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Shandler, Jeffrey

Shandler, Jeffrey

PERSONAL:

Education: Swarthmore College, B.A.; Columbia University, M.A., Ph.D.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Rutgers University, SAS—Jewish Studies, 12 College Ave., New Brunswick, NJ 08901. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School for Communication and the Center for Judaic Studies, Philadelphia, former postdoctoral fellow; Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, visiting fellow, 2000-01, associate professor of Jewish studies, 2001—, professor in German department, 2003—. Former visiting scholar, Center for Religion and Media, and former Dorot Teaching Fellow in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, both New York University. Has also taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Tel Aviv University, and Vassar College; has worked as a curator of exhibitions and media programs at the National Jewish Archive of Broadcasting at the Jewish Museum, New York, NY; the YIVO Institute; and the National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, PA.

MEMBER:

American Jewish Historical Society (member of Academic Council), Association for Jewish Studies, PEN.

WRITINGS:

(Translator) Mani Leib, Yingl Tsingl Khvat, illustrated by El (Lazar) Lissitzky, Moyer Bell (Mt. Kisco, NY), 1986.

While America Watches: Televising the Holocaust, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1999.

(Translator) Yankev Glatshteyn, Emil and Karl, Roaring Brook Press (New Milford, CT), 2006.

Adventures in Yiddishland: Postvernacular Language & Culture, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 2006.

EDITOR

The Life and Work of S.M. Dubnov: Diaspora Nationalism and Jewish History, translated by Judith Vowles, introductory essay by Jonathan Frankel, afterword by Victor Erlich, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1991.

(With Beth S. Wenger) Encounters with the "Holy Land": Place, Past and Future in American Jewish Culture, National Museum of American Jewish History: Center for Judaic Studies (Philadelphia, PA), 1997.

(With Dina Abramowicz) Profiles of a Lost World: Memoirs of East European Jewish Life before World War II, translated by Eva Zeitlin Dobkin, introductions by David E. Fishman and Dina Abramowicz, Wayne State University Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

(With Hasia R. Dinerand Beth S. Wenger) Remembering the Lower East Side: American Jewish Reflections, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 2000.

Awakening Lives: Autobiographies of Jewish Youth in Poland before the Holocaust, introduction by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Marcus Moseley, and Michael Stanislawski, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2002.

(With J. Hoberman, and contributor) Entertaining America: Jews, Movies, and Broadcasting, Jewish Museum (New York, NY), 2003.

Curator of exhibitions for books, including, with Jack Kugelmass, Going Home: How American Jews Invent the Old World, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research (New York, NY), 1989; with Jack Kugelmass, Revolutions in Print: Jewish Publishing under the Tsars and the Soviets, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research (New York, NY), 1990; and Sholem Aleichem in America: The Story of a Culture Hero = [Shalom Alekhem in Amerike: di Geshikhte fun a Kulturheld, Yivo Institute for Jewish Research (New York, NY), 1990. Contributor to books, including Spielberg's Holocaust: CriticalPerspectives on "Schindler's List," edited by Yosefa Loshitzky, Indiana University Press, 1997; Visual Culture and the Holocaust, edited by Barbie Zelizer, Rutgers University Press, 2001; with Jonathan Rosen, Lives Remembered: A Shtetl through a Photographer's Eye, edited by Louis D. Levine, Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust (New York, NY), 2002; Mythen der Nationen: Arena der Erinnerungen, edited by Monika Flacke, Deutsches Historisches Museum, 2004; and The Anthology in Jewish Literature, edited by David Stern, Oxford University Press, 2004. Contributor to periodicals and professional journals, including Babylon: Beiträge zur jüdischen Gegenwart, Journal of Narrative and Life History, Public Historian, History & Memory, and Polin: A Journal of Polish-Jewish Studies. Member of editorial board, AJS Perspectives and Prooftexts; international editorial board, Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History; advisory board, Jewish Studies Quarterly.

SIDELIGHTS:

Jeffrey Shandler has written and lectured widely on modern Yiddish culture and American responses to the Holocaust. He has also written about the role that broadcasting, film, photography, and other media play in modern Jewish life. His academic interests include East European Jewish folkways, American Jewish literature and culture, and contemporary Jewish vernacular culture.

