Tag: non-fiction

Moonlight, Romance & Jewish Songwriters

“There may be trouble ahead,” begins Irving Berlin’s famed 1936 song, Let’s Face the Music and Dance, and if you are a fan of the classic American songbook and singers, you can easily hear Fred Astaire singing that line in your head. The song is remarkable, according to author David Lehman, because it puts all…

More Wit & Wisdom from Michael Wex

Michael Wex, the Toronto writer, raconteur and Yiddishist whose previous non-fiction book Born to Kvetch climbed to the top of the bestseller lists, now presents us with an equally learned and funny manual about how to be a human being — humane, considerate, and wise enough to do the right thing. How to Be a…

Beider on Polish-Jewish surnames

What’s in a name — or, more precisely, a Jewish surname? No one, it seems, has ever been able to answer that question with as much scientific methodology and linguistic and historical background as Alexander Beider, a 32-year-old Moscow-born statistician who emigrated about 1990 to Paris, where he lives and works as a computer programmer.…

Beider on Russian-Jewish Surnames

Alexander Beider, who is arguably the world’s foremost expert on Jewish names, has revised and updated his 1993 Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire, a four-year task that he undertook knowing it would probably not generate adequate renumeration for him. If that proves to be the case, he may yet take comfort in…

The ‘Dangerous’ Emma Goldman

In April 2001, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival screened a 42-minute documentary on Emma Goldman, the legendary American-Jewish anarchist and feminist who spent several periods of exile in Toronto. Coleman Romalis’s film Emma Goldman: The Anarchist Guest presented a refreshing and overdue account of Goldman’s productive years in Toronto. A recent book pays more attention…

Orchestrating the American Dream: Bernstein family history

Sam Bernstein, a New England industrialist who acquired the franchise to the Frederics hair-styling machine in the mid-1920s, became a remarkable overnight success after America was seized by a permanent-wave craze at the height of the flapper era. “One day in 1927, I didn’t have a nickel to my name,” he used to say. “The…

Delisle exposes tradition of anti-semitism in Quebec

Three years after her controversial book The Traitor and the Jew exposed anti-semitic and Nazi-sympathizing sentiments in Depression-era Quebec, Esther Delisle is working on a second book, this one about an underground “pipeline” that enabled French Nazi collaborators and war criminals to escape to French Canada after World War II. “I’m looking at the Canadian…

Canada’s Jews: A People’s Journey

Gerald Tulchinsky, professor emeritus of history at Queen’s University in Kingston, has just produced his magnum opus in the form of a new 630-page book, Canada’s Jews: A People’s Journey, published by the University of Toronto Press in both hardcover and softcover. “I wanted to describe and analyze the significance of the transitions that Jews…

Patai’s history of Hungarian Jews

The Jews of Hungary: History, Culture, Psychology (Wayne State University Press) by Raphael Patai is a monumental 720-page treatise that traces the history of the Jews of the Carpathian basin from their origin in Roman times to their near-obliteration in 1944 and beyond, right up to the present moment. Patai, who died recently at 86, was…