Letters to the Editor, Aug. 27, 2020

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Review Has Errors
I find myself in an unfortunate position writing this letter. I’m the author of The Interpreter, reviewed recently by Jesse Bernstein in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. I’m not sure what book Bernstein read. There are glaring errors in his review.

Bernstein questions the name of my protagonist as a convenient trope. And I quote: “Berlin is a bit of a silly name, seemingly chosen in order for Berlin’s commanding officers to be able to refer to him geographically, in the manner in which decades of media about World War II have conditioned us to expect (Tex, Brooklyn, etc.).” Clearly, Bernstein did not read the Foreword and Acknowledgments. I did not pick the character’s name out of a hat for convenience. The actual person on whom the story is based was named Kurt Berlin. It was not chosen as a “trope,” but rather to honor this survivor’s experiences.

Bernstein dotes on the use, or in his estimation, misuse of the term Interpreter. And I quote: “Interpretation is generally considered to be the act of translating the spoken word as it occurs, while translating is confined to writing. And yet, Berlin, who does the latter, finds himself in an occupation that names him as the former. He checks that the German of the interrogated has been correctly translated into English.”


Bernstein clearly did not read the book. While the protagonist does review a transcript in one scene, throughout chapters 5, 7, 9, 13, and 25, he interprets interrogations in real-time, exactly as Bernstein defines interpretation, “the act of translating the spoken word as it occurs.”
Overall, I found Bernstein’s review amateurish and lacking insight. Perhaps he should read a book closely before reviewing it, rather than rendering uninformed opinions.

AJ Sidransky | New York City

Dialogue Stands Test of Time
I applaud the faith that Rabbi Noam E. Marans has in talking to Nick Cannon about his anti-Semitism (“What I Learned From Talking to Nick Cannon About Anti-Semitism,” Aug. 20).

It reminds me of when I served in the American Armed Services during World War II. After the war was over, I was stationed in a small German town in northern Germany. Billeted with a local German family, I became friendly with Sigfried, a pilot in the Lutwaffe, and his wife Else, a lawyer who was trained to become a leader of a certain part of England when Germany won the war. Both were against Jews and thought they ruled the press and financial areas of the world. They claimed they did not know of the concentration camps and the killings of up to six million Jews.

For three months almost every night we discussed the Jewish problem they had. It seemed that they understood how they were hoodwinked and they would change their views about Jewish people. This was from a German pilot who claimed he never fired on planes or people from the American and British forces — only Russian.

In closing, I hope that Marans has the success that I had and he seems to think he is having. It is always nice that we are able to turn anti-Semitic people to get rid of their obscene thoughts about Jews.

Mike Cooper | Philadelphia

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