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Jews and Non-Jews: Memories and Interactions from the Perspective of Cultural Studies

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Edited By Lucyna Aleksandrowicz-Pędich and Jacek Partyka

The book adds new studies of memories and interactions between Jews and non-Jews to the historical and cultural research on this topic. It gathers in one volume the results of work by scholars from several countries, while the topics of the articles cover various disciplines: history, sociology, psychology, literary and language studies. The specific themes refer to the cultures and interactions with non-Jews in places such as Kiev, Vienna, Ireland, Springfield, Sosúa as well as reflect upon interactions in literary texts by Czesław Milosz and other Polish writers, some contemporary Jewish-American novelists and South American writers. Finally there are texts referring to the experience of the Holocaust and the post-Holocaust trauma as well as German-Israeli and Polish-Jewish relations and heritage.
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The Community Memory of Springfield, Missouri Suppresses the City’s Jewish Past

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“Collective memory – the memory preserved by a group of people – mirrors the perception of what was meaningful from that people’s past, and, in turn, what is salient in their present.”

Mark R. Cohen, p. 149

Jewish religion is steeped in remembrances of times past. Every holiday, the Sabbath included, is based on the idea of remembrance. In some ways Jews are obsessed with memory. Joshua Foer, the 2006 USA Memory Champion and journalist, explains that “memories … are constantly shaping how we perceive the world. This is part of the genius of Jewish memory: our present is constantly being informed by the set of collective memories we possess as Jews” (58). It is this “set of collective memories” that recreates history. What is remembered is based on memory, sometimes people purposely select what to remember and other times they just forget. This paper examines what a particular Jewish community remembers about itself and how that parallels the documents available.

The first Jews in North America were of Spanish descent and landed in New Amsterdam (today’s New York) in 1654, fleeing the Brazilian Inquisition. Their ship, St. Catrina, arrived in the New Amsterdam port bringing twenty-three Jews. For many years, Brazil had been a Dutch protectorate and had recently been recaptured by the Portuguese. These Jews hoped to be protected by the Dutch government once again.

Before President Thomas Jefferson bought the land that included Missouri, which in 1803 became a state,...

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