Recall the description in Alfred Kazin's New York Jew of his meeting Hannah Arendt, depicted by the characteristically lyrical Kazin in terms both sensual and intellectually obsequious. What he finds in her, as he sees it, is a true European, an authentic intellectual grounded in substantive things of the mind who mastered Augustine in the original, while he in his adolescence picked through translations in Brownsville's soda shops: Told in many different ways, the contrast between a culturally vacuous, at least impaired, American Jewry and its European antecedents is much a part of the modern Jewish historical imagination. Kazin's awe at Arendt's gravitas is, in this respect, a piece of a much larger story. It is a story made of stark, sometimes undeniably accurate, but also not infrequently absurdly exaggerated juxtapositions of old and new, holy and profane, hoary and, simply, silly. The cultural chasm separating European Jewish culture from that of America is summed up in the minds of many, it would seem, as the difference between Vilna's Shulhof and Rodeo Drive.