Reportage from Blotetown: Yisroel-Yoysef Zevin (Tashrak) and the Shtetlization of New York City

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Abstract

The neglected-but-popular Yiddish humorist Tashrak (penname of Yisroel-Yoysef Zevin) offers not just an opportunity to discover understudied aspects of the Jewish urban experience and modern Yiddish culture, but also allows us to tap into a less refined level of beliefs, behavior, judgments and attitudes of Yiddish-speaking Jews in America. Tashrak wittily conveyed to his readers a comforting image of the New World: New York City was just an enlarged shtetl, whose Jewish residents clashed over a host of issues, while encountering a number of stereotypical non-Jews. In his representation of internal Jewish divisions and disputes, relations with non-Jews, and the trials of modernity and assimilation, Tashrak followed, to some extent, the literary paths of earlier Yiddish and Hebrew writers. Yet critics often frowned upon his politics as either conservative or apolitical, and considered his literary style as lowbrow, thus they disregarded his work altogether, or referred to it as worthless.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-74
Number of pages18
JournalEast European Jewish Affairs
Volume50
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 3 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • conservatism
  • German Americans
  • Irish Americans
  • New York City
  • Shtetl
  • Yiddish literature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations

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