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Oliver Pollak

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Oliver B. Pollak is a freelance writer in Richmond. He may be contacted via oliver.pollak@sdjewishworld.com

Pandemic Postcard Messages, 1918-1920

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A substantial portion of the following story appeared in “Messages by Regular Folk on 1918 Pandemic” online in Postcard History on August 22, 2021. That publication’s editor gave permission to reprint it in the cause “that...

Growth of Jewish Communities Promoted in the Early 20th Century

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The headline in the adjoining news clipping is hype. “May” is not “will” or “shall.” Booster describes real estate developers, hucksters and visionaries who wanted to profit from growing communities and increases in real...
Benzion Netanyahu, his wife, Tzila, and two of his sons, Jonathan and Benjamin, left

A Jewish Academia Novel Set in 1960 Still Resonates

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I started reading academia novels in the 1960s with Edward Albee’s tempestuous boozy Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, then the jocular Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, a hoot, a romp, filled with  junior faculty insecurities. My radar sought...

Historiography of ‘Atlantic Crossing’

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A friend recommended the eight-part PBS Masterpiece series Atlantic Crossing written and directed by Norwegian film maker Alexander Eik. The series favors our human attraction to the cult of monarchy, divine right power, and personal flamboyance that...

Scholars Detail Growth of American Jewish History

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Conversations with Colleagues, On Becoming An American Jewish Historian, edited by Jeffrey S. Gurock (Brighton, MA: Academic Studies Press, 2018) 270 pages. Conversations Between Colleagues has a personal, useful and informative festschrift flavor that honors the profession of American...
Tristan Surtel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jewish Historians of England

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Twenty Years On, Views and Reviews of Modern Britain by Peter Stansky; Pinehill Humanities Press, 2020. Peter Stansky born in Manhattan, graduated from Yale, Harvard, and King’s College, Cambridge where he earned his doctorate studying...
Photo opportunity outside of the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, ID. 130 Northwest Main St; Blackfoot, ID 83221

There are museums for so many interests

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Fantasize. Plan an imaginary trip. Breakout mentally from pandemic limitations The world is awash with museums. It demonstrates the human need to remember and pass on artifacts of the heights and depths of civilization. The Reader’s...

Downsizing generations of family photos

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I owned a Kodak Brownie, 16 mm Minox, Petri, Minolta, film in a box, Cannon and a Polaroid. Karen had an Olympus and a Fuji. Between us we have owned three Cannons. Fabled German...

Following up a 101-year-old tragedy

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The 1918-1919 “flu” epidemic took between 2,800 and 7,500 Nebraska lives, 974 of them in Omaha. On July 4, 1919, the weekly Omaha Jewish Bulletin published “Breaking Lives and Homes for Profit.” It read: Fanny Skulke came with...
Plague of the Frogs - G.N.Petrov (ru:Г.Н.Петров) / Public domain

Books, Internet tell of plagues through history

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I am sheltering in place. The health departments of the six Bay Area Counties have ordered stringent social distancing to protect all of us, seniors included. I’m more than a bit of a nut...