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American Hebrew Literature
Writing Jewish National Identity in the United States

Michael Weingrad

With a Foreword by Alan Mintz

Cloth $34.95s    |    978-0-8156-3251-1    |    2010

"In this wondrous volume, Michael Weingrad unfolds a lost world of American Hebrew literature. He introduces its leading figures, lays bare its central preoccupations, and translates or summarizes some of its most admired writings. Replete with exciting discoveries and tantalizing suggestions, American Hebrew Literature breathes new life into long-forgotten works and serves as a groundbreaking introduction to a literature that few until now have properly appreciated."
—Jonathan D. Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University

"Michael Weingrad’s fascinating history of the flourishing of Hebrew literature in America from 1915–1925 is most timely and needed. With great learning and lucidity and passion, Weingrad brings to life this ‘counterhistory’ of émigré authors who refused the typical path of Jewish assimilation to the United States."
—Ross Posnock, Columbia University

Over the last one hundred years, the story of Jews in the United States has been, by and large, one of successful and enthusiastic Americanization. Hundreds of thousands of Jews began the twentieth century as new arrivals in a foreign land yet soon became shapers and definers of American culture itself. One of the clearest expressions of this transformation has been the quick linguistic march of immigrant Jews and their children from Yiddish to English.

In this book, Weingrad presents a counter-history of American Jewish culture, one that tells the story of literature written by a group whose core identity was neither American nor Jewish American. These writers were ardently and nationalistically Jewish and, despite adopting a new country, their linguistic and cultural allegiance was to the Hebrew language. Producing poetry, short fiction, novels, essays, and journals, writers such as Shimon Halkin, Hillel Bavli, and Gabriel Preil sought to express a Jewish cultural nationalism through literature.

Weingrad explores Hebrew literature in the United States from the emergence of a group of writers connected with the Hebraist movement in the early twentieth century to the present. Radically expanding and challenging our conceptions of American and Jewish identities in literature, the author offers wide-ranging cultural analyses and thoughtful readings of key works. American Hebrew Literature restores a lost piece of the canvas of Hebrew literature and Jewish culture in the twentieth century and invites readers to reimagine Jewish-American writers of our own time.

View other books in the series Judaic Traditions in Literature, Music, and Art

Michael Weingrad is professor of Judaic studies at Portland State University. He has published articles in Prooftexts, Jewish Social Studies, AJS Review, Commentary, the Jewish Review of Books, and other publications.

6 x 9, 280 pages, notes, bibliography, index

American Hebrew Literature

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