Tuvia is a journalist, dramatist, and the founder of the Jewish Theater of New York. He studied for his doctorate in English literature at St. John's University, earned his MFA in Playwriting at CUNY-Brooklyn, BS in mathematics and computer science at Touro, and finished his rabbinical studies in Jerusalem. He also studied Christianity and Islam in Israel and New York as well as journalism, acting, theater, and finance (at NYU).
In 2003 Germany's most prestigious newspaper Die Zeit named Tuvia Tenenbom and Prof. Harold Bloom “the best minds” in America.
Tuvia was named "founder of a new form of Jewish theater" by the French Le Monde, "founder of The Theater of Catastrophe" by the German Die Zeit, "The New Jew" by the Israeli Maariv, "Free artist who fights for truth and tolerance" by the Belgian Le Vif L'Express, and "One of the most iconoclastic and innovative of contemporary dramatists" by the ItalianCorriere Della Sera. Critic D. J .R. Bruckner. reviewing for the New York Times, described Tuvia's theatrical work "irresistibly fascinating," and Alisa Solomon, writing for the Village Voice, called it "theater of integrity, inquiry and chutzpah."
As a journalist, Tuvia writes essays and op-ed articles for various publications. His articles and essays have been published in leading Western media including Die Zeit of Germany, Corriere della Sera of Italy, Yedioth Ahronoth of Israel, the American Fox News and the Forward.
Tuvia is also a political columnist for Zeit Online and is the sports columnist of the 3.5-year running "Fett wie ein Turnschuh."
Norm: Good day Tuvia and thanks for participating in our interview.
I believe you were born in Israel to ultra-orthodox parents. Why did you leave Israel when you were very young and move to the USA?
Tuvia: I wanted to go to college but for my parents, ultra-ultra Orthodox Jews, to go to university was the most shameful thing to do. So I left to the USA.
Norm: How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?
Tuvia: I started as a kid, for
no obvious reason.
Habits die hard...
Norm: What has been the best part about being published?
Tuvia: Fulfillment of a childhood dream: being an author.
Norm: Do you worry about the human race?
Tuvia: Give me a break!
Norm: What motivated you to write your latest work, Catch the Jew!? How did you decide on its title and what does it mean?
Tuvia: The book was the idea
of my German editor; they paid me well enough not to say No.
The realization that at its core the so-called peace people, at least in that part of the world, are motivated by one single instinct: Catch the Jew!
Norm: Why did you name your chapters “gates” in your book? As a follow up, was the writing of the book improvisational or did you have a set plan?
didn't seem fit, just so....
No and no. I just followed hints on the road.
Norm: What purpose do you believe your book serves and what matters to you about the it?
Tuvia: I'm not an activist, of any kind or sort. My job is to report what I see, as objective as humanly possible. That's all.
Norm: Do you believe that Arabs in general are masters at propaganda and they know how to put a great spin on to fictional tales. If so, why does the media in many instances swallow these fantasy tales?
Tuvia: I wouldn't say "propaganda," which is more of a western idea. The better word is "story telling." It's part of their culture to build castles in the air....
Because many journalists want to swallow tales, as it fits their own anti-Semitic ideologies.
Norm: How were you able to pull yourself off as a German journalist when interviewing various individuals in Catch the Jew!? Were there any times when you believed your cover was blown?
Tuvia: I love Arabic culture, and as a student of it I occasionally succeed in fooling my masters...
Norm: Were there any parts of your book that you embellished in order to make it more readable and interesting?
Tuvia: Why would I even try when the reality I've encountered was far more interesting than anything I could come up with on my own?
Norm: Did you ever get the feeling when interviewing some of the Israelis and Palestinians that they could have been characters out of The Wise Men of Chelm as depicted in the literature of Y.L. Peretz or Isaac Bashevis Singer with their “bubba misehs” (Old wives tales) they were spinning?
Tuvia: Nope. The characters I encountered are far superior to any work of fiction. (See earlier response...)
Norm: You write about the “self-hating” Jew in Catch the Jew!. Could you describe who these individuals are and why do you believe that they are self-hating?
Tuvia: Norm: I wrote about that in the book. Could you copy it from there...? (I'm sitting at an Aspen cafe and don't want to ruin my breakfast thinking of them...)
Norm: You also write about NGO's (Non-government organizations) in Israel. What are they doing in Israel and why, according to what I have read from your book, that they seem to have some kind of an agenda in trying to unstable the State of Israel? As a follow up, why have we not heard more about these NGO's in the media?
Tuvia: Read my reply before about the media/journalists....
Norm: How has been the reaction from Jews and Arabs to Catch the Jew!?As a follow up, how do you explain that Catch the Jew! is a #1 best-seller in Israel?
Tuvia: You answered your first question with the second question... As for the Arabs: I think I'll know better when the book is published in Arabic, if it ever will...
Norm: If you were chosen as a negotiator between Israelis and Palestinians to make peace, what would be your five most important priorities?
Tuvia: Resign my position as soon as I have something better to do in life.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about your and your work?
Norm: What is next for Tuvia Tenebom?
Tuvia: A book about the character and soul of America.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Tuvia: "How did you get to be so handsome?"