Thursday, November 19, 2009

Israel Zangwill and the "Children of the Ghetto": A Real Portrayal of Jews

In 1909 in front of the Beth Israel Literary Society in Houston, Texas, a Miss Sara Segal spoke about writer Israel Zangwill's true portrayal of Jews in his popular book "Children of the Ghetto: A Study of a Peculiar People," which was written in 1892. Zangwill subsequently turned his book into a play that was performed in New York City seven years later.

Miss Segal remarks that for the most part Jews had not to that point been portrayed in literature in some fictionalized way, not as they truly are. In his book, Zangwill describes a myriad of interesting Jewish characters who more truly represent what the Jew is "in fact; not in fiction." She recites several passages from the book to illustrate what she believes presents the Jew in a more realistic light. According to Miss Segal, "The book consists of a mass of human interest as varied in its fun and sadness as life itself."

You might like to enhance your experience by imagining, if you wish, that you are in Houston, Texas during the latter part of winter in 1909, attending this Literary Society talk. You may also like to read aloud to yourself her talk as if you were the presenter, which might perhaps help you to more fully appreciate her words.

You can find the transcript of her talk as found in Houston's Jewish Herald at

No comments:

Post a Comment