Eddy Portnoy: Bad Rabbi & Other Strange but True Stories from the Yiddish Press

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Venue:Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU

Eddy Portnoy's book has been described at one part Isaac Bashevis Singer, one part Jerry Springer. In his talk, this irreverent, unvarnished, and frequently hilarious author will share some of the stories that provide a window into an unknown Yiddish world that was.

Bad Rabbi has been described as a paean to the bunglers, the blockheads, and the just plain weird—Jews who were flung from small, impoverished eastern European towns into the urban shtetls of New York and Warsaw, where, as they say in Yiddish, their bread landed butter side down in the dirt. These marginal Jews may have found their way into the history books far less frequently than their more socially upstanding neighbors, but there's one place you can find them in force: in the Yiddish newspapers that had their heyday from the 1880s to the 1930s. Disaster, misery, and misfortune: you will find no better chronicle of the daily ignominies of urban Jewish life than in the pages of the Yiddish press.

Portnoy’s underground history of downwardly mobile Jews, Bad Rabbi exposes the seamy underbelly of pre-WWII New York and Warsaw, the two major centers of Yiddish culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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