors suffer poorly from this. There is no limit here. “When I left for the English theater I was a quite good “emotional actress,” but coming on that stage I saw that they needed something else. “Well, and how do you feel about returning to the Yiddish theater? After you have experienced great success with the non-Jews?” “How should I feel, I feel like a child that left from the small village from father-mother’s poor tiny house, was over seas and distant lands, in palaces, among gold and diamonds and went back home. There is no thing that should be as loved as the home, no theater warms me as much as the Yiddish Theater. I feel so happy, disregarding the pain I feel when I get a glimpse what the Yiddish Theater became. “Will you stay with us?” – “That depends on two matters. Firstly, if my health will allow me. Second, if I will have suitable plays in which perform. Yeah, and another thing, if the audience will want to have me. 85
A Fragment from the Zohar* translated by Dov Greenwood
e opened saying, “like a lily amidst the brambles—so is my love amidst the maidens” (Song of Songs 2:2). The Blessed Holy One desired that the Children of Israel resemble that which lies above, and to be the single lily of the land resembling that ideal one. And the lily with the wafting scent, the choicest among the flowers, is none other than the one that is found among the brambles—and its scent is rightly so. And so the seed of the seventy pairs—that is, the “seventy souls”— were brought into the midst of the brambles, and those brambles, immediately once the pairs arrived, sprouted shoots and leaves and ruled over the world. And then the lily bloomed in their midst. When the Blessed Holy One desired to extract the lily and pluck it from their midst, the brambles thus dried up, and they were tossed about and trampled upon as though they were worthless. In going out to pluck that lily—to extricate his firstborn son—at that time the king went out with many soldiers, officers and princes, with flags unfurled, and extricated his firstborn son with many great feats, and brought him to his sanctuary and sat him, as fit, in the house of the king. When he sinned against his father, he scolded him and struck him, as it is written, “God’s rage flared against Israel, so he delivered them into the hand of vandals” (Judges 2:14). He strayed as he had before and defied his father, so he expelled him from his house. What did Israel do? They discerned that they had been scattered to Babylon, had been mixed among the nations, had married foreign women and borne children by them. Yet nevertheless, the Holy Mother had been guardian over them. (Continued on page 88)
From the commentary to the Torah Portion of Ki Tisa, which can be found on folio 189b according to the standard pagination. *
