Presentation, “Jewish Travel Writing in the 1930s”

06.28.22

2:00-3:15 EDT

Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, PA

The New York Public Library’s extensive collection of travel books offers a perspective on what travel meant to Jews in the increasingly hostile world of the 1930s. The view from ca. 1930 sets the stage: travel accounts of the United States published in London, Riga, and elsewhere speak to curiosity about America. Descriptions of the Soviet Union underline the attractiveness of the Communist experiment and ignorance of policies Stalin had set in motion.  Confidence about a wider world of possibilities is evident in accounts of Europe, the Middle East, and Palestine. Underlying anxieties are discernible, too. This presentation explores the scope of Jewish travel writing during a most challenging decade, and analyzes its audiences and goals.