Special Issue

There’s a Jewish Way of Saying Things

Essays in Honor of David Roskies

Edited by Avraham Rosen and Jillian Davidson, this collection of essays in honor of David Roskies considers the resonances between Jewish speech and Jewish texts. Drawing upon sources stretching across the time and space of Jewish writing and speech, these essays consider how uttered sound makes itself heard within written Jewish texts.

Contents

Editor's Introduction
I. Speaking Jewish Traditionally
II. Speaking in Jewish Tongues
III. Speaking Jewish and the Holocaust
IV. Speaking Anglo Jewish

Editor's Introduction

Article

Introduction: There’s a Jewish Way of Saying Things

Avraham (Alan) Rosen

Rosen introduces There’s a Jewish Way of Saying Things: Essays In Honor of David Roskies by reflecting on how Jewish speech—the spoken word, the vibrating resonance of uttered sound—finds its way back into text.

I. Speaking Jewish Traditionally

Torah and Talmud—the bedrock texts of Jewish tradition—model Jewish ways of speaking, while speaking with their own inimitable voice.

Article

Translating As Saying

Lawrence Rosenwald

Can Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig’s translation of the Hebrew Bible be considered a form of Jewish speech? When and how does translation become a Jewish way of talking?

Article

The Choir and the Orchestra: Two Kinds of Divine Praise

George Savran

When read together, Psalms 148 and 150 instruct the reader to constantly shift between the universal and the particular, between praying for the welfare of the world and focusing on the people of Israel.

Article

Talmud Talk and Jewish Talk

David Kraemer

What are the parallels between “Jewish conversation” and Talmudic discourse? Is there something inherently Talmudic about Jewish speech?

Article

Critical Discourse as a Jewish Thing and Its Beginnings in the Bible

Edward Greenstein

The Biblical record provides a set of powerful models for critical discourse, creating narratives, laws, and prophetic modes that emphasize the practice of verbal critique.

II. Speaking in Jewish Tongues

Modern Yiddish literature often begins from the attempt to capture Jewish speech, confronting depths of emotional expression, the bonds of interfamilial communication, and the constraints and possibilities of tradition and innovation.

Article

Der Alter Tevye Lebt!: Speech and Communication

Ruth R. Wisse

Sholem Aleichem and Tevye depend on one another—for Wisse, their conversations form a miniature Jewish territory where together they reassert moral control.

Article

Viva Voce: Vicissitudes of the Spoken Word in Hebrew Literature

Alan Mintz

Why does the Hebrew novel have a problem with speech? Alan Mintz on the non-dialogical and the monological in modern Hebrew literature.

Article

Sholem Aleichem’s Stempenyu: Speaking through Song

Avraham Novershtern

Translation by Avi Steinhart

How does one write about romance in Yiddish? Sholem Aleichem’s 1888 novel Stempenyu poses this question through an examination of the gendered limitations on Jewish literary love.

Article

Raysn: The Belarusian Frontier of Yiddish Modernism

Mikhail Krutikov

On the eve of World War I, poets Leyb Naydus, Moyshe Kulbak, and Elkhonen Vogler developed a sensitivity to nature in an attempt to reclaim the imaginary Jewish territories of Lite and Raysn.

Article

Badkhones in Life and Cinema: A Reading of the Marshalik in the 1937 Dybbuk Film

Joel Rosenberg

The wedding bard of The Dybbuk is a paradoxical figure: a professional outsider who speaks into being the layered complexity of S. An-ski’s artistic project.

Article

Hertz Grosbard’s Jewspeak: The Lost Art of Word Concerts

Agnieszka Legutko

Hertz Grosbard’s “word concerts” were an embodiment of “Jewspeak,” performances that sought to give life to the Yiddish literary tradition.

Article

Nit dos dorf, nit di kretshme: Speaking About Jewish Taverns in the Works of Sholem Aleichem

Adi Mahalel

The tavern is a fixture of the shtetl universe—but it also exists on the margins, where, for Sholem Aleichem, you can also find the chaos of modernity.

III. Speaking Jewish and the Holocaust

How can one maintain “a Jewish way of saying things” in the face of disaster?

Article

Orphaned Words: Yiddish, English, and Child Speech in Postwar Cinema

Hannah Pollin-Galay

Is there a Jewish way of not saying things? In facing crises in language during the immediate post-Holocaust years, filmmakers in English and Yiddish made choices about how to balance repair and critique.

Article

The Fourth Child

Hillel Schwartz

The author reflects on his own experiences encountering David Roskies in the 1960s and collaborating with him in Holocaust remembrance at a very different time than our present context for the memory and commemoration of the Holocaust.

Article

Double or Nothing: Jewish Speech and Silence in Georges Perec’s *W ou le souvenir d’enfance”

Marc Caplan

This article considers the phantom traces of Yiddish in Georges Perec’s W ou le souvenir d’enfance (1975).

Article

Letters Without Addresses: Abraham Sutzkever’s Late Style

Saul Noam Zaritt

Abraham Sutzkever’s poetry is often read within the confines of “Holocaust literature”. This essays reads a selection of Sutzkever’s poetry against the Holocaust, against the apocalypse, and against the horizons of meaning that the label of “Holocaust literature” might impose.

Article

Split Identity: Jewish Scholarship in the Vilna Ghetto

David E. Fishman

In this essay, David Fishman draws a comparison between yidishe visnshaft, or Jewish studies scholarship, and Judenforschung, the Nazi field of antisemitic Jewish studies used to justify the persecution and extermination of Jews in scientific terms.

IV. Speaking Anglo Jewish

Speaking Jewish can create a zone of identity that mastery of English threatens to efface. Anglo-Jewish writers both reflect and challenge this state of affairs—including devising a new slanted and multidirectional way of speaking.

Article

Breaking Ground, Broken English: Abraham Cahan’s The Imported Bridegroom

Hana Wirth-Nesher

Cahan’s characters speak in broken languages, and in so doing find themselves unable to find stable ground in America.

Article

Cod Yiddish From Across the Pond: Howard Jacobson’s Finklerspeak

Jillian Davidson

Howard Jacobson tests the limits and contours of a Jewish way of speaking, presenting an Anglo-Jewish dialogue with post-imperial culture.

Article

Shylock’s Jewish Way of Speaking

Nahma Sandrow

What if Shylock spoke Yiddish? One experimental production of Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” did just that.


Contributors