While America Watches: Televising the Holocaust examines how American television presented the Holocaust for viewers. Shandler focuses on what he sees as the three stages in the coverage of the Holocaust on American television: the 1950s and creation of the viewer; the emergence of Holocaust news coverage in the 1960s via events such as trials of Nazi war criminals and a television miniseries; and the final two decades of the twentieth century when Holocaust films, documentaries, and references proliferated on television.

"What interests him is not the artistic value or historic accuracy of the programs, but how they reflect changing American perceptions of the event," noted Peter Ephross in a review of While America Watches in the Minneapolis City Pages. For example, the author discusses shows ranging from an episode of the 1950s television show This Is Your Life, in which a holocaust survivor is featured, to the airing of World War II newsreel footage and the trials of Adolf Eichmann. According to Nathan Abrams on the Scope Web site: "Shandler's central thesis is that not only has the Holocaust become a ‘fixture’ … of American culture, but also that television was ‘instrumental’ in putting it there." Abrams continued: "The small scale and private nature of the medium, he argues, has produced an intimacy with the Holocaust that other media cannot provide. Furthermore, unlike other media, television has incorporated the Holocaust into a broadcast flow, as just one scheduling component alongside others, which in some senses normalises it and incorporates it as a part of everyday life."

While America Watches received many favorable reviews. Writing on American Studies Today Online, Tim Cole noted that the "book is useful not only for those interested in the rise of Holocaust consciousness in contemporary America, but also teachers and students of media studies." In another review on the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust Web site, Bill Halvorsen commented that the "book is particularly valuable in giving us some insights about the early ‘representations’ of the Jewish tragedy."

As editor of Awakening Lives: Autobiographies of Jewish Youth in Poland before the Holocaust, Shandler presents the autobiographies of young Polish Jews that they wrote for a competition held in Vilna prior to World War II. The majority of the writers did not survive the Holocaust. "Written before the atrocities of the Holocaust, these life stories often do not reflect anticipation of the impending threat," wrote Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs in Biography. "Instead, shedding light on Jewish identity, they provide detailed accounts of family, friends, and school experience from prewar Poland." In Remembering the Lower East Side: American Jewish Reflections, Shandler and fellow editors Hasia R. Diner and Beth S. Wenger provide essays about one of the most vibrant Jewish neighborhoods in America: New York City's Lower East Side.

Shandler is also the editor, with J. Hoberman, of Entertaining America: Jews, Movies, and Broadcasting. The book was published as part of an exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York and includes contributions from a number of scholars, including Shandler. Cineaste contributor Art Simon felt that the editors and contributors "do a remarkable job of both synthesizing existing scholarship and breaking new ground." Simon went on: "While Hoberman and Shan- dler structure their book chronologically, they do not offer a narrative survey of Jews in the entertainment business. Rather, they build their history around significant events, individuals, and texts."

In its examination of the role of Jews in the American entertainment industry, Entertaining America covers topics such as Hollywood movie moguls, the representation of the Holocaust, the multiple versions of The Jazz Singer, and the success of Jewish comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his television series Seinfeld. Library Journal critic Roy Liebman called the book "a sumptuous read and a visual treat." An M2 Best Books contributor further noted: "The 334-page book seeks to answer the question of how an ethnic minority came to shape, influence and dominate American entertainment. In doing so the two authors offer a broad mix of history, sociology and critical analysis."

Adventures in Yiddishland: Postvernacular Language & Culture is a study of contemporary Yiddish culture, with an emphasis on the post-World War II years. Writing on the Sh'ma Web site, Amelia Glaser reported that the author "calls attention to a new trend, which, far from declaring Yiddish culture dead, has assigned it unexpected meaning." The author examines how certain insular Jewish communities throughout the world continue to use Yiddish, and how Yiddish plays and books and the Yiddish language maintain a strong hold on Jewish folk tradition. Shandler follows the transformation of Yiddish over the six decades following the Holocaust and explores its symbolic value as it is used in communities in America, Europe, Israel, and other places. Observing that "humor is threaded throughout," Shofar contributor Miriam Isaacs concluded: "What is most remarkable is the way that the author is able to remain neutral and non-judgmental, neither mocking, patronizing nor romanticizing."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Jewish History, March, 2000, Douglas Gomery, review of While America Watches: Televising the Holocaust, p. 145; June, 2001, Eli Lederhendler, review of Remembering the Lower East Side: American Jewish Reflections, p. 231; June, 2003, Ari Kelman, review of Entertaining America: Jews, Movies, and Broadcasting, p. 336.