חֹוחים ֵּכן ַר ְעיָ ִתי ֵּבין ַה ָּבנֹות (שיר השירים ב׳:ב׳). ׁשֹוׁשּנָ ה ֵּבין ַה ִ ַתח ְו ָא ַמרְּ ,כ ַ ְ ׁשֹוׁשּנָ ה ַ ּול ֶמ ֱה ֵוי יּלא ְ קּוד ָׁשא ְּב ִריך הּוא ְל ֶמ ְע ַּבד לֹון ְליִ ְׂש ָר ֵאל ְּכגַ ְוונָ א ִּד ְל ֵע ָ ָּב ָעא ְ יחאְ ,ו ִא ְת ְּב ִריר ִמ ָּכל ְׁש ַאר ְו ָור ִדין ׁשֹוׁשּנָ ה ְּד ַס ְּל ָקא ֵר ָ ֲח ָדא ְּב ַא ְר ָעאְּ ,כגַ ְוונָ א ִע ָּל ָאהְ .ו ַ חֹוחיםְ .ו ָדא ָא ְר ָחא ְּכ ְד ָקא יֵ אֹותְ .ו ַעל ְּד ָע ְל ָמאָ ,לא ֲה ֵוי ֶא ָּלא ַה ִהיא ְּד ַס ְּל ָקא ֵּבין ַה ִ חֹוחים, ִ חֹוחיםְ ,ו ִאיּנּון ָּדא זָ ַרע ִׁש ְב ִעין זּוגִ יןַּ ,ד ֲהוֹו ִׁש ְב ִעין נֶ ֶפׁשְ ,ו ָא ִעיל לֹון ֵּבין ַה ִ ּוכ ֵדין ַּפ ְר ַחת ּוׁש ִליטּו ַעל ָע ְל ָמאְ , ִמּיַ ד ַּד ֲהוֹו ִאיּנּון זּוגִ ין ַּת ָּמןְ ,ס ִליקּו ַענְ ִפין ְו ַט ְר ִּפין ְ ׁשֹוׁשנָ ה ֵּבינַ יְ יהּו. ַ קּוד ָׁשא ְּב ִר ְ ׁשֹוׁשנָ ה ְו ָל ִקיט ָלּה ִמ ֵּבינַ יְ יהּוְּ ,כ ֵדין ַ יך הּוא ְל ַא ָּפ ָקא ֵּכ ָיון ְּד ָב ָעא ְ חֹוחיםְ ,ו ִאזְ ְד ִריקּוְ ,ו ִא ְׁש ֵּתצִ יאּוְ ,ו ָלא ִא ְת ַח ְׁשבּו ִל ְכלּוםְּ .ב ַׁש ֲע ָתא ְּד ָאזִ יל ְל ִמ ְל ַקט יָ ְבׁשּו ִ ילין ּבּוכ ֵריּהְּ ,ב ַההּוא זִ ְמנָ א ָאזַ ל ַמ ְל ָּכא ּגֹו ַּכ ָמה ַחּיָ ִ ְ ׁשֹוׁשנָ ה ָּדאְ ,ל ַא ָּפ ָקא ְּב ֵריּה ַ יתי בּוריןְ ,ו ַאיְ ֵ ּבּוכ ֵריּה ְּב ַכ ָּמה ּגְ ִ יׂשןְ ,ו ַא ִּפיק ִל ְב ֵריּה ְ יטיןִ ,עם ְּדגָ ִלין ְּפ ִר ָ ַר ְב ְר ָבנִ ין ְו ַׁש ִּל ִ יכ ֵליּהְ ,ויָ ִתיב ַסּגִ י ְּב ֵבי ַמ ְל ָּכא. ֵליּה ְל ֵה ָ אֹוכח ֵליּהְ ,ו ַא ְל ֵקי ֵליּהִּ ,ד ְכ ִּתיבַ ,וּיִ ַחר ַאף יְ יָ ’ ְּביִ ְׂש ָר ֵאל בּוהַ , ֵּכ ָיון ְּד ַחב ְלגַ ֵּבי ֲא ָ בּוהַ ,א ְפ ֵקיּה ּומ ַרד ְּב ָא ָ ׁשֹוסים ְוגֹו’ (שופטים ב׳:י״ד)ָ ,ס ַרח ְּכ ִמ ְּל ַק ְּד ִמיןָ , ִ ַוּיִ ְּתנֵ ם ְּביַ ד יתיּהַ .מה ַע ְבדּו יִ ְׂש ָר ֵאלָ ,חמּו ְּד ָהא ִא ְת ַּב ְדרּו ְל ָב ֶבלִ ,א ְת ָע ְרבּו ְּב ַע ְמ ַמיָ א ,נָ ִסיבּו ִמ ֵּב ֵ רֹוּפֹוסא ָ יׁשא ֲה ַות ַאּפֹ ְט ימא ַק ִּד ָ אֹולידּו ְּבנִ ין ִמּנְ הֹוןִ .עם ָּכל ָּדאִ ,א ָ נָ ִׁשין נָ ְכ ִרּיֹותְ ,ו ִ ָע ַליְ יהּו. )המשך בעמוד (89
(Continued from page 86)
And because he had trespassed so, the Blessed Holy One said, “since he is ashamed, let my son come to me of his own accord, because, as he has disgraced my dignity, it is undue for me to go out there to retrieve him, nor to do miracles and great feats as I did back then.” They returned without the help due to them, without wonders or miracles: all of them were scattered, all of them were exhausted by poverty, and they returned to the sanctuary of the king shamefully— but the Holy Mother vouched for them. They sinned as they had back then. What did the Blessed Holy One do? He expelled that son, as he had back then, from his sanctuary— and his mother with him—saying, “henceforth the mother and her son will suffer many travails together!” Thus it is written, “and by your crimes your mother was banished” (Isaiah 50:1), and regarding this it is written, “you will be in distress, as all these things lay hold of you with the end of days” (Deuteronomy 4:30). But what is “the end of days”? This is the Holy Mother—she is the “End of Days”—and with her they suffered all that they suffered in Exile. And if only they return through repentance, then by undergoing even just one travail or one trial, it will be accounted as though they had suffered them all. And if not, they must endure them till the end, throughout the generations—as the Holy Candle said, “it is thus written: ‘in perpetuity it will belong to the one who acquires it, throughout the generations’ (Leviticus 25:30). For the whole thing is tied to repentance.” Rabbi Hiyya said, “It is, of course, so—and thus the Exile continues.”
