Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL

February's People

By Gad Nahshon

(From the Half Jewish Book by Daniel Klein, Villard, New York 2000): In his autobiography, The Ragman's Son, the Jewish actor Kirk Douglas (n� Issur Danielovitch) confesses to a period when he hated being a Jew but couldn't quite get himself to deny it altogether:

[I]f someone asked, "Are you a Jew?" I would gulp and say, "I'm a half Jew." I would vary the "blame" - sometimes it was my father who was a Jew, sometimes my mother, but not both. Being half a Jew did not seem quite as bad as being a whole Jew. How sad.

But two generations later in the Danielovitch/Douglas family, the desire to be half-Jewish took a new turn. Cameron Douglas, half-Jewish actor Michael Douglas' eight-year-old son, had the following colloquy with his father:

Cameron (very seriously): "Pappy (grandpa Kirk) is Jewish, right Dad?"
Michael: "That's right, Cameron."
Cameron: "But what are you Daddy?"
Michael: "I guess people would say that I'm half-Jewish."
Cameron: "Oh, and what am I?"
Michael: "Well, you're a quarter-Jewish."
Cameron (after considering carefully): "Daddy, I wanna be half-Jewish like you."

Ruth Wisse the distinguished scholar, an expert on Jewish culture and the Yiddish world, published a new original brilliant research: The Modern Jewish Canon (The Free Press, NY 2000). It is a journey into the modern Yiddish and Hebrew culture, literature and language. The author, by selected masterworks inviting readers to join in the definition of the canon, which is the privilege and delight of every generation. From Sholen Aleichem's Tevye the Dairyman, the first Jewish stand-up comedian, through Kafka's defendant Joseph K. and Isaac Babel's Lyutov, the Red Army correspondent, to Saul Bellow's Artur Sammler on the upper West Side of New York, and Cynthia Ozick's Rosa Lublin, The Modern Jewish Canon is the first book to bring our favorite Jewish characters together into a single volume and to treat them as part of a cohesive whole.

Not only is this book an exploration of Jewish literature, it is a cultural history of modern Jewish experience. As the Bible contains the annals of ancient Israel, the modern Jewish canon tells the story of the Jews during the past century, when they confronted the most vicious manifestations of nationalism, yet reclaimed their own national homeland and the refugees of their modern exodus with hope, magnanimity, and courage. The Bible was written in a singly language - Hebrew. Modern Jewish literature was written in all the languages of Jewish dispersion. Since the language is a partner in the creation of literature, the modern Jewish story is richly complicated by its tapestry of tongues. The Modern Jewish Canon is, then, truly a journey through language and culture.

Ruth R. Wisse is the Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University. Born in Romania and raised in Montreal in a Yiddish-speaking home, she was the first professor to introduce courses in Yiddish Literature at McGill University, where she helped to found the Jewish Studies Department in the late 1960's. She has written four previous books and been the editor of four additional volumes on Jewish literature and culture, and edited a series of Yiddish classics in English translation. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Greater New York Women's Division of State of Israel Bonds honored Toby Schneier of Manhattan and Westhampton Beach at its Golda Meir Club inaugural luncheon at the Russian Tea Room in Manhattan.

Division Chairman Bat-Sheva R. Waitman said Mrs. Schneier is being cited "for her leadership in the Jewish community and her support of the Israel Bonds program to strengthen Israel's economy." She is the wife of Rabbi Marc Schneier, immediate past president of the New York Board of Rabbis and spiritual leader of The Hampton Synagogue.

The Golda Meir Club is the Women's Division's highest honor society, whose members make an annual purchase of $5,000 or more in State of Israel Bonds. Barbara Arfa, Bertha Strauss, and Roselyn Weitzner served as luncheon chairmen. Dr. Mona Ackerman, Phyllis Berman, and Andrea Stark were vice chairmen.

Actress Alice Golembo, the grandniece of Golda Meir, was the special guest at the event.

Gen. (Res.) Fredy Zach, a veteran of the Israel Defense Forces and former head of the Civil Administration in the West Bank, was the featured speaker.

America-Israel Cultural Foundation, whose chairman Emeritus is Isaac Stern and its wonderfully creative and lovely president is Vera Stern, decided to honor the Foundation's donors with a special musical tribute-gala benefit concert 2000 which will take place at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center. The guest stars will be: Roberta Peters and Emanuel AX. Also other performers include Inbal Segev.

The goal of this foundation (AICF) is to stimulate cultural life in Israel and encourage its musicians.

Amber M. Brookman, president and CEO of Brookwood Companies, was honored by Shaare Zedek Jerusalem Medical Center at a tribute dinner at the Rainbow Room in New York City. The dinner was held under the auspices of Shaare Zedek's Textiles Division.

In announcing the tribute, Menno Ratzker, president of the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Jerusalem Medical Center, said "Despite the rigorous demands of running Brookwood Companies and the constraints on her schedule, Amber Brookman has always managed to find time for endeavors close to her heart, especially Shaare Zedek. Accordingly, we consider it a special privilege to honor Ms. Brookman for her compassion, understanding and support."

Formally a top fashion model and industry spokesperson, today Brookman is head of a $90 million textile converter and finisher with 400 employees.

U.S. Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, syndicated columnist and former New York Times executive editor A.M. Rosenthal, and New York Daily News publisher Mortimer Zuckerman were among those featured at the Zionist Organization of America's Justice Louis D. Brandeis Award Dinner in New York City at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, 42nd Street at Grand Central. Dietary laws were strictly observed.

Senator Specter is one of the strongest pro-Israel voices in the U.S. Senate. He is also the author of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1986, which permits the prosecution, in America, of terrorists who kill Americans overseas. Senator Specter is a leader of Congressional efforts to persuade the Clinton administration to bring Palestinian Arab killers of Americans to trial in the United States. Senator Specter is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, and former chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. At the dinner, A.M. Rosenthal - whose column appears twice weekly in the New York Daily News and many other newspapers around the country - received the ZOA's Ben Hecht Award for Excellence in Journalism Concerning Israel and the Jewish People. Mortimer Zuckerman, the distinguished publisher of the New York Daily News, presented the award.

Senator Specter was introduced by Irwin Hochberg, the national campaign chair of Israel Bonds, chairman of the International Commission of the Anti-Defamation League and former chairman of the Jewish Federation of New York.

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