Jews at Home

BookJews at Home

Jews at Home

The Domestication of Identity

Jewish Cultural Studies, 2

2010

May 27th, 2010

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For a Jew, describing a place as 'home' conveys connotations of heritage as well as of residence. Additionally, feeling 'at home' suggests a sense of comfort in one's social surroundings. The questions at the heart of this volume are: what things make a home 'Jewish', materially and emotionally, and what is it that makes Jews feel 'at home' in their environment? The material dimensions are explored through a study of the symbolic and ritual objects that convey Jewishness and a consideration of other items that may be used to express Jewish identity in the home-something that the introduction identifies as 'living-room Judaism'. The discussion is geographically and ethnically wide-ranging, and the transformation of meaning attached to different objects in different environments is contextualized, as, for example, in Shalom Sabar's study of {h.}amsa amulets in Morocco and Israel. For diasporic Jewish culture, the question of feeling at home is an emotional issue that frequently emerges in literature, folklore, and the visual and performing arts. The phrase 'at-homeness in exile' aptly expresses the tension between the different heritages with which Jews identify, including that between the biblical promised land and the cultural locations from which Jewish migration emanated. The essays in this volume take a closer look at the way in which ideas about feeling at home as a Jew are expressed in literature originating in Brazil, Argentina, and the United States, and also at the political ramifications of these emotions. The question is further explored in a series of exchanges on the future of Jews feeling 'at home' in Australia, Germany, Israel, and the United States. Jews at Home is the first book to examine the theme of the Jewish home materially and emotionally from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including literature, history, anthropology, sociology, psychology, art history, and folk and popular culture. The essays in the collection use the theme of home and the concept of domestication to revise understanding of the lived (and built) past, and to open new analytical possibilities for the future. Its discussion of domestic culture and its relevance to Jewish identity is one with which readers should feel right at home.

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About The Author

Simon J. Bronner is Distinguished Professor of American Studies and Folklore and Founding Director of the Center for Holocaust and Jewish Studies at the Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg. He is also the convener of the Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Section of the American Folklore Society. His books include Folklore: The Basics (2017) and Explaining Traditions: Folk Behavior in Modern Culture (2011).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Cover 1
Half Title2
Title Page4
Copyright5
Dedication6
Editor and Advisers7
Acknowledgements8
Contents10
Note on Transliteration12
Introduction: The Dualities of House and Home in Jewish Culture14
PART I · IN AND OUT OF THE HOME 54
1 The Domestication of Urban Jewish Space and the North-West London Eruv 56
2 Every Wise Woman Shoppeth for her House: The Sisterhood Gift Shop and the American Jewish Home in the Mid-Twentieth Century88
PART II · SACRED, SECULAR, AND PROFANE IN THE HOME 118
3 Reimagining Home, Rethinking Sukkah: Rabbinic Discourse and its Contemporary Implications120
4 From Sacred Symbol to Key Ring: The Ḥamsa in Jewish and Israeli Societies153
5 770 Eastern Parkway: The Rebbe’s Home as Icon176
6 From the Nightclub to the Living Room: Gender, Ethnicity, and Upward Mobility in the 1950s Party Records of Three Jewish Women Comics201
PART III · WRITING HOME 228
7 Samuel Rawet’s Wandering Jew: Jewish-Brazilian Monologues of Home and Displacement230
8 Home in the Pampas: Alberto Gerchunoff’s Jewish Gauchos254
9 Domesticity and the Home (Page): Blogging and the Blurring of Public and Private among Orthodox Jewish Women270
PART IV · FORUM: FEELING AT HOME 296
INTRODUCTION298
10 Culture Mavens: Feeling at Home in America300
RESPONSES306
11 At Home in the World308
12 The Co-Construction of Europe as a Jewish Home314
13 Reflections on ‘Culture Mavens’ from an Australian Jewish Perspective320
14 There’s No Place Like Home: America, Israel, and the (Mixed) Blessings of Assimilation329
15 The Last Word: A Response337
Contributors340
Index346