From Left to Right, Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History was named a Natan Notable Book and received a National Jewish Book Award through the Jewish Book Council.
Historian Nancy Sinkoff read From That Place and Time: A Memoir, 1938-1947 by Lucy S. Dawidowicz and decided there was much more to tell about this 20th-century author, a Jewish and political public intellectual.
Approval of Sinkoff’s subsequent manuscript came from the Wayne State University Press, which last year published From Left to Right, Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History.
The book was named a Natan Notable Book and received a National Jewish Book Award through the Jewish Book Council.
“The Dawidowicz memoir basically covers her young adulthood,” explained Sinkoff, professor of Jewish studies and history at Rutgers University in New Jersey. “She lived until 1990, but it seems nobody knew that much about her except people interested in the Holocaust.
“Her major achievement was bringing the culture and civilization of the Eastern European Jewish [population] and its merciless destruction to the English-reading public.”
While Sinkoff delves into the Dawidowicz book The War Against the Jews 1933-1945, written in 1975 to tell about the Jewish response in keeping ethnic communal life together in the context of World War II, politics becomes the main focus of the professor’s recent text.
“Dawidowicz was a youthful communist, then patriotic FDR Democrat and ended her life as an independent neo-conservative urging the American Jewish community to vote for Ronald Reagan,” said Sinkoff, who did some of her research and writing during a semester as a fellow at the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan.
Dawidowicz, whose values had her working with the American Jewish Committee and helping displaced persons, is described as a public speaker who expressed a belief that the greatest threat to Jews in her later years was the antisemitism she saw coming out of the Soviet Union and radical anti-Zionism.
“My academic interests have been connected to Eastern European Jewish life,” said Sinkoff, who also has written Out of the Shtetl: Making Jews Modern in the Polish Borderlands. “Lucy S. Dawidowicz was witness to it.
“Wayne State gave me freedom to make the book I wanted. I’ve included an appendix of 31 previously unpublished letters between Dawidowicz and various intellectuals, including Albert Einstein and novelist Allen Hoffman.”