Jews on the left in particular championed black political causes, and sought to Material relations between Jewish immigrants and blacks in the case included articles, photographs, cartoons, poems, and excerpts of the. Created by two white Jews and featuring a mostly African American cast, 'Black Panther' might lead to reconciliation between. Dramatic Encounters: The Jewish Presence in Twentieth-Century American Drama, Poetry, and Humor and the Black-Jewish Literary Relationship. By Louis .
Material relations between Jewish immigrants and blacks in the United States were dependent upon circumstance.
Jewish peddlers in the South routinely dealt almost exclusively with black customers, and thus were likely to share meals with them and spend the night in their homes.
European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race Cambridge: Harvard University Press, Even long-established, upwardly-mobile Jews began to experience a new level of exclusion, prejudice, and violence, leading many to question their previously comfortable place within the American racial hierarchy.
Jews, Race, and American Identity Princeton: Princeton University Press, American Jews and Blacks, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, .
As Jews moved north into Harlem and the Bronx, they became more likely than other white groups to live alongside blacks. There were a number of reasons for this: Since many Eastern European Jews had grown up within a culture that defined itself in opposition to the exclusionary and even violent attitudes of non-Jews, upon moving to the United States some Jews felt that they could not comfortably adopt the condescending manners and superior attitudes of their white compatriots towards blacks.
Johns Hopkins University Press,  A significant amount of Yiddish writing in the early s dwelt on the Scottsboro case, in which nine young black men faced the death penalty for allegedly raping two white women on a freight train in Alabama in University of Wisconsin Press, Many Jews saw the persecution of the Scottsboro defendants as stemming from the same source of racial hatred responsible for rising anti-Semitism and pro-fascist sympathies both at home and abroad.
Jews on the Communist left often sent their children to integrated summer camps such as Kinderland and Wochica, where Jewish children played with black bunkmates, learned modern dance with prominent black artists such as Pearl Primus, and visited with black singer and athlete Paul Robeson.
Although fighting racial injustice was at the forefront of their political imagination, few left-wing Jews found opportunities to share the intimacies of daily life with black comrades. Mickey Flacks is referring to her mother in the above quotation. Even when Jews and blacks worked in common cause, they rarely created or maintained real friendships; the social, political, and economic distances between the two groups were often seen as insurmountable.
One group of Jews who did come into frequent contact with blacks were Jewish teachers. Rutgers University Press,2. In black neighborhoods such as Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant, Jewish teachers encountered conditions of structural racism that they had never seen before, such as missing or broken blackboards, overcrowded classrooms, and racist textbooks.
One of these teachers, Alice Citron, was shocked by the black students she met on her first teaching assignment in Harlem in She felt they were beaten down and hopeless from hunger and lack of opportunity.
InCitron lost her job after refusing to state whether or not she had ever been a member of the Communist Party. As Cheryl Greenberg has pointed out, Jews continued to support black causes even when they had no direct or self-interested motivation to do so.
Oxford University Press, This is most evident in the civil rights movement, when Jews participated in the March on Washington in ; in the Freedom Rides that aided desegregation of interstate buses; and in the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in However, such support did not remain constant.
Columbia University Press, Jewish Currents was founded in as a reconstituted version of Jewish Life magazine, in which Du Bois had published his essay on the Warsaw Ghetto. The editorial committee re-formed in to independently publish Jewish Currents.
The cartoon displayed a hand tattooed with a dollar sign, surrounded by a Star of David, holding a noose around the necks of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and Mohammed Ali.
Jewish Currents printed the cartoon next to what they considered to be an even more egregious example of racism: A fearsome-looking figure wearing traditional Arab clothing stands next to the phonograph with a record in his hand. American Yiddish culture sustained an unsurprisingly empathetic yet also predictably selective perception of black Americans. Amelia Glaser and David Weintraub Wisconsin, American Jews and Blacks, Johns Hopkins, provides a helpful socio-historical background.
Threshold Moments in American Literature Syracuse, As the translations of texts by Markish and Opatoshu and the accompanying commentary by Marc Caplan and Jessica Kirzane illustrate, one extravagant iconographic locus for such identification was the lynched male black body—grotesquely, luridly defamiliarized in a corpus of poems that reached their crescendo during the Scottsboro trial Recovering the Poetry of the American Left Routledge, Not coincidentally cross-pollinating Bachman with Caplanit can also be the place where untutored racial consciousness, hindered by bars of cultural difference, archives racial stereotypes.
Why a 2,year-old Hebrew poem still matters
Af der shvel in shtotn iz gezesn an alter neyger [At the threshold in the shadows sat an old Negro]. Will the text remain thus ideologically, self—critically af der shvel? In the meantime, as another direction to signpost provisionally, certain pairings of Yiddish American-African American poems deserve their moment of critical polytonal?
To my knowledge, an encounter between the literature on lynching by African Americans and American Jews writing in Yiddish has not thus far been conducted, either in parallel or contrapuntally. At least for the moment, that interface will have to remain af der shvel.
Click here to download a PDF of this article. Despite his Galician origins, Roth came to Yiddish rather late in life. America's Rebel Yiddish Poets, ed.