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Steve Stern's "The Wedding Jester"

Steve Stern is a gifted comic writer. Like Nathan Englander, he weaves into his stories legends and mystic figures of the Jewish people: Dybbuk, Golem, shekinah, tzaddik, doppleganger, demons, wonder rabbis, the True World, transmigration of souls. Both writers allude to the tales of The Baal Shem Tov, Nachman of Bratslav, Mendele the Bookseller, Sholem Aleichem, the panoply of Yiddish short story writers published in eastern Europe and in The Jewish Daily Forward, as well as Bellow, Malamud, and Ozick. I. B. Singer is perhaps their most recognizable model.
This kind of story allows readers to understand the part-anguished, part-mystical world the Jewish people of the Diaspora lived and breathed in the context of the American world into which they have been, by now, oh so thoroughly assimilated. A hell of a trick, when successful. Sometimes, these stories indeed do prove timeless, and enrich their characters psyches. Leslie Fiedler asked, “Is there a Jewish identity which survives the abandonment of ghetto life and ghetto beliefs, which for so long defined the Jew? Or has the Jew left in Europe, along with the pain and squalor he fled, the possibility of any definition?” It is a brilliantly composed question.  Read More 
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