A Jewish Kapo in Auschwitz: History, Memory, and the Politics of Survival
Eliezer Grynbaum (1908-1948) was a Polish Jew denounced for serving as a Kapo while interned at Auschwitz. He was the communist son of Itzhak Grynbaum, the most prominent secular leader of interwar Polish Jewry, who later became the chairman of the Jewish Agency’s Rescue Committee during the Holocaust, and Israel’s first Minister of the Interior. The denunciation of the son, in light of the father’s high placement in both Polish and Israeli politics and his suspicious death during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, adds intrigue to a controversy that really centers on the question of what constitutes – and how do we evaluate - moral behavior in Auschwitz.
Tuvia Friling is professor of modern Jewish history at the Ben-Gurion Research Institute, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
Becoming Israeli: National Ideals & Everyday Life in the 1950s
With a light touch and many wonderful illustrations, historian Anat Helman investigates “life on the ground” in Israel during the first years of statehood. She looks at how citizens—natives of the land, longtime immigrants, and newcomers—coped with the state’s efforts to turn an incredibly diverse group of people into a homogenous whole. She investigates the efforts to make Hebrew the lingua franca of Israel, the uses of humor, and the effects of a constant military presence, along with such familiar aspects of daily life as communal dining on the kibbutz, the nightmare of trying to board a bus, and moviegoing as a form of escapism. In the process Helman shows how ordinary people adapted to the standards and rules of the political and cultural elites and negotiated the chaos of early statehood.
Anat Helman is a senior lecturer in the Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her most recent book is "A Coat of Many Colors: Dress Culture in the Young State of Israel."
The Zionist Paradox: Hebrew Literature and Israeli Identity
Contemporary Israelis suffer from a strange disorder. Despite the obvious successes of the Zionist enterprise and the State of Israel, tension persists, with a collective sense that something is wrong and should be better.
This cognitive dissonance arises from the disjunction between "place" (defined as what Israel is really like) and "Place" (defined as the imaginary community comprised of history, myth, and dream).
Through the lens of five major works in Hebrew by Hebrew writers Abraham Mapu (1853), Theodore Herzl (1902), Yosef Luidor (1912), Moshe Shamir (1948) and Amos Oz (1963), Schwartz unearths the core of this paradox as it evolves over 100 years, from the mid-nineteenth century to the 1960s.
Yigal Schwartz is professor of Hebrew Literature and director of the Heksherim Research Institute for Jewish and Israeli Literature and Culture at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.