Page 26 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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18
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
o f the worth and the truth o f the long line o f struggle from
past to present.3
In a word, if in the
galut
Judaism is a matter of the past,
in Israel it is a matter of the future. It is a religion of redemp­
tion, of commitment, of ongoing struggle. In her fiction Roiphe
seeks to give expression to this contrast of existential roles. Her
novel
Lovingkindness
(1987) is from this point of view a 1980’s
version of the dual image. She projects within the narra tor An­
nie, and her daughter Andrea, the twin pulls of the
galut
and
of Israeli Judaism. Mother and daughter are products of Amer­
ican civilization with its corruption, its fascination, its affluence,
its ease and its incredible technical achievements. Andrea, the
child of a one-parent family, scarred by the d rug culture, the
sexual revolution, the psychic distortions of her generation finds
herself in Israel in the course of travelling around Europe and
the Middle East with her hippy companion. There she is picked
up off the street by the zealous representatives of Yeshivat Ra­
chel, one of the new
baale-teshuvah
institutions. The novel con­
sists largely of a correspondence between Annie and her daugh­
ter Andrea, now renamed Sarai, and between Annie and the
head of the Yeshiva, Rabbi Joshua Cohen. The duality of the
two names Andrea/Sarai dramatizes a split as clear as that in
Abraham Cahan’s novel and Zangwill’s “Diary of a Meshumad.”
And in Annie’s oscillation between horrified disgust at the
ghetto-like existence which her daughter has chosen and ad­
miration for the idealism, devotion and sense of purpose of
the yeshiva folk, we have a neatly divided perspective which
lights up the problems of Diaspora versus Israel. In keeping
with this, the novel is distinguished by its balanced artistic struc­
ture — a pleasing pattern of sharply-drawn symmetries.
EXTREMES HIGHLIGHTED
Of course, Roiphe is cheating. Instead of allowing Israeli J u ­
daism to be represented by mainline orthodoxy, by
Bnei Akiva
or Bar-Ilan University — and to allow that image to interact
with Diaspora Judaism both of the alienated and less alienated
types — she chooses to set off the more extreme forms against
3. Anne Roiphe,
Generation Without Memory: A Jewish Journal in Christian America
(New York: 1981), pp. 53, 55.