Salinger’s Protest from Dachau

By Jack Engelhard

We don’t have to wonder what J.D Salinger would have thought of the world today even as Israel fights back mobs from Syria and prepares for more bloodlust from its enemies domestic and abroad. Salinger told it plainly and powerfully in his novel “The Catcher in the Rye,” published in 1951, and following that, in his 60 years of retreat into silence. He would have called his vow of silence, “The fire between the words.”

“The Catcher in the Rye,” one of the most admired novels of the century past and present, is a work of loathing and lamentation despite its teenage lingo.

Holden Caulfield seeks truth and purity but finds mendacity and corruption. Justice, justice, he pursues. Do I suggest that Salinger was Biblical? Well, he certainly was Jewish. He was born to a Jewish father and not till later, after his Bar Mitzvah, did he find out that his mother was Catholic, passing for Jewish. (Please, save the technicalities for later.)

In his humility he never prided his Jewishness, nor did he ever shame it, like Philip Roth.

Along the way to his fame as one of our greatest writers, something happened to Salinger that demands our attention at this very moment as we brace for Israel’s summer of discontent, which has already started at all sides from a world that, once again, won’t calm down until it gets what it wants…

Salinger is our witness to what happened before and to what can happen again.

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Stereotyping Oursevles

By Jack Engelhard

The New York Times reminds us that Philip Roth is into his 50th year as a writer. His first book was “Goodbye, Columbus.”

Roth is an Establishment figure, a media darling. Our culture honors Jewish writers – and Jewish artists in general – who are not happy being Jewish. This theme runs through most of Roth’s works. This is a man running from his faith; uncomfortable in his skin. For that, he is celebrated.

The Jews in Roth’s novels are usually whining and groaning – objects of ridicule from clothing to behavior. There is no love of Jewish roots, no love of Torah. If Torah is mentioned, it’s done so in derision. Always there are complaints about being Jewish. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – That’s not writing. That’s kvetching.

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