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for Jules

- By Jim Hicks

On Thursday, September 23, the founding editor of the Massachusetts Review, Jules Chametzky, died in Amherst, at the age of ninety-three. To commemorate his passing, and to offer his friends an opportunity for reflection and remembrance, we offer here a small gathering of memories, collected from a few of his friends.

I myself only really got to know Jules during the dozen years I’ve been working at the Mass Review, yet it is important to acknowledge just how formative he remained, and will remain, in the direction this magazine has taken. Early on, without any real training or experience in publishing, I desperately needed schooling,...


Our Rabbi

- By Lee Edwards

Jules was my rabbi, and I think he was the rabbi for many of those who came to his service at Wildwood Cemetery on September 27. He was our rabbi in the spiritual sense, in the police procedural, and in the parental sense. He looked after us. He counseled us. He shared his wisdom. He opened doors, and he watched our backs. He frowned upon our enemies.

He appeared to know or to have known everyone of any significance on the planet – James Baldwin, Chinua Achebe, Saul Bellow, Alfred Kazin, Leonard Baskin. He met Gregory Peck in the old House of Walsh; he recognized his voice and, of course, introduced himself. He thought that Gregory Peck was more than handsome enough to have been a movie star. He knew the Normans – Birnbaum, Podhoretz, Mailer. He liked to share his...


Remembering Jules

- By Bruce Laurie

(Jules Chametzky. Photo by Jerome Liebling, courtesy of Rachel Liebling)

Jules and I were colleagues before we were friends. We met in 1973 when we joined about a dozen faculty, aggrieved by budget cuts and administrative incompetence more broadly, on an organizing committee aiming to unionize faculty and librarians on the UMass Amherst campus, which evolved into the Massachusetts Society of Professors (MSP). I got to know his academic work a year later when UMass Press asked me to review the manuscript of his biography of the Jewish radical writer and journalist, Abraham Cahan. We shared an occasional drink and then drew closer together as our union commitment deepened. I helped convince him to become the union’s third president (1979-1980), serving as his vice president...


Broadening the Canon

- By Werner Sollors

(A Chametzky family photograph, Brooklyn, NY, 1942. Jules Chametzky, fourteen years old, is standing in the back row, second from the right, next to his father and behind his mother.)

From “Broadening the Canon, or Talmudic Faulknerism: Reading Chametzky, Knowing Jules” (MR 44 1/2, 2003).

When we met in Berlin he adopted me as a student and ultimately became my Doktorvater. He invited me to team-teach the course "Broadening the Canon," my own first introduction to a broader overview of American ethnic literature. (By the way, he had limitless patience with the students, whether they were superrevolutionary, linguis­tically challenged, or both.) He would always be commenting on something he "happened to be reading" at the moment...


For Jules, in Appreciation

- By Esther Terry

(Jules Chametzky. Photo by Jerome Liebling, courtesy of Rachel Liebling)

By the second half of the twentieth century, apartheid was so deeply embedded in the national culture that the divide between black and white, codified in law, was fully embraced by institutions from pulpit to prison—and nowhere more so than in colleges and universities where, whether in fear of the consequences of crossing that American Rubicon or in sympathy with its tenets, white academicians (in all but a handful of exceptions) remained silent in the face of what W.E.B. Du Bois had said would be the problem of the twentieth century. Indeed, at that time, so few had acted in defiance of the prevailing ethos of silence and seeming accommodation that when, in 1959, from Amherst, Massachusetts, the...

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