What We’re Reading: Dina Gold
Each week, we’ll share what Moment editors are reading and watching, from news to novels. Here, Moment senior editor Dina Gold, originally from London, tells us what’s attracted her interest.
Since Moment published an e-book on Anti-Semitism in April, the press has become awash with reports of the phenomenon now rampaging across Europe–such as this in The New York Times and this in Canada’s Globe and Mail. In his opinion piece “Why Americans See Israel the Way They Do,” Roger Cohen begins: “To cross the Atlantic to America, as I did recently from London, is to move from one moral universe to its opposite in relation to Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza.” He concludes his piece by reflecting that “I am pleased to have become a naturalized American.” As a recent new American myself, I wholly endorse his sentiment.
Day After Night: I belong to a book club and a few weeks ago someone suggested we should all read Anita Diamant’s fourth novel, set in 1945 during the British Mandate of Palestine. Although first published in 2009, none of us had read it. I am three-quarters of the way through and the tension is building. Four young Jewish women Holocaust survivors, each one profoundly affected by her experiences during the war years, are interned in the Atlit detention camp near Haifa. With the British military holding “illegal” immigrants, the Palmach is plotting to stage a breakout and rescue 200 prisoners. The characters are fictional, but the rescue is based on an incredible true story.
The Harness Maker’s Dream: Nathan Kallison and the Rise of South Texas by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Nick Kotz is certainly on my must-read list. Like him, I too am obsessed with delving in archives and investigating my own family’s tumultuous history (but more on that another time). Nick Kotz trawled through census documents, old newspapers, military and court records, marriage and death certificates, city directories, digitized source material and the Internet to unveil the story of his grandfather, Nathan Kallison who, at age 17 in 1890, left behind pogroms in his native Ukraine and made his way to America.
Twenty three million people (including two million Jews) from Russia and Eastern Europe flooded the U.S. between 1880 and 1920. Nathan started out in the poverty-stricken ghettos of Chicago but after marriage and four children he and his wife Anna moved to San Antonio, Texas. There Nathan, who had learnt the art of harness making, hence the title, founded one of the largest farm and ranch supply businesses (Kallison’s Big Country Store), became a stalwart member of the community and established an innovative cattle ranch where he bred prized Herefords and introduced environmentally advanced methods to water the parched south Texas land.
This family and historical narrative has been hailed by the Texas Jewish Historical Society for its brilliant depiction of pioneering life for Jewish immigrants in the lone star state, illustrating the amount of detail that anyone in pursuit of their own family’s past can uncover. Mr Kotz will be talking about his quest to uncover his family’s long-lost past at the Washington Jewish Literary Festival, which runs from October 19-29.
Interview with Suzy Menkes in the UK Jewish Chronicle: Hats off to Suzy Menkes, who, I discovered on reading this interview, is leading the way in mature career moves. This Jewish doyenne of the fashion world, renowned for her extraordinary quiff hairstyle, has been fashion critic of the International Herald Tribune for the last 25 years. She has just landed a new role, indeed a dream job. At the venerable age of 70, Ms. Menkes has recently been installed by Condé Nast at the helm of all Vogue’s websites reaching millions of devoted fashion aficionados around the globe. There are some revealing insights into Ms Menkes’ thoughts on the sometimes fractious relationship between the fashion industry and the Jewish community, the color black, the phenomenon of the use of Nazi symbols in fashion design and the sanctity of Yom Kippur. You go girl!
Being a former BBC journalist, I am only too well aware how doing live TV, especially a “piece to camera,” is notoriously prone to the unexpected. But this one is an absolute classic. Pity this poor France 24 reporter in Gaza … you just have to watch it.