Did you know that Israel is not the only Jewish state in the world? Deep in the territory of the Russian Federation, close to the Chinese border is the other Jewish state: Birobidzhan.
Mina Yuditskaya Berliner, a retired teacher of German, could be forgiven for feeling surprised when one of her former students invited her for tea after almost half a century. Berliner, now 94, hadn’t seen him since she made aliyah to Israel from the USSR in 1973. But in 2005, the former student came to Israel to visit—an official visit, no less, the first ever made by a Soviet or Russian leader.
The title, Little Failure, is of course ironic. By now, after Gary Shteyngart’s three best-selling comic novels, many travel articles and dozens of interviews—in which he rarely gives a straight answer—his Russian Jewish immigrant parents must have forgiven him for not becoming the lawyer or accountant they envisioned. Or have they?
Richard Bernstein reviews two new works on anti-Semitism by Edmund Levin and Daniel Jonah Goldhagen.