Posts in Jewish Studies
Review: "Soviet Jews in World War II: Fighting, Witnessing, Remembering"

Soviet Jews in World War II: Fighting, Witnessing, Remembering, edited by Harriet Murav and Gennady Estraikh, was reviewed in Slavic and East European Journal.

The perpetrator-bystander-victim model that has by and large dominated Holocaust scholarship is challenged by the appearance of Soviet Jews in World War II: Fighting, Witnessing, Remembering, a collection of essays that examines the role of Soviet Jews as heroes during what the Soviets called the Great Patriotic War. Although the essays in the book cover different types of texts, they are united by a similar set of concerns ... demonstrating that in addition to the breadth of essays present here on the subject of the Holocaust in the Soviet context, the entire Soviet epoch ... is a treasure-trove waiting to be discovered and explored.
— Naya Lekht, University of California Los Angeles, Slavic and East European Journal 60.4 (Winter 2016)
Times of Israel Reviews "Under the Shadow of the Rising Sun"

Under the Shadow of the Rising Sun: Japan and the Jews During the Holocaust Period by Meron Medzini has been reviewed in The Times of Israel.

Japan’s attitude to and policies toward Jews from 1933 to 1945 — the years that coincided with the rise and fall of Nazi Germany — is the subject of Meron Medzini’s fine and fascinating work of scholarship, Under the Shadow of the Rising Sun: Japan and the Jews During the Holocaust Period ... Medzini, a Hebrew University historian, is one of the few scholars who has exhaustively delved into this intriguing topic ... Medzini’s wide-ranging book fills the gap quite admirably. He deals with the influx of Jews into Japan from the mid-19th century, the image of Jews in Japanese society, the export of antisemitism to Japan, the treatment meted out to Jews in Japanese-occupied Manchuria, China and Southeast Asia and the policies Japan formulated with respect to Jewish refugees.
— Sheldon Kirshner, Times of Israel (4 March 2017)

To read the full review, visit The Times of Israel.

Book Review: Shadows of Survival: A Child's Memoir of the Warsaw Ghetto

Shadows of Survival: A Child’s Memoir of the Warsaw Ghetto was reviewed in The Times Literary Supplement.

A fine honest memoir...devastation is lodged in the accumulated detail, one of the reasons publications such as this are so important.
— Natasha Lehrer, Times Literary Supplement, February 23 2017

Read the full review at the Times Literary Supplement's website.

Book Review: Shadows of Survival: A Child’s Memoir of the Warsaw Ghetto

Shadows of Survival: A Child’s Memoir of the Warsaw Ghetto was reviewed in January's issue of The Jewish Chronicle.

Kristine Keese survived childhood in the Warsaw Ghetto but when she arrived in New York in 1946 at the age of 12, her new classmates did not believe what she had suffered. Seventy years later, with astounding detail and clarity, she tells her story in Shadows of Survival, a Child’s Memoir of the Warsaw Ghetto ... Some of her experiences are those of any child — being so engrossed in her library books that she allows the dinner to burn, for instance. Others are drastically
different — such as walking home from a bread-buying expedition and having the loaf, still in her mother’s hand, bitten by a starving child.
— The Jewish Chronicle, 13 Jan 2017
Meron Medzini, author of "Under the Shadow of the Rising Sun", interviewed in Forward
Getty Images

Getty Images

Dr. Meron Medzini, author of Under the Shadow of the Rising Sun: Japan and the Jews during the Holocaust Era, has been interviewed by Benjamin Ivry of Forward. To read the full interview and learn more about Medzini's volume, visit Forward.com

You have to bear in mind that most Japanese had never seen a Jew in their lives. There were maybe a thousand Jews in Japan in the 1930s, so most could not tell them from other foreigners. My motive in writing this book was to tell [readers] that the Holocaust was not only in Europe, but in North Africa to a limited extent, and also in Asia.
— Meron Medzini, Forward 10 Jan 2017
Meron Medzini receives Japan's Order of the Rising Sun Decoration

Meron Medzini, author of Under the Shadow of the Rising Sun: Japan and the Jews during the Holocaust Erahas received Japan's Order of the Rising Sun decoration. 

The Japanese government awards the decoration, which includes a medal and certificate of honor, every year to people who contributed to Japan’s international relationships and promoted its culture globally.

Learn more at JNS.org

Review: The Image of Jews in Contemporary China

The Image of Jews in Contemporary China, edited by James Ross and Song Lihong, has been reviewed in The Times of Israel. To read the full review, visit their website.

The Image of Jews in Contemporary China, an illuminating volume edited by James Ross and Song Lihong ... covers a great deal of ground in comprehensive fashion ... This surge of interest in all things Jewish among Chinese people is no minor development, and fortunately, it’s neatly encapsulated in The Image of Jews in Contemporary China.
— Sheldon Kirshner, the Times of Israel
New Open Access Book: "Exemplary Bodies: Constructing the Jew in Russian Culture, 1880s to 2008"

Now Available on ASP Open

Exemplary Bodies
Constructing the Jew in Russian Culture, 1880s to 2008

HENRIETTA MONDRY

Exemplary Bodies: Constructing the Jew in Russian Culture, 1880s to 2008 explores the construction of the Jew’s physical and ontological body in Russian culture as represented in literature, film, and non-literary texts from the 1880s to the present. With the rise of the dominance of biological and racialist discourse in the 1880s, the depiction of Jewish characters in Russian literary and cultural productions underwent a significant change, as these cultural practices recast the Jew not only as an archetypal “exotic” and religious or class Other (as in Romanticism and realist writing), but as a biological Other whose acts, deeds, and thoughts were determined by racial differences. This Jew allegedly had physical and psychological characteristics that were genetically determined and that could not be changed by education, acculturation, conversion to Christianity, or change of social status. This stereotype has become a stable archetype that continues to operate in contemporary Russian society and culture.

Review: A Coat of Many Colors: Dress Culture in the Young State of Israel

A Coat of Many Colors: Dress Culture in the Young State of Israel by Anat Helman was reviewed in Studies in Contemporary Jewry, vol. 29, A Club of Their Own: Jewish Humorists and the Contemporary World, ed. Eli Lederhendler and Gabriel Finder (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016).

...fascinating developments loom large in Anat Helman’s deeply researched and thoughtful account, which draws on a wealth of sources, from popular periodicals such as Haishah and Lagever to the minutes of kibbutz meetings and the anguished letters sent to the Ministry of Rationing and Supply ... Supported by this lively material, Helman’s work highlights one of the most important, yet barely studied, ways in which clothing ... furnished the new state with a bonanza of sartorial possibilities.
— Jenna Weissman Joselit (George Washington University)
New Open Access Book: "Crafting the 613 Commandments" by Albert D. Friedberg

Now available on ASP Open:

Crafting the 613 Commandments:
Maimonides on the Enumeration, Classification, and Formulation of the Scriptural Commandments

ALBERT D. FRIEDBERG

Rabbinic tradition has it that 613 commandments were given to Moses on Mount Sinai, but it does not specify those included in the enumeration. Maimonides methodically and artfully crafts a list of 613 commandments in a work that serves as a prolegemenon to the Mishneh Torah, his monumental code of law. This book explores the surprising way Maimonides put this tradition to use and his possible rationale for using such a tradition. It also explores many of the philosophical and ethical ideas animating the composition of such a list. In the book's second half, Friedberg examines the manner by which Maimonides formulated positive commandments in the Mishneh Torah, leading him to suggest new dimensions in Maimonides' legal theory.