New Article: Jacobs, Hebrew on a Desert Island: The Case of Annabelle Farmelant

Jacobs, Adriana X. “Hebrew on a Desert Island: The Case of Annabelle Farmelant.” Studies in American Jewish Literature 34 (2015): 154-74.





The poetic output of the American-born poet and playwright Annabelle “Chana” Farmelant consists entirely of two books of Hebrew poetry, Iyyim bodedim (Desert Islands) and Pirchei zehut (Flowers of Identity), published in Israel in the early 1960s. In this article, I offer an overview of Farmelant’s oeuvre through my own English translations of her poems and in the context of American Hebrew literary history and scholarship, which has long neglected women writers. Farmelant’s short career as a poet notwithstanding, her work engaged directly—and thereby offers crucial attestation of—the gender politics and U.S.-Israel literary relations that contributed to the decline of American Hebrew literature in the mid-twentieth century and to Farmelant’s early departure from the field of modern Hebrew poetry.

New Book: Katz, Bringing Zion Home. Israel in American Jewish Culture

Katz, Emily Alice. Bringing Zion Home. Israel in American Jewish Culture, 1948-1967. Albany: SUNY Press, 2015.


Katz, Bringing Zion Home


Bringing Zion Home examines the role of culture in the establishment of the “special relationship” between the United States and Israel in the immediate postwar decades. Many American Jews first encountered Israel through their roles as tastemakers, consumers, and cultural impresarios—that is, by writing and reading about Israel; dancing Israeli folk dances; promoting and purchasing Israeli goods; and presenting Israeli art and music. It was precisely by means of these cultural practices, argues Emily Alice Katz, that American Jews insisted on Israel’s “natural” place in American culture, a phenomenon that continues to shape America’s relationship with Israel today.

Katz shows that American Jews’ promotion and consumption of Israel in the cultural realm was bound up with multiple agendas, including the quest for Jewish authenticity in a postimmigrant milieu and the desire of upwardly mobile Jews to polish their status in American society. And, crucially, as influential cultural and political elites positioned “culture” as both an engine of American dominance and as a purveyor of peace in the Cold War, many of Israel’s American Jewish impresarios proclaimed publicly that cultural patronage of and exchange with Israel advanced America’s interests in the Middle East and helped spread the “American way” in the postwar world. Bringing Zion Home is the first book to shine a light squarely upon the role and importance of Israel in the arts, popular culture, and material culture of postwar America.

Emily Alice Katz teaches history at the University of California, Irvine.


Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

1. Introduction: Postwar American Jewry Reconsidered

2. Before Exodus: Writing Israel for an American Audience

3. Hora Hootenannies and Yemenite Hoedowns: Israeli Folk Dance in America

4. A Consuming Passion: Israeli Goods in American Jewish Culture

5. Cultural Emissaries and the Culture Explosion: Introducing Israeli Art and Music



New Article: Kaplan, “Zionism as Anticolonialism: The Case of Exodus”

Kaplan, Amy. “Zionism as Anticolonialism: The Case of Exodus.” American Literary History 25.4 (2013): 870-895.





If Exodus did not directly address these policy dilemmas of the Cold War, its narrative of Zionism as anticolonialism worked its magic on a global horizon where Americans worried about who would control the meaning of national revolutions. On a popular level, Exodus offered a symbolic resolution of the American ambivalence toward decolonization. Israel was located geographically among the Afro-Asian nations, but its recognizably Western qualities made it stand apart. At the same time Exodus was entertaining theater crowds, the American press was heralding Israel’s foreign policy aid as a nonimperial model for the modern development of Africa. Reports abounded about Africans studying in Israeli universities and kibbutzim and Israeli technicians “going out to assist the newly independent Africans, who find in Israel a welcome alternative to the traditional powers of East and West” (Schmidt). Articles with titles such as “Democracy’s Classroom for Africans” and a “Pilot Plant for Progress” (Seigel) portrayed Israel as an exemplary decolonized nation, and as “the strongest link between the white nations and the chaotic African situation” (Meyer E7). These stories placed Israel, like America, as a tutorial force for orderly modern development, inside the white Western world but opposed to European colonialism.