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Moses Hadas, Democratizing the Classics

Moses Hadas, a linguist and scholar of the classics who democratized the study of ancient books at Columbia University by emphasizing the value of studying them as literature, even in English translation, was born on this date in 1900. Ordained as a rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary, Hadas was fluent in Yiddish, German, ancient Hebrew, […]

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The Uncivil Servant: A Grand Home for Essays

by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this article, six books published by Notting Hill: Beautiful and Impossible Things: Selected Essays of Oscar Wilde; Essays on the Self, by Virginia Woolf; Junkspace, by Rem Koolhaas; The William Hazlitt Essay Prize 2013 the Winners; A Eulogy for Nigger and Other Essays; Cyclogeography by Jon Day; Questions of Travel by William Morris.   SINCE […]

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The Uncivil Servant: Jerusalem’s Outsider Architects

by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Till We Have Built Jerusalem, by Adina Hoffman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016, 352 pages. A CITY’S ARCHITECTURE is often an excellent guide to its history, politics, and vision of itself. The Haussmanian Paris we know today still speaks of the need for clean, airy streets, as well as […]

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The Sister

Yiddish writer Esther Kreitman, sister to the world-famous I.B. Singer and Yiddish writer I.J. Singer, died in London at age 63 on this date in 1954. Kreitman was a highly intelligent child who, as a girl, was denied education and attention in her Orthodox family. According to Faith Jones at the Jewish Women’s Archive, Kreitman “nevertheless […]

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Charles Dickens and the Jews

Charles Dickens, one of the 19th century’s greatest novelists, died at the age of 58 on this date in 1870. Dickens had a complicated relationship with Jews in Great Britain. On the one hand, he created one of the most hateful Jewish characters in literary history, Oliver Twist‘s Fagin (“a very old shrivelled Jew whose […]

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The Uncivil Servant: Family Fiction

by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Family Lexicon, by Natalia Ginzburg, translated from the Italian by Jenny McPhee, NYRB Classics, 2017, 221 pages, and And Then, by Donald Breckenridge, David Godine, 2017, 101 pages. SEVERAL YEARS ago, my wife and I were in Venice, and in an effort to avoid the omnipresent crowds, we […]

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“A Lost Lag B’Omer,” by Sholem Aleichem

translated from the Yiddish by Curt Leviant 1. OUR REBBI, Nissel the Short (he was called that, you see, on account of his small stature), was led by the nose by his assistants, who did absolutely as they pleased. If the first assistant came along and declared that the children should be dismissed early, Nissel […]

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