The Arty Semite

Bloomsday Celebrations Worldwide

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share

June 16th is Bloomsday, the day on which all the activities of Leopold Bloom, protagonist of James Joyce’s novel “Ulysses,” occur.

Bloom, as Joyce fanatics will tell you, is the son of Rudolf Virág, a Hungarian Jew from Szombathely who changed his name to Rudolph Bloom upon immigrating to Ireland. Joyce based his portrait in part on Aron Ettore Schmitz, an Italian Jewish friend who wrote masterfully under the name of Italo Svevo. Though assimilated, Leopold Bloom is arguably the most famous Jewish character in modern European literature.

Celebrating Bloomsday means celebrating Bloom, and at New York’s Symphony Space, actors such as Jonathan Hadary and Tony Roberts will help commemorate the occasion. Radio Bloomsday on WBAI will reach others, while Bloomsday in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum & Library, and Seattle’s Other Bloomsday are proposing similarly enticing events.

In Ireland and Hungary Bloomsday has naturally become a tourist institution, but the most exotic and exuberant festivities may be in Santa Maria, Brazil, where Bloomsday is advertised as “literally, a party!” and the Joycean formula “Here Comes Everybody” — which is from “Finnegans Wake,” not “Ulysses”— is used with sincerity.

Anyone shying away from Carnival-like goings-on may wish to curl up with one of the excellent studies available on James Joyce and Judaism, like Cormac Ó Gráda’s 2006 “Jewish Ireland in the Age of Joyce: a Socioeconomic History” from Princeton University Press; Neil Davison’s 1996 “James Joyce, Ulysses, and the Construction of Jewish Identity” from Cambridge University Press; and Marilyn Reizbaum’s 1999 “James Joyce’s Judaic Other” from Stanford University Press.

In 1985, “Ulysses” was published by Hotsaat Mahbarot Le-Sifrut in Tel Aviv in a Hebrew translation by Yael Renan of the Department of Hebrew Literature, Tel Aviv University; Professor Renan is also a noted translator into Hebrew of Joyce’s friend Samuel Beckett.

Readers awaiting a Yiddish translation of “Ulysses” may have a long wait, although one blogger recently posted a few tentative paragraphs online to get the ball rolling: “Nayn, hot Mr. Bloom gezogt, ich bin yezt tsurik gekumen of a lavaya.” (“No, Mr. Bloom said. I have just come from a funeral”). It’s party time!


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Ulysses, Bloomsday, James Joyce

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.