Jules Chametzky obituary (1928-2021) – Amherst, MA



Jules Chametzky

Amherst, MA – Jules Chametzky, a Jewish boy from Brooklyn who moved to his background in multi-ethnic New York of the 20th, where he moved in 1958. He was 93 years old.

As an expert on American-Jewish and ethnic literatures, Dr. Chametzky’s books Out of Brownsville (2012), From the Ghetto: The Fiction of Abraham Cahan (1977), Our Decentralized Literature (1986), and Jewish-American Literature: A Norton Anthology (2001); In 1995 he received the MELUS (Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States) Award for Distinguished Contribution to Ethnic Studies. As the founder and longtime editor of the Massachusetts Review, Dr. Chametzky at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst (UMass) from 1958 and at universities in Zagreb, Venice, Berlin, Copenhagen, Freiburg and Tübingen. In 2010, the Massachusetts Review launched an annual Jules Chametzky Translation Prize, awarded to a translation published in the magazine, to honor both Dr. Appreciate Chametzky’s role in the Massachusetts Review as well as his contributions to promoting intercultural understanding. In 1969 he and his UMass colleague Sidney Kaplan published Black & White in American Culture, an anthology of essays and stories from the first decade of the Massachusetts Review, which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The critic Julius Lester wrote of this book in the New York Times, “… this collection is more than a documentary. It is an exciting book that is more relevant to America on the eve of a second civil war than almost any book of its kind . ” Retired Harvard professor Werner Sollors wrote in an email:[Jules] not only gave me a research agenda for decades, but also a model for a committed, somewhat egalitarian, sometimes timid style of teaching and speaking, which in reality led the students resolutely to a responsible science for which his own work was a model. ”

Lee R. Edwards, former dean of UMass’s College of Humanities and Fine Arts, said, “Jules Chametzky, through his personal scholarship, teaching, and mentoring; institution building with the Massachusetts Review, University Press, and the Massachusetts Society of, among others Prof. where he arrived at today’s vibrant, thriving, and mature campus, which all Commonwealth citizens can rightly be proud of, truly feel, part of, and wholeheartedly belong to. We are all indebted to him. ”He won the University’s Metawampe Award in 1969 and the Vincent Gaston Dethier Award in 1994 drawn.

In addition, Dr. Chametzky founder (along with others George Plimpton, William Phillips and Reed Whittemore) and officer of the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines CCLM). He remembered one of the first meetings of the CCLM when, upon entering the room, he saw several dozen other editors already seated at the big table. “One of you,” he said while looking around the table, “will betray me.”

In an email, John P. (Jack) Polidori of the Massachusetts Teachers Association said about Dr. Chametzky: “It was a union to the core. Without Jules, there would be no faculty librarian union at UMass. he provided the essential leadership that helped secure the first contract and fend off anti-union forces. ”

Jules Chametzky was born on May 24, 1928, the son of Beny and Anna (Zweig) Chametzky, Yiddish-speaking immigrants from Russia and Poland from the working class. His older brother Leslie fought in both North Africa and Sicily campaigns during World War II and was captured by the Germans. Jules Chametzky graduated from Brooklyn Tech High School and Brooklyn College in 1950. Dr. Chametzky received his PhD in English from the University of Minnesota, received his PhD in 1958 with a dissertation on Elizabethan drama, and studied with renowned American studies such as Henry Nash Smith and Leo Marx.

Even as a student, Jules Chametzky lived in the Minnesota freezer not just from sitting and studying. There he joined the NAACP in 1950, headed the committee of the organization for fair employment practices and was “intensely involved in Minnesota’s passage of the first American Fair Practices Employment Act”, as he put it in an interview with the scientist Susanne Klingenstein in 1988. Chametzky in her 1998 book Enlarging America: The Cultural Work of Jewish Literary Scholars, 1930-1990. Because of his political activities, he was “named as a subversive element” by a witness before the US Department of Justice’s Control Committee on Subversive Activities in 1954. An investigation by the University of Minnesota has invalidated the allegations. In Minnesota, he also met another dedicated Brooklyn expat and longtime Amherst resident who had taught at the University of Minnesota: the filmmaker and photographer Jerome Liebling. And above all, in one of Henry Nash Smith’s seminars, he met a fellow student, the German-born Nazi refugee feminist, poet, editor, translator and teacher Anne Halley. Their true minds marriage lasted from 1953 to Halley’s death in 2004. Their Amherst home has become a social hub and meeting place for local writers, artists, intellectuals and social activists, according to an email from retired UMass Laboratory historian Bruce Laurie as well as international students and luminaries such as James Baldwin, Chinua Achebe and many others. ”

Generations of students testified not only to Dr. Chametzky’s intellectual depth and breadth and firm but friendly advice, but also his limitless humanity and decency. As Professor Sollors wrote in his email: “For me, the man who became my doctoral supervisor is” [dissertation advisor] was like a father too. When I met him and [Anne Halley] Half a century ago in Berlin they quickly became like family in my eyes, generous, curious and certainly much wiser than me. . . . [they] gave me a sense of America as an extension and continuation of the democratic possibilities that Hitler and Stalin had so successfully wiped out in divided Germany. “Studies said that” Jules embodied what it means to be human. ”

Dr. Chametzky leaves behind his children: Matthew (Cynthia Welsh) of Hamilton, NJ; Robert (Julie Hastings) of Iowa City, IA; and Peter (Susan Felleman) of Columbia, SC; Grandson: Marcus Chametzky; Max, Aaron and Samuel Fennell-Chametzky and Henry Hastings; Benjamin Ginzky (Kirsten Ginzky) and Hallie Chametzky and for thirteen years his loving partner, the psychotherapist, teacher and author Joann Kobin from Northampton, MA, whose house he shared for the last three years of his life. In her words, “The relationship came late in our lives after long and strong marriages. It was a great gift that brought him – and us – unexpected happiness and joy.” In addition to his parents, his brother and his wife, he had previously died from his nephew Steven Chametzky and his stepchild Maxfield Hastings.

In all of his actions, interactions, and transactions in the United States and Europe, it never occurred to Jules Chametzky that his person and origins were anything other than an asset to his work. A colleague from the Eberhard Karl University of Tübingen (founded in 1477) would suggest with some awe and no small admiration that Jules Chametzky was probably her “first” non-authoritarian professor in the 500-year history of the school.

His family and friends thank the hospice staff at Fisher Home for the bond of care, concern, and respect they have built with Jules over the past few months. At his request, he left a “green” Jewish grave next to Anne Halley and Jerome

Darling in Wildwood Cemetery, Amherst on September 27, 2021. Rabbi Justin David of Northampton officiated. A memorial service will be held at the University of Massachusetts on a date to be determined.

Published by Daily Hampshire Gazette on October 1, 2021.



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