Biography, fall, 2003, Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs, review of Awakening Lives: Autobiographies of Jewish Youth in Poland before the Holocaust, p. 766.

Booklist, November 1, 1998, George Cohen, review of While America Watches, p. 462.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 2006, Loretta Gaffney, review of Emil and Karl, p. 353.

Canadian Literature, winter, 2005, Norman Ravvin, "Records of the Past and Future," review of Awakening Lives, p. 168.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, October, 1999, G.M. Kren, review of Profiles of a Lost World: Memoirs of East European Jewish Life before World War II, p. 387.

Cineaste, fall, 2003, Art Simon, review of Entertaining America, p. 66.

City Pages (Minneapolis, MN), April 14, 1999, Peter Ephross, review of While America Watches.

Columbia Journalism Review, May, 1999, Walter Goodman, review of While America Watches, p. 65.

Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, March, 2000, Thomas Doherty, review of While America Watches, p. 141.

Horn Book, May 1, 2006, Susan P. Bloom, review of Emil and Karl, p. 316.

Journal of American Ethnic History, spring, 2002, Ellen M. Umansky, review of Remembering the Lower East Side, p. 85.

Journal of American History, September, 2002, Hadassa Kosak, review of Remembering the Lower East Side, p. 666.

Journal of American Studies, August, 2002, Jeffrey S. Miller, review of While America Watches, p. 376.

Journal of Urban History, November, 2005, Edward T. O'Donnell, "Lower East Side of Memories: A Jewish Place in America," review of Remembering the Lower East Side, p. 138.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2006, review of Emil and Karl, p. 290.

Library Journal, November 1, 1998, John A. Drobnicki, review of While America Watches, p. 110; June 15, 2003, Roy Liebman, review of Entertaining America, p. 74.

London Review of Books, November 2, 2006, Daniel Heller-Roazen, "Stateless," review of Adventures in Yiddishland: Postvernacular Language & Culture, p. 32.

Los Angeles Times, January 19, 2003, Abraham Brumberg, "Hardship before Horror: Awakening Lives," p. 12.

M2 Best Books, July 31, 2003, review of Entertaining America.

Magpies, November, 2006, Moira Robinson, review of Emil and Karl, p. 40.

New York Times Book Review, April 9, 2006, Alana Wasserstein, "Children's Book," review of Emil and Karl, p. 21.

Publishers Weekly, March 27, 2006, review of Emil and Karl, p. 79.

School Library Journal, June, 2006, Quinby Frank, review of Emil and Karl, p. 156.

Shofar, summer, 2001, Henry L. Feingold, review of While America Watches, p. 157; spring, 2006, Lawrence Baron, "Over the Top Judaism: Precedents and Trends in the Depiction of Jewish Beliefs and Observances in Film and Television," review of Entertaining America, p. 198; winter, 2007, Miriam Isaacs, review of Adventures in Yiddishland, p. 139.

Tikkun, March 1, 2004, Paul Buhle, "Is America Entertaining?," review of Entertaining America, p. 67.

Times Literary Supplement, December 13, 2002, Bernard Wasserstein, "Dreams Denied," review of Awakening Lives, p. 29.

ONLINE

American Studies Today Online,http://www.americansc.org.uk/ (January 11, 2005), Tim Cole, review of While America Watches.

Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust,http://www.codoh.com/ (November 7, 2007), Bill Halvorsen, review of While America Watches.

Fathom,http://www.fathom.com/ (November 7, 2007), brief profile of Jeffrey Shandler.

Foundation of Jewish Culture Web site,http://www2.jewishculture.org/ (November 7, 2007), "Jeffrey Shandler on ‘Allen Sherman's My Son, the Folksinger.’"

Rutgers University, Department of Germanic, Russian and East European Languages and Literatures Web site,http://german.rutgers.edu/ (November 7, 2007), faculty profile of Jeffrey Shandler.

Rutgers University, Department of Jewish Studies Web site,http://jewishstudies.rutgers.edu/ (November 7, 2007), faculty profile of Jeffrey Shandler.

Scope,http://www.scope.nottingham.ac.uk/ (November 7, 2007), Nathan Abrams, review of While America Watches.

Sh'ma,http://www.shma.com/ (November 7, 2007), Amelia Glaser, "Assigning New Meaning to Yiddish Culture," review of Adventures in Yiddishland.

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