The Schmooze

From Brooklyn Jew to Austrian Blueblood

Crossposted From Under the Fig Tree

The Sunday New York Times is generally full of fascinating stories about this and that. This week’s paper featured the unusually choice tale of one Alan Z. Feuer, who, by dint of will and subterfuge, managed to transform himself from a Brooklyn-born Jewish kid into a socialite and an “Austrian blueblood,” whose métier was the fancy dress ball.

Feuer was hardly the first, and probably not the last, Jewish male to envision himself as someone else. Take, for instance, Trebitsch Lincoln, a character so chameleon-like it’s hard to believe that he did not actually spring from the pages of a potboiler.

Born Ignacz Trebitsch in Hungary, he subsequently converted from Judaism to Christianity, becoming, in short order, a missionary in Canada, a British Member of Parliament, a German spy whose double-dealings were duly noted by the FBI and the abbot of a Buddhist monastery in China. The subject of a wonderful book by Bernard Wasserstein, “The Secret Lives of Trebitsch Lincoln,” this man was as dazzling, and shape-shifting, as they come.

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From Brooklyn Jew to Austrian Blueblood

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