Leyb ben Oyzer’s “Description of Shabbetai Zevi” (Bashraybung fun Shabetai Tsvi) is a fascinating Yiddish text, apparently never wholly translated into English, but available in a sparkling new translation into French by Nathan Weinstock, published in November 2011 by Les éditions Honoré Champion. “Description of Shabbetai Zevi” first appeared in 1718 in Amsterdam, where its author held various responsibilities at the Ashkenazi synagogue.
In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Jonathan D. Sarna writes about “Great Jews Since Bible Times” by Elma Ehrlich Levinger.
Although Shabbetai Zevi naturally gets most of the attention, Jewish history has been marked by a series of impostors. On February 16, Bloomsbury USA publishes a collection by the late New Yorker reporter St. Clair McKelway, “Reporting at Wit’s End,” which includes the complete 1968 book “The Big Little Man from Brooklyn” about the Jewish impostor Stanley Jacob Weinberg.