Over her many years of political and cultural analysis in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, and Mosaic, and in her books If I am Not for Myself and Jews and Power, Ruth Wisse has been a north star for Jewish conservatives. What were the formative intellectual influences that shaped her worldview? What does she recommend that can shape our own? At last year’s conference, Professor Wisse drew lessons for Jewish conservatives from the literature of Isaac Babel, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and S.Y Agnon. This year, she focuses on Jacob Glatstein. As the dangers escalated for Jews across Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, some Jews who had emigrated from there to this country realized that American freedoms threatened—not their personal, but their collective—survival. Without yielding their individuality, how could they sustain the golden chain of Jewish continuity? Was it necessary to choose between the kerosene lamp and the neon lights, between the God of Abraham and faith in progress? In raising such questions, one of the keenest of those immigrants, Jacob Glatstein, charted his own brilliant path to a set of insights that can even today serve to revitalize Jewish conservatism in America.

Ruth Wisse

Professor Ruth R. Wisse is the Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and Comparative Literature Emerita at Harvard and distinguished senior fellow at Tikvah. She is a winner of the National Jewish Book Award and was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush. Professor Wisse’s books include The Modern Jewish Canon: A Journey through Literature and Culture, Jews and Power, and No Joke: Making Jewish Humor. Her memoir, Free as a Jew: A Personal Memoir of National Self- Liberation was published last year. She is the editor or co-editor of numerous anthologies, including The I.L. Peretz Reader and The Best of Sholem Aleichem (with Irving Howe). Her essays on Jewish literature, culture, and politics have been published in Mosaic, the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, and the Jewish Review of Books.