Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



With Poet’s Pen

Yonoson Rosenblum

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Bret Stephens talks with Mishpacha about the seminal influences on his life, his wunderkind appointment as editor in chief of the Jerusalem Post at 28, the art and craft of punditry, Donald Trump and the conservative crack-up, the future of Israel’s relationships with America, and his book, America in Retreat.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

“By the way, are you Jewish?” That was almost the first question Jerusalem Post publisherTomRose posed toBretStephens when first speaking to him about becoming editor in chief just after 9/11. It is a question often posed to the 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary, though probably more often behind his back. The nameBret (after American short story writerBretHarte)Stephens (a cultural appropriation byBret’s grandfather — neeEhrlich — from Irish poetJamesStephens) contains no hints. Nor are there any physiognomic eccentricities suggesting Jewish heritage. His speech is more upper-crust precise than rapid-fire. But,Bret assures me, as we sit talking in theChaba Café on Jerusalem’s Jaffa Road on a drizzly February day, his background is Jewish all the way back. In fact, his maternal great-grandfather was the great-nephew of Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, the leader of pre-World War II Torah Jewry. That great-grandfather was a Menshevik, and after the Bolshevik victory in the Russian Revolution, he was taken away by the dreaded Cheka secret police and never seen again. Bret’s maternal great-grandmother Chesse then embarked on a journey that would take her and her three daughters, including his grandmother Nina, first to Berlin and then to Italy, where Bret’s mother Xenia was born.Bret grew up in Mexico City. “My parents were completely secular, but fiercely Zionist,” he relates. His mother first captured his father’s attention when he heard her tell someone at a dinner party that if she had $500 million she would buy Phantoms for Israel. 

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"