Back in 1983, while working for the Center for Southern Folklore in Memphis, Tennessee, author
Steve Stern began researching the city’s vanished Jewish ghetto called the Pinch. A reform Jew
with little knowledge (or even interest) in his heritage, Stern was unprepared for the seismic shock
of discovery. His encounter with the historical Pinch unearthed a mother lode of culture and
tradition that was, to his mind, a little like the magical energies King David released when he tried
to move the Foundation Stone into the Holy of Holies. In this talk, Stern will attempt to describe the
consequences of the collision of an ancient Jewish folk consciousness with the contemporary
world, and how those consequences may inform our understanding of the modern Jewish
Steve Stern is the author of several novels and story collections, including The Frozen Rabbi, Lazar
Malkin Enters Heaven, and The Wedding Jester, which won the National Jewish Book Award. He’s
been the recipient of grants from the Fulbright and Guggenheim foundations, and is a writer-inresidence
at Skidmore College. His most recent book is the novel The Pinch (Graywolf, 2015).
Co-sponsored by the Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture.