Thursday, June 28, 2018

"A Rich Brew"

A Rich Brew: How Cafés Created Modern Jewish Culture by Shachar M. Pinsker describes café life in Odessa, Warsaw, Berlin, Vienna, New York, and Tel Aviv, from the 19th century to the era before World War II. The book is a magnificent treatment of the subject that has concerned me throughout writing this blog: that is, the subject of secular Jews and their culture. For a long time, I've been trying to understand how modern Jewish culture -- the secular variety -- was created. There are other answers, but this one is a good one.

Pinsker shows how an essential location where 19th and 20th century Jewish (and sometimes non-Jewish) writers and intellectuals gathered in these cities was their cafés. He describes how these cafés were often a "Jewish space" because of both the owners and the customers. He names many, many Yiddish, Hebrew, German, Russian, and other-language writers that I've heard of and in many cases that I've read, and describes the cafés they frequented. It's a very good read!

I wrote a sort of an appreciation of the book at my other blog, in this post "How Cafés Created Modern Jewish Culture."

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