An exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum seeks to show the relationship between Jews and modernism. It’s a visual delight, but Jenna Weissman Joselit remains unconvinced.
After the Great Fire nearly leveled the city, Jewish immigrants poured into Chicago. Modernist artists identified with, and took inspiration from, the spirit of re-creation.
Among the Nazis’ persecuted minorities were Jewish and non-Jewish artists, musicians and writers branded “degenerate” by the regime.
The Yiddish poet Yirmiye (Jeremiah) Hesheles died on October 16, 2010. When he celebrated his 100th birthday a group of dedicated Yiddishists, myself included, celebrated the occasion by paying him a visit at the New York State Veterans Home in St. Albans, Queens. A herd of geese, as if out of an Eastern European legend, greeted us in the parking lot. The building was big, its corridors cold. Veterans were rolling around in their wheelchairs or lying quietly in bed. We were looking for the last great Yiddish modernist alive. We found him asleep in one of the geriatric wards. The nurse did not let us see him. Showing her a picture of the young Hescheles did not help.
A version of this post appeared in Yiddish.