A Pilgrimage to Philip Roth's Hometown

On 80th Birthday, Fans Tour Newark, Novels in Hand

nate lavey

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published March 20, 2013, issue of March 29, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

Other parts of Newark are similarly unrecognizable. Outside the Riviera Hotel, on Clinton Avenue, a passenger read a section of “The Plot Against America” in which the Roth character says that his parents spent their wedding night there. Down the block, Roth wrote, was a wealthy synagogue “built to serve the city’s Jewish rich.”

Today the Riviera Hotel is a budget extened stay hotel. Across the street is an auto parts shop and row houses missing their rows. A few minutes away is the last remaining block of Prince Street, once the heart of Jewish Newark, where you can now find a boarded up synagogue and a vast, empty, overgrown lot.

Del Tufo, however, was indomitable in her enthusiasm. “There’s a great new life on High Street,” she said as the buses rolled past a sealed-up High Street apartment building that had apparently been purchased by a private developer.

The Roth tour of Newark is conducted only on special occasions. Roth himself took it once during a reunion of his high school class. “He loved it,” Del Tufo said.

Del Tufo said her favorite Roth quote is from “Goodbye, Columbus.” She read it over the loudspeaker while the bus was pulled over in downtown Newark near Washington Park, a small triangle near the city’s lovely library. It’s Roth’s endorsement of Newark, but just barely.

“Sitting there in the park, I felt a deep knowledge of Newark, an attachment so rooted,” Del Tufo read, “that it could not help but branch out into affection.”

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com or on Twitter, @joshnathankazis

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.