Category Archives: Judaism

Review: The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig

The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig is a combined study on human behavior and Austrian life. Each story examines behavior, with great detail within the boundaries of Austria’s social standards and mores.

The stories were not only period pieces, but social statements regarding ethics/morals, war and pacifism, and the living standards of the elite versus the poor. Most of the characters are depressed, stuck in a rote of life, and give off an aura of tragic lives lived. The stories are filled with melancholy and slices of drama. Drama played a major role in Austrian lives, and survival depended on roles played.

Pacifism is conveyed in the story entitled “Compulsion“. It involves an artist who receives orders to go to the Austrian consulate. His back and forth indecisiveness reflects those who do not believe in war, yet also feel they should do their duty to their country. Responsibility to his homeland is constantly questioned. Should he go, should he stay, should he go?

Religion factors into many of the stories, from Judaism to Catholicism. The individuals, family units and their beliefs are illuminated through Zweig’s writing. The treatment of Jewish individuals is written with insight and cognizance. Secular Jews were not necessarily considered part of the Austrian fold, depending on time frame and location.

The details within the stories are masterful and filled with perfection. The reader is exposed to the psychology of living in Europe during tragic and uncertain times. This psychology includes the poverty stricken individual’s struggle to survive in a world that looks upon them as less than desirable. Their very psyche is affected, in every aspect.

The bourgeois also strive to fit in. They feel somewhat above those who live in dire straights, but feel less confident than the well off elitists. They are the in between people. The elitists don’t necessarily fare better within their financial circumstances, as odd as that might sound.

Each story is a page-turner in its own right. Some of the characters have life-altering events, along with physical limitations, mindsets and philosophies, ideals, fears and struggles. The stories are not connected. Yet they share a time and place of prewar and war, and the situations that result due to war’s impact on citizens and their lives.

The stories cover the years from 1900 through 1935, with two additional stories having been unpublished until 1951 and 1987, respectively. This reader could see the author’s disintegration from society through the written prose. Zweig’s life was filled with disillusion, antiwar sentiment and a depressive state. So much is apparent in his writing, regarding his mindset, controlled by his dreary outlook on life. His work conveys much of his own thoughts, opinions and emotions, vividly. At least this reader thought so.

The film, The Grand Budapest Hotel is based on some of Zweig’s stories and novels. I can definitely see illuminations of that throughout this book. I have read two of his novels, but had not read this particular collection of works. The Post Office Girl is one of the novels, and the film is also based, in part, on this novel, according to the director, Wes Anderson (I saw it clearly).

Stefan Zweig is brilliant with his visuals, minute details, and in conveying emotional content. He was a masterful story teller, transporting this reader to Austrian life during the first three decades of the 20th century. The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig is a valuable collection of works within one book. The historical value is priceless, and I found the book to be a masterpiece.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Films, Historical Fiction, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog

Support for Kidnapped Teens and Their Families

I have added a lovely Illustration of a tree with three yellow ribbons inside my header. It was created by my friend, Leora. I saw it posted on her website, and asked for her for permission to use it.

I have put it as part of my header so it can be seen immediately upon viewing my website. I was initially going to put it in my sidebar, but changed my mind.

It is my way of showing support for the three teenaged boys kidnapped in Israel, and show support for their families and for all those individuals who are trying to locate them. I have a 19-year old grandson, and two teen-aged granddaughters (19 and 15). I also have younger grandchildren.

As a mother and a grandmother, I can not imagine the anxiety, worry and the unknown details that the families of the three teens are surrounded by. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of them, and to all those involved in trying to bring them back.

