Six Million Ku Klux Klansmen

by Dusty Sklar Discussed in this essay: The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition, by Linda Gordon. Liveright, 2017, 288 pages.   THE KU KLUX KLAN, America’s best-known racist society, has had three major phases of life since its founding right after the Civil War in 1866. […]

Read More

Ilya Ehrenburg and the Black Book

Soviet journalist, novelist, and poet Ilya Ehrenburg (some sources spell it “Ehrenberg”), who with Vasily Grossman created The Black Book, the first book documenting the Holocaust (before the killing had ended), died on this date in 1967. Ehrenburg was a popular communist writer and war correspondent, and an active member of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC), organized […]

Read More

On Art as Resistance

IN ISRAEL AND THE U.S. by Liya Rechtman WHAT DOES IT MEAN to protest when no one is listening? Or when our act of protest is portrayed as running counter to the “will of the people”? As I sit in Jerusalem watching the age of Trump unfold, it can feel like the walls are closing in. Here […]

Read More

Destroying Hebrew Books

On this date in 1731, searches in all Jewish homes throughout the Papal States (a major swath of Italy) resulted in the confiscation of all Hebrew books. Similar searches were conducted in 1738, 1748, and 1753, the last by order of Pope Benedict XIV, “who had learned that books were being smuggled into the ghettos […]

Read More

The Brothel-Owner and the Milkman

SHOLEM ASCH’S GOD OF VENGEANCE COMES TO LIFE by Susan Reimer-Torn ON MARCH 26, 1923, shortly before curtain time, the cast and producers of Sholem Asch’s play, God of Vengeance (pictured above) were arrested by a vice squad and thrown into jail to await trial on obscenity charges. The arrest took place fifteen days after […]

Read More

January 5: The Attorney of Free Speech

Al Bendich, an attorney who in 1957 defended Lawrence Ferlinghetti against obscenity charges for publishing and distributing Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” and in 1962 defended Lenny Bruce in his first of four obscenity trials, died on this date in 2015 at age 85. Bendich was only two years out of law school when he wrote the […]

Read More

December 16: Heather Has Two Mommies

Lesléa Newman’s children’s book, Heather Has Two Mommies, was self-published on this date in 1989 in a press run of 4,000 copies. As the first children’s book to deal with a lesbian couple raising children, Heather has been on the American Library Association’s list of most-often banned books every year since it appeared. In 1990, […]

Read More

The Uncivil Servant: Manipulating the Immutable

CENSORSHIP IN THE JEWISH TRADITION by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Changing the Immutable, by Marc B. Shapiro. Litman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2015. ANY SYSTEM that claims to represent eternal verities is eventually forced, either tacitly or openly, to confront the fact that nothing, in fact, is eternal; that the circumstances that made […]

Read More