Jul. 24th, 2012

liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
Author: Jonathan Freedland

Details: (c) Jonathan Freedland 2005; Pub Penguin Books 2006; ISBN 0-141-01491-1

Verdict: Jacob's gift is a readable, effective account of some aspects of Anglo-Jewish history.

Reasons for reading it: [personal profile] khalinche recommended it very highly. I wasn't quite sure if I'm quite the right audience for it; it's basically trying to explain people like me to nice middle class British people who generically approve of multiculturalism but don't necessarily know much about any specific minority cultures. But still, if [personal profile] khalinche thinks it's a good book, that's a pretty strong reason to read it.

How it came into my hands: I've been looking out for a copy in a cursory fashion since [personal profile] khalinche mentioned it. Then I was in my parents' house and a bit short of reading material, so I went poking in their recent acquisitions pile, and discovered they'd "done" this at their Jewish book club, so I borrowed it.

detailed review )

Today I had to attend a funeral of a cousin of Dad's whose wife died suddenly last week. His grandmother, for whom I'm named (in a complicated fashion), was a Yiddish-speaking immigrant from Eastern Europe, one of eleven children who reached England as a refugee family some time at the end of the last century. His father (my grandmother's older brother) was bilingual in Yiddish and English, trained and worked as a doctor, and socialized in mainly Jewish circles and in some ways always felt like a despised foreigner / outsider, though he too was involved in leftist internationalist politics. And after two generations: a funeral held in a big CofE church in the most postcard pretty English village, a eulogy that mentioned how the deceased was active in all kinds of community affairs, school governor, charitable works, every bit the country doctor's wife. While we Jewish relatives sort of huddled in a corner and made wry remarks about the quality of the catering and weren't quite sure of the etiquette for how to dress or behave for church or whether to use the traditional Jewish formulas for condolences. That's a story Freedland would almost certainly recognize, and if you want to understand some of it you could do worse than to read his book.

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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