In 1982, COMMENTARY published in English for the first time The Rebbetzin, a 1974 novella by the Lithuanian writer Chaim Grade (1910-1982). Born in Vilnius, Grade began his intellectual life as a student of the noted Torah scholar Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz, but by his late twenties had become one of his city’s most admired writers. The introduction accompanying COMMENTARY’S original publication of the story notes that Grade “specialized in exploring the inner life of East European Jewry between the two world wars—a period when such modernizing forces as secularism, socialism, and Zionism were in active and often ugly conflict with one another and with traditional religious beliefs and practices. No other writer rendered that world and its conflicts more vividly or with more intimate authority than Grade.” Set in Lithuania in the late 1920′s or early 1930′s The Rebbetzin takes as its subject the trials and tribulations of the aging rabbi Koenisgberg, his wife Perele, and their adult children. This weekend, we offer The Rebbetzin in its entirety, as translated from the Yiddish by Harold Rabinowitz and Inna Hecker Grade.
Posts For: May 25, 2007
It hasn’t received much attention, but added at that last minute to the recent immigration reform bill was a provision called the DREAM Act, which has strong bipartisan support from such disparate backers as John Kerry and Orrin Hatch. This legislation would create a fast-track toward citizenship for a select group of undocumented immigrants—those who entered the U.S. before age 16, have no criminal record, graduate from high school, and then complete two years either in the military or in college.
This is a good step but doesn’t go nearly far enough for my liking. The essential principle of the DREAM Act—that you can earn citizenship through productive behavior—ought to be expanded. We should offer citizenship to anyone who is willing to serve a set term in the U.S. armed forces—say, four years. This is a proposal that I’ve made in several articles over the past few years, and one that could address a number of problems at once. It could lessen our current recruiting difficulties, increase the knowledge of foreign languages and cultures within the armed forces, and provide a fresh path to assimilation for a self-selected group of highly motivated immigrants.
On May 17, two trains, one moving south and the other north, crossed the demilitarized zone, the strip of land that divides the two Koreas. The last time a train traveled through what is now the DMZ was in 1951 during the Korean war.
“It is not simply a test run,” proclaimed South Korea’s unification minister, Lee Jae-jeong. “It means reconnecting the severed bloodline of our people.” But the reconnection lasted for only a few hours. There are no plans for regular service, or even further tests. There will be no more train runs until the south comes up with even more piles of cash. Seoul underwrote the entire cost of about $600 million to remove mines from the DMZ, reconnect the rail lines, and build stations. The work was completed in 2003, but no test run occurred until this month because of North Korea’s intransigence. To permit the trains to make their short runs last week, the south had to fork over another $86.5 million in aid to Pyongyang.
“I cannot understand why we should give rice, flour, fertilizer, and everything else the North Koreans want when they don’t do anything for us,” said Hong Moo-sun, a South Korean who demonstrated against last week’s test. Many foreigners would agree with Hong, especially because North Korea’s missile tests last July and nuclear detonation in October implicitly threatened the south. Yet there is a perfectly logical reason why the South Korean government engages in diplomacy that appears to be utterly inexplicable: the quest for political popularity.