Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Jewish, of course

Year ago David Levene (my ex) went to a talk about how you know whether someone mentioned in the Jewish Chronicle is Jewish or not.  I've sometimes picked up Jewish papers in the US, and it's never been clear whether they followed this kind of code, so I can't tell whether this is what I love about Judaism, or whether it's what I love about Anglo-Judaism  (I converted in the UK, and never feel at home going to services in the US). [This is an extract from my diary]

D called. He had been to a talk on linguistic markers in the Jewish Chronicle: how are Jews and non-Jews identified?  Sometimes context is enough: John Smith has been appointed Court Recorder. If the name is Jewish, and the person is Jewish, this need not be specified. If the person is famous, it's assumed readers know - Frankie Vaughan performed at such-and-such a charity event.  What if the person is famous, but not that famous?  "Michael Tilton-Thomas (whose grandfather was the Yiddish scholar Tomashevsky) . . ." Suppose there's a long piece about a woman and her family; at the end it says "Mrs So-and-So, her parents and children are members of the West London Synagogue."  This is to indicate that her husband is not Jewish.  Or this: "Mr Aarons, the pro-Israel writer . . ." -- it would not be specified that a Jew was pro-Israel. Sporting event: "AB came fourth in the tennis singles, losing to CD. EF won the event."  AB is the only Jew (that's why the person who came fourth is mentioned first in the article.)  Oh - one brought up earlier.  A piece about Seinfeld.  Everyone knows Jerry Seinfeld is Jewish.  But what if it mentions Seinfeld and George (Jason Alexander)?  People may not know Jason Alexander is Jewish.  "Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander (born Jason Greenspan) . . ."
(Surely I cannot be alone in being enchanted by the grandfather who was the Yiddish scholar Tomaschevsky. )

I'm really putting up a post, though, because there's a piece in the Guardian about divorce (here), and I wanted to put forward a different point of view, and I thought I'd do this on Twitter and wanted to link to a post HERE about the talk in which the Yiddish scholar Tomashevsky was a case in point.

Perhaps I should write a post later about divorce, but hey.

Interestingly, I was asked for a bio by my editor at PRH a few years back, when they decided to reissue The Last Samurai, and I was initially baffled - what could people possibly want to know?  I then realized that, while most biographical details would be no interest to anyone, the Jewish Chronicle and its readers would DEFINITELY be interested in the conversion to Judaism.  (I have no idea how the Jewish Chronicle would convey the fact that I had merely converted to Reform, in the eye of many Judaism-lite, but this is exactly the kind of thing we suddenly realize we would very much like to know.).  Sadly, my editor thought this was TMI, so, hm, but also wtf?  Are we all not enchanted by the JC?  But OK, OK, OK.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

brave new babies, Glover revisited

Was reading Jonathan Glover's website and came across this video (70s? early 80s?) on genetic engineering, with contributions from his two young sons, enchanting: