Roskies, David G.

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ROSKIES, DAVID G. (1948– ), author, editor, and scholar of Jewish studies. Born in Montreal, Canada, he attended Yiddish secular schools. He was educated at Brandeis University, receiving his bachelor's degree in 1969, his master's degree in 1971, and his doctorate in 1975. He joined the faculty of the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1975, as associate professor; he became the Sol and Evelyn Henkind Chair in Yiddish Literature and Culture and professor of Jewish Literature. An expert in the field of Eastern European Jewry, Roskies wrote and lectured extensively on the subject.

In 1971 Roskies received critical attention for his Night Words: A Midrash on the Holocaust, one of the first liturgies on the Holocaust. The work has been translated into Hebrew and has been issued as an audio cassette. In 1975 he coauthored, with Diane Roskies, The Shtetl Book: An Introduction to East European Jewish Life and Lore, which became a standard text.

His 1984 work, Against the Apocalypse: Responses to Catastrophe in Modern Jewish Culture, won the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize from Phi Beta Kappa. In this work Roskies traces the evolution of Jewish literature from a passive acceptance of suffering to a stance of advocacy and a refusal to surrender. Awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 1985, he began a study of the modern Jewish return to folklore and fantasy; he edited The Dybbuk and Other Writings by S. Ansky in 1992, and authored A Bridge of Longing: The Lost Art of Yiddish Storytelling in 1995. Roskies's 1999 work, The Jewish Search for a Usable Past, considers the modern Jewish community's self-image in relationship to the roles and values found in Jewish literature. Examining the promotion of modern goals, such as nationalism and secularism, by Jewish writers, he contends that contemporary Jewish memory has been shaped by literary convention rather than fact.

In 1981 Roskies cofounded, with Alan Mintz, Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History, published by the University of Indiana Press. From 1998 he served as editor-in-chief of the New Yiddish Library, published by Yale University Press. He also served as a member of the editorial board of the Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, and he was a member of the Association for Jewish Studies.

[Dorothy Bauhoff (2nd ed.)]