American Jewish Loss after the Holocaust by Laura Levitt

By Laura Levitt

Many folks belong to groups which have been scarred by means of poor calamities. and lots of folks come from households that experience suffered grievous losses. How we think about those legacies of loss and the methods they tell one another are the questions Laura Levitt takes up during this provocative and passionate book.

An American Jew whose kinfolk was once indirectly stricken by the Holocaust, Levitt grapples with the demanding situations of contending with usual Jewish loss. She means that even though the reminiscence of the Holocaust could seem to overshadow all different kinds of loss for American Jews, it may possibly additionally open up probabilities for enticing those extra own and daily legacies.

Weaving in discussions of her family tales and writing in a fashion that's either deeply own and erudite, Levitt exhibits what occurs while private and non-private losses are obvious subsequent to one another, and what occurs while tricky artistic endeavors or commemoration, comparable to museum shows or movies, are noticeable along traditional family members tales approximately extra intimate losses. In so doing she illuminates how via those ''ordinary stories'' we may possibly create an alternate version for confronting Holocaust reminiscence in Jewish culture.

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And to clarify what is at stake in the gendering of these discussions, I contrast these texts and stories with those of two contemporary writers, both men of my generation, and their efforts to grapple with these issues in writing. 23 Returning to my family in order to get at these issues in a more intimate way, I use a few different images of Mary, a snapshot taken in the summer of 1939 at her wedding to my grandfather and another taken with her first grandchild. I look at these images in relation to the photographs described by Klepfisz in her poem in order to discuss Mary’s role as a mother and as a keeper of family memories.

Through cutouts and bridges, we keep finding ourselves near but unable ever to touch these faces. We catch glimpses of them even when we are not in the actual Tower. In other words, not only do we literally travel through the Tower more than once, but the Tower also seeps through the rest of the permanent exhibit. At various points along the way, newly revealed faces, which only become visible at these distinct locations, confront us. Our return to the photographs again and again in terms of the actual architectural space of the museum enacts not so much the authorized narrative of the display but the kinds of longings I have described.

Art Spiegelman’s Maus functions as a paradigmatic and generative text . . allowing me to mark out the parameters raised within my particular reading of postmodernity” (12). In Family Frames Hirsch goes on to explain that Art Spiegelman’s delayed, indirect, secondary memory captures best what she means by postmemory. Maus is a familial story, collaboratively constructed by father and son. The Spiegelman / Zylberberg families have lived through the massive devastation of the Holocaust, and thus the details of family interaction are inflected by a history that refuses to remain in the background or outside the text.

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