)המשך מעמוד (87
קּוד ָׁשא ְּב ִר ְ יתי ְּב ִרי ּסּופא ִאיהּוֵ ,ל ֵ הֹואיל ְו ִכ ָ ִ יך הּוא ָא ַמר, ְו ַעל ְּד ָע ַבד ָה ִכיְ , הֹואיל ְו ִח ֵּלל יְ ָק ִריָ ,לא ִא ְת ָחזֵ י ְּד ָאנָ א ֵאיזִ יל ַּת ָּמן ְל ַא ָּפ ָקא ֵליּה, ִ ִאיהּו ִמּגַ ְר ֵמיּה, ּיּועא ְּד ִא ְת ָחזּו לֹוןְּ ,ב ָלא בּורן ְּכ ִמ ְּל ַק ְּד ִמיןָּ .תבּו ִאיּנּוןְּ ,ב ָלא ִס ָ ּול ֶמ ְע ַּבד ֵליּה נִ ִּסין ּוגְ ָ ְ יכ ָלא ְּד ַמ ְל ָּכא יאן ְונִ ִּסיןֶ ,א ָּלא ֻּכ ְּלהּו ִמ ְת ַּב ְּד ָרןֻּ ,כ ְּלהּו ְל ָאן ְּב ִמ ְס ְּכנּוְ ,ו ָתבּו ְל ֵה ָ ְּפ ִל ָ יׁשא ַע ְר ַבת לֹון. ימא ַק ִּד ָ ּסּופאְ ,ו ֵא ָ ְּב ִכ ָ קּוד ָׁשא ְּב ִר ְ יך הּואַ .א ִּפיק ְל ַהאי ְּב ָרא ְּכ ִמ ְּל ַק ְּד ִמין ָחאבּו ְּכ ִמ ְּל ַק ְּד ִמיןָ .מה ֲע ַבד ְ יׁשין ּוב ָרּה יִ ְס ְּבלּון ַּכ ָמה ִּב ִ ימא ְ ּול ָה ְל ָאהִ ,א ָ יּמיּה ַּב ֲה ֵדיּהָ .א ַמרִ ,מ ָּכאן ְ יכ ֵליּהְ ,ו ִא ֵ ְמ ֵה ָ יכם ֻׁש ְּל ָחה ִא ְּמ ֶכם (ישעיה נ׳:א׳)ְ .ו ַעל ָּדא ְּכ ִתיב, ּוב ִפ ְׁש ֵע ֶ ַּכ ֲח ָדאֲ ,ה ָדא הּוא ִד ְכ ִתיבְ , ּומצָ ָ אּוך ֹּכל ַה ְּד ָב ִרים ָה ֵא ֶּלה ְּב ַא ֲח ִרית ַהּיָ ִמים (דברים ד׳:ל׳). ַּבּצַ ר ְל ָך ְ יׁשאְּ ,ד ִהיא ַא ֲח ִרית ַהּיָ ִמים, ימא ַק ִּד ָ ַמאי ְּב ַא ֲח ִרית ַהּיָ ִמיםֶ .א ָּלא ָּדא ִהיא ִא ָ ּיּוב ָתאֲ ,א ִפיּלּו ַחד ִּביׁש ,אֹו לּותאְ .ו ִאיּלּו יְ ַה ְדרּון ְּב ִת ְ ְו ִע ָּמּה ַס ְבלּו ָּכל ָמה ְּד ַס ְבלּו ְּבגָ ָ יע ַבר ָע ַליְ יהּוִ ,א ְת ֲח ֵׁשב ָע ַליְ יהּוְּ ,כ ִאּלּו ַס ְבלּו ֹּכ ָּלאְ ,ו ִאי ָלאַּ ,כד יִ ְס ַּתיֵ ים ַחד צַ ֲע ָראִּ ,ד ָ יׁשאִּ ,ד ְכ ִּתיבִ ,לּצְ ִמיתּות ַלּקֹונֶ ה יליּהְּ .כ ָמה ְּד ָא ַמר ּבּוצִ ינָ א ַק ִּד ָ ִקיצָ אְ ,ו ָכל ָּד ִרין ִּד ֵ יּל ָתאָ .א ַמר ִר ִּבי ִחּיָ יא, ּיּוב ָתא ַּת ְליָ א ִמ ְ דֹורֹותיו (ויקרא כ״ה:ל׳)ְ .ו ָכל ָּדאְּ ,ב ִת ְ ָ אֹותֹו ְל לּותא ִא ְת ְמ ָׁש ְך. ַו ַּדאי ָה ִכי הּואְ .ו ַעל ָּדא ּגָ ָ 89