“People Love Dead Jews”: Conversation With Author Dara Horn and Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz

Top Pick September 13, 2022 Newton Free
Dara Horn (Courtesy photo)
Dara Horn (Courtesy photo)

Join author Dara Horn and Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz as they discuss Horn’s book, “People Love Dead Jews.”

The book is a startling and profound exploration of how Jewish history is exploited to comfort the living. Renowned and beloved as a prize-winning novelist, Horn has also been publishing penetrating essays since she was a teenager. Often asked by major publications to write on subjects related to Jewish culture―and increasingly in response to a recent wave of deadly antisemitic attacks―Horn was troubled to realize what all of these assignments had in common: She was being asked to write about dead Jews, never about living ones. In these essays, Horn reflects on subjects as far-flung as the international veneration of Anne Frank, the mythology that Jewish family names were changed at Ellis Island, the blockbuster traveling exhibition “Auschwitz,” the marketing of the Jewish history of Harbin, China, and the little-known life of the “righteous gentile” Varian Fry.

Throughout, she challenges us to confront the reasons there might be so much fascination with Jewish deaths and so little respect for Jewish lives unfolding in the present. Horn draws upon her travels, her research and also her own family life―trying to explain Shakespeare’s “Shylock” to a curious 10-year-old, her anger when swastikas are drawn on desks in her children’s school, the profound perspective offered by traditional religious practice and study―to assert the vitality, complexity and depth of Jewish life against an antisemitism that, far from being disarmed by the mantra of “Never forget,” is on the rise. As Horn explores the (not so) shocking attacks on the American Jewish community in recent years, she reveals the subtler dehumanization built into the public piety that surrounds the Jewish past―making the radical argument that the benign reverence we give to past horrors is itself a profound affront to human dignity.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2022, 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
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Newton, MA 02459

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