Strangers in Berlin: Modern Jewish Literature between East and West, 1919-1933
"Michigan Studies in Comparative Jewish Cultures," University of Michigan Press, 2016
2017 Winner for Yiddish
Canadian Jewish Literary Awards
Strangers in Berlin presents Jewish literature in the Weimar Republic as the product of a dynamic encounter between East and West. During the 1920s, Berlin was a cosmopolitan hub where German-Jewish writers crossed paths with Hebrew and Yiddish migrant writers for a brief, vibrant moment. Whether they were native to Germany or sojourners from abroad, these writers responded to rising nationalist movements throughout Europe by cultivating their own images of homeland in verse, and they did so in three languages: German, Hebrew, and Yiddish. Tracing the rise of the Weimar Republic out of the ashes of World War I in 1919 to its descent into fascism in 1933, Rachel Seelig portrays Berlin as a “threshold” between exile and homeland in which national and artistic commitments were reexamined, reclaimed, and rebuilt. In the pulsating yet precarious capital of Germany’s first fledgling democracy, the collision of East and West engendered a broad spectrum of poetic styles and Jewish national identities.
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The German-Hebrew Dialogue: Studies of Encounter and Exchange
"Perspectives on Jewish Texts and Contexts," De Gruyter Press, 2017
In the wake of the Holocaust, it seemed there was no place for German in Israel and no trace of Hebrew remained in Germany — the two languages and their cultures appeared as divergent as the directions of their scripts. Yet when placed side by side on opposing pages, German and Hebrew converge in the middle. The German-Hebrew Dialogue is dedicated to the seam where these two languages meet. Comprised of essays on literature, history, philosophy, and the visual and performing arts, it outlines the contours of German-Hebrew Studies, an emerging field dedicated to exploring the mutual influence of two linguistic cultures long held as separate or even as diametrically opposed. From Moses Mendelssohn’s arrival in Berlin in 1748 to the recent wave of Israeli migration to Berlin, the book sheds new light on the painful yet productive relationship between modern German and Hebrew cultures.