Saturday, September 19th 2020   |

Gertrude Stein unlisted in White House proclamation

In a tradition begun in the George W. Bush administration, the White House released a proclamation declaring the month of May as “Jewish American Heritage Month.”  As part of the proclamation, several well-known Jewish figures were cited and acknowledged for their various contributions. However, following objections from Jewish scholars and leaders, a revised proclamation was issued on May 3 to exclude the name of Gertrude Stein as a “Jew who brought to bear some of our country’s greatest achievements and forever enrich national life.”   In re-issuing the proclamation, spokesman Matt Leichler acknowledged the Obama administration had received some complaints about using Stein as a positive Jewish role model. Stein, an American expatriate who spent most of her life in France,  has been criticized because of several controversial quotes attributed to her. Among them was a New York Times interview in 1934 that praised Adolph Hitler. Stein, a prominent lesbian whose longtime partner was Alice B. Toklas also, ironically, linked masculinity with genius. Because of this, she has been discounted by feminist leaders in the years following her death in 1946.

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