Biography: The eternal communist

By Wilf Altman, April 27, 2012

His father had been a talmudic scholar. His mother ran a corner shop. So how did Bert Ramelson come to be described by Harold Wilson as "one of the most dangerous men in Britain"?

Ramelson, born into a Yiddish-speaking family in pre-1917 Ukraine, became one of Britain's foremost communists during the turbulent years of industrial strife in the 1960s and '70s.


An innocent experiment

April 27, 2012

To acknowledge that antisemitism was in keeping with Edith Wharton's generation (this year sees the 150th anniversary of her birth) is not to dismiss or excuse it. There have always been others who have managed not to hold such views however prevalent among their peers. She was a writer whose brilliance lay in her forensic analysis and interpretation of her own, New York, haut society.


Rabbi's restoration tale

By Madeleine Kingsley, April 19, 2012

The Hide-and-Seek Children

In the chaotic aftermath of the Second World War, the late Rabbi Dr Solomon Schonfeld, the marvellous hero of Barbara Barnett's story of post-Shoah redemption, trawled Slovakia for young survivors: orphans, slave labourers and those hidden away by righteous gentiles.

The dynamic Schonfeld had already saved thousands of children before and during the war, origina


Czech point of departure

April 11, 2012

Towards the beginning of this memoir, Heda Kovaly writes that "if every beginning is hard, the beginning of hardship is the hardest." She was referring to the end of her comfortable life with prosperous parents and the beginning of a train journey deporting Czechoslovakian Jews to the freezing hell of the Lodz ghetto in 1941.
After surviving Lodz and several other incarcerations, including in Aus


Revolutionary who fanned female fervour

By Jennifer Lipman, April 11, 2012

With Occupy protesters and tent cities having spread around the world in recent times, it is an interesting moment to consider the efforts of a prior generation of dreamers: the anarchists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
From New York to Vienna, groups of angry, radical and often impoverished intellectuals met in cafés and salons to discuss how to throw off the chains of capitalism a


Goldberg's variations on Zionist thinking

By Lawrence Joffe, April 6, 2012

Often outspoken Liberal rabbi emeritus David Goldberg's This Is Not The Way is a searing critique of Israel's slide from democratic values, and a lament about how the state has come to dominate the Jewish agenda worldwide.


Love in an intractable climate

By Sipora Levy, April 6, 2012

Yasmine is the final part of a trilogy by Eli Amir - a social activist, political adviser and prize-winning author - about Jewish-Iraqi experience in Israel. The first, The Dove Flyer was described by Amir in a JC interview as "a book of dreams" in which "the dreams of all the main characters are broken as they go into exile".


Three-part harmony

By Moris Farhi, April 6, 2012

Readers familiar with the Middle East's chaotic politics will know Hillel Halkin as the author of four influential books and numerous commentaries on Israel and the region. Many will affirm that he is also one of the foremost translators into English of some of the best works of Hebrew and Yiddish literatures. Melisande! What Are Dreams? is his first novel.


Three Lives: A Biography of Stefan Zweig

By Amanda Hopkinson, April 2, 2012

Stefan Zweig, in recent years, has not so much reprised an earlier reputation in this country as achieved one hitherto denied him beyond his native Austria.

This cannot be merely a testament either to the pioneering Modernism of this uniquely voiced author or to the increased sophistication of a new generation of Anglophone readers.


The Origin of Violence

By David Herman, April 2, 2012

In the past few years there has been a wave of acclaimed French novels about Vichy and the Holocaust - Irène Némirovsky's Suite Française, Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones, Tatiana de Rosnay's Sarah's Key and now Fabrice Humbert's The Origin of Violence, winner of the first-ever French Orange Prize.