Nobel Prize to Two with Jewish Roots

This year’s Nobel Prizes have so far been awarded to two men with Jewish roots: U.S. economist Robert Solow and Soviet-born American poet Joseph Brodsky.

Solow, a 63-year-old professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, won the Nobel Prize in Economics Wednesday for what the five-member selection committee described as a development of a mathematical model that long-term growth depends on technological progress, not only on capital and labor.

According to Prof. Assar Lindbeck of the University of Stockholm, a member of the selection committee, Solow’s studies, dating back to 1956 and 1957, pioneered the theory that “technology meant much more for the growth rate than increases in labor and capital.” These results induced governments to “push higher education and technological research.”

His emphasis remains on the increase of knowledge in improved technology and human skills.

Solow is the 16th American to win or share the economics prize, which this year totals $330,000, since it was first given 18 years ago.

Born in New York in 1924, Solow refers to himself as an “old-fashioned Jewish boy from Brooklyn.” Although his Jewish past consists of more cultural ties than religious, according to his wife, Barbara, she said “his Jewish background has given him values and standards that he adheres to.” Solow is also a financial supporter of the Peace Now movement in Israel.

Brodsky, 47, won the Nobel Literature Prize Thursday. He said he hoped the prize would expand knowledge and exposure to Russian poetry and help the liberalization process in the Soviet Union.

Brodsky was born in Leningrad to a Jewish family, but there is no indication that he now lives Jewishly. He dropped out of school at age 15 and became a manual laborer, writing poetry in his spare time. But his poems upset the authorities and in 1964 he was convicted of “social parasitism” and sentenced to five years’ hard labor in an Arctic labor camp.

His strife in the labor camp sparked international interest in his poems and an international protest that led to his early release after serving 18 months. In 1972, he was deported from the Soviet Union.

Literary connoisseurs said he was latest in a line of great Russian independent-thinking, modernist poets. Brodsky is the first Russian-language writer to win the prize since Alexander Solzhenitsyn in 1970. The Academy said that “for Brodsky, poetry is a divine gift.”

His first volume of poetry in English translation was published in 1973 and the second, “A Part of Speech,” appeared in 1980. Brodsky’s volume of essays, “Less Than One,” won the U.S. National Book Critics Award for criticism last year.

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