A Rich Brew: How Cafés Created Modern Jewish Culture

A Rich Brew: How Cafés Created Modern Jewish Culture

Book Talk with Author Shachar Pinsker

Co-Sponsored with the Center for Jewish History

Sunday, November 4, 2018, 3:00 pm

$10 general; $5 AJHS/CJH/Partner members, seniors, students

Shachar Pinsker (University of Michigan) provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of the coffeehouse and its role in shaping modern Jewish culture. He uncovers a network of interconnected cafés that were central to the modern Jewish experience in a time of migration and urbanization. Pinsker follows coffeehouses in Odessa, Warsaw, Vienna, Berlin, New York City, and Tel Aviv, from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries. These cafés fostered a modern Jewish cultural ferment, an exchange of philosophical ideas and political ideologies, as well as a new Jewish literary culture. The mix of the national and transnational characteristics of the coffeehouse, and their "otherness" explain why many of these cafés were owned by Jews, why Jews became their most devoted habitués, and how cafés acquired associations with Jewishness. Drawing on stories, novels, poems, newspaper articles, memoirs, archival documents, photographs, caricatures, and artwork, Pinsker shows how Jewish modernity was born in the café, nourished, and sent out into the world by way of politics, literature, art, and theater. What was experienced and created in the space of the coffeehouse touched thousands who read, saw, and imbibed a modern culture that redefined what it meant to be a Jew in the world.  Pinsker will be joined for a lively discussion with author Ruby Namdar and Anita Norich (2018-19 NEH Senior Scholar at CJH, University of Michigan).