Thank you, Leora, for allowing me to use your lovely illustration.
~~~

Mothers of teens appeal for help.

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Jews and Kayaking

red kayak1

While walking at the lake, yesterday, I saw a man in a red kayak, gliding across the water. For some reason, I began to wonder if there were any Jews who were well-known in the kayaking world.

I know my father would often go kayaking at Prospect Lake in Brooklyn or Central Park in New York City. But, he wasn’t a famous individual. Famous to me, YES, to the world of kayaking, NO.

kayak2

I came home and did a search for “Jews and kayaking”. The Jewish Virtual Library lists four men who have earned world recognition for their efforts in the sport. Their biographies regarding kayaking include the Olympics and other world kayaking events, that put them at the top of the field.

This article caught my eye: Immanuel Braverman, a Holocaust survivor, also kayaked white-waters.

Did you know that about 8,000 Jews were smuggled out of Denmark, and many were on kayaks.

Please excuse the graininess of the photos. I had to zoom my lens in quite a bit in order to get the captures.

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Filed under Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Photography

Sunday Scenes: June 21, 2014: Buddies

buddies2

The scene above was captured about two years ago at a pond located within an orange grove. My grandie, Logan, was with me, along with my grandie Emily. Logan was three at the time. Today is his fifth birthday!

Happy Birthday, Logan! Yom Huledet Sameakh!

I remember how the grandies stared in awe at the Great White Egret. I did, too, for that matter. But, then I saw the turtle looking up at the Egret. It reminded me of two old buddies talking about life.

It was a moment in time that is memorable to the three of us. Each time we wander through there, we talk about that scene, and we look to see if there is a Great White Egret conversing with a turtle.

Leora, you asked if there was something in nature we were grateful for. This particular adventure, with the grandies, is one of those awe-of-nature moments.

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Review: The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank

The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank: A Novel, by Ellen Feldman, is an interesting novel of the Holocaust written from the unique perspective of what might have been. It is a poignant and compelling story line, which includes haunting remnants of the first love between Anne Frank and Peter van Pels. The historical novel kept me captured through the last page.

Feldman details the historical, and little known facts regarding the diary of Anne Frank. She gives the audience a vision of “what if”. What if Peter had survived? What would his life have been like if he had survived? The flow of the story shows how the boy, Peter, grew into an adult. Feldman is extremely brilliant and descriptive in detailing his journey from child to man. There are emotional illuminations, expanding on how he developed into a man who came to hate himself, through his own guilt, denial, assimilation, new identity, and fear.

The novel leaves one to wonder whether promises made as a teenager should be kept as we grow and mature. The author analyzes that factor and how it plays into Peter’s life. The analogies in the novel are compelling, the fear often causing a catastrophe of Self, so to speak.

Peter’s attempt to forget his past, and start anew after emigrating to America, only dig him deeper into the roots he tries to blot out. He marries, has children, yet he vividly cultivates memories of his past through flashbacks, and entwines them in his mind. Some memories are real and some are imagined. All are after-effects of the Holocaust. We watch him deteriorate before our eyes, and can envision his actions through Feldman’s masterful word imagery…such as when he discovers Anne Frank’s Diary has been published.

The events that follow that discovery are a study on the fear Holocaust victims carried with them…hiding, moving, whispering, running. The book became Peter’s stepping stone backwards, forwards, and backwards again into fear and loathing.

Having read over 1,000 Holocaust books, I know that there were survivors who took the same course as Peter, in order to try to move forward with life. People do what they have to, emotionally, in order to journey through life, after emerging from a horrendous situation.

I was intrigued by the information contained in this amazing historical novel. There are scenarios regarding the events leading to the lawsuit filed against Otto Frank, disputing some of the facts that were permitted to be given creative license in the play and film.

The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank might not be a book for everyone. Some people do not like fictional Holocaust accounts. I found Ellen Feldman’s writing to be brilliant, cutting to the core of emotions and logic. The book is infused with incredible word-paintings, and historical relevancy, leaving the reader with much to ponder.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Holocaust/Genocide, Judaism, Lorri's Blog

Skirball Cultural Center

The Skirball Cultural Center in Beverly Hills, CA, is a place I frequently visit. I go there for special events, exhibits, and to just feel surrounded by an atmosphere devoted to Jewish history and cultural arts.

This is the front entrance to the Skirball.

Near the front entrance.

The pathway to the parking lot as you exit the Skirball.

For updates on upcoming exhibits, events, etc., visit their website.

All photography is my copyright and may not be reproduced without my express permission.

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Filed under Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Uncategorized