The Arty Semite

The Genesis of 'The Jewish Furrier'

By Cliff Graubart

Earlier, Cliff Graubart wrote about higher education and his father and Pat Conroy. His blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


Carol Conroy was browsing the poetry section when my parents Sigmund and Frances walked in. They were visiting with me in Atlanta as they did every year on their way from Israel to the States. I introduced Carol to my folks and they sat in the coffee room of The Old New York Book Shop for a few minutes getting to know each other.

Now, I always joked with Pat Conroy, my friend and Carol’s brother, about how much smarter Carol was than he. But when Carol came to the store a week later and dropped five poems on my desk, I had proof after reading the first poem, called “The Jewish Furrier Tells How to Write Poetry.”

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Higher Education: A Revelation

By Cliff Graubart

Earlier this week, Cliff Graubart wrote about his father and Pat Conroy. His blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


I know Jewish doctors and lawyers who are sending their children to state universities and tell me they are “great” schools. I remember the same gentlemen telling me that the public high school their children went to was also “great.” I had a tough time buying this argument and was able to confirm my beliefs when my own daughter decided, after her schooling at a Jewish day school since kindergarten, she wanted a public school experience. My wife and I acquiesced and our daughter entered with enthusiasm and, being the very bright girl she is, soon insisted that she needed a nose piercing. “I need an edge,” she insisted, and we understood. She was in a tough environment and read the signs accurately. Then I thought of the three Jewish lawyers who had or in the past had their kids at the school and said it was “great.” Finally I figured it out. It wasn’t great. It was free.

My daughter wanted this experience because the high school was a magnet school and offered a good dance program. It wasn’t, and she soon outgrew the program, spending her hours after school seeking more professional training at the ballet studio she had recently joined.

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From Stanislawow to Beach Music

By Cliff Graubart

Cliff Graubart is the author of “The Curious Vision Of Sammy Levitt and Other Stories” (Mercer University Press, 2012). His blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


My parents left the United States in 1973 to retire in Bat Yam, Israel, the country in which they met and married in 1934, and where my brother Norman was born. My father left Poland in 1925 and went to work for his brothers in Paris and then left to compete in the first Maccabiah games in the breast stroke only to learn that there was no swimming pool. (I learned later that there was indeed a swimming event, so I can only assume that my dad may have not made the cut and may have been too embarrassed.) My mother left her home Bulgaria as a young woman on a group visa and settled in Jerusalem, where she met my father in the fur shop where they both were employed.

One day while browsing in a used bookshop in Tel Aviv after his retirement to Israel, he came upon a book titled “During the Russian Administration with the Jews of Stanislawow During the Holocaust” by Abraham Liebesman. My father, Sigmund Graubart, no trained scholar, was always interested in history. And he had a keen interest in Stanislawow, Poland (today Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine), the city of his birth, because his older sister and her family were killed there. After determining there was only this edition, which was in Hebrew, my father began translating the book into English.

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