Framing Jewish Culture

BookFraming Jewish Culture

Framing Jewish Culture

Boundaries and Representations

Jewish Cultural Studies, 4


January 1st, 2014

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Modernity offers people choices about who they want to be and how they want to appear to others. The way in which Jews choose to frame their identity establishes the dynamic of their social relations with other Jews and non-Jews - a dynamic complicated by how non-Jews position the boundaries around what and who they define as Jewish. This book uncovers these processes, historically, as well as in contemporary behavior, and finds explanations for the various manifestations, in feeling and action, of 'being Jewish.' Boundaries and borders raise fundamental questions about the difference between Jews and non-Jews. At root, the question is how 'Jewish' is understood in social situations where people recognize or construct boundaries between their own identity and those of others. The question is important because this is by definition the point at which the lines of demarcation between Jews and non-Jews, and between different groupings of Jews, are negotiated. Collectively, the contributors to the book expand our understanding of the social dynamics of framing Jewish identity. The book opens with an introduction that locates the issues raised by the contributors in terms of the scholarly traditions from which they have evolved. Part I presents four essays dealing with the construction and maintenance of boundaries - two by scholars showing how boundaries come to be etched on an ethnic landscape and two by activists who question and adjust distinctions among neighbors. Part II focuses on expressive means of conveying identity and memory, while, in Part III, the discussion turns to museum exhibitions and festive performances as locations for the negotiation of identity in the public sphere. A lively discussion forum concludes the book with a consideration of the paradoxes of Jewish heritage revival in Poland, and the perception of that revival by Jews and non-Jews. *** ..".these essays help us understand the social dynamics of Jewish identity and how identity is constructed in modern life." -- AJL Reviews, February/March 2015 (Series: Jewish Cultural Studies - Vol. 4) [Subject: Jewish Studies, Cultural Studies]

Author Information

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
Dedication Page3
Title Page4
Copyright Page5
Note on Transliteration12
Introduction: Framing Jewish Culture14
Part I: Boundary Construction and Maintenance44
Chapter 1: Representing Jewish Culture: The Problem of Boundaries46
Chapter 2: Trickster’s Children: Genealogies of Jewishness in Anthropology90
Chapter 3: Selective Inclusion: Integration and Isolation of Jews in Medieval Italy110
Chapter 4: The Question of Hasidic Sectarianism138
Part II: Narrating and Visualizing Jewish Relationships162
Chapter 5: Framing Father–Son Relationships in Medieval Ashkenaz: Folk Narratives as Markers of Cultural Difference164
Chapter 6: Sites of Collective Memory in Narratives of the Prague Ghetto186
Chapter 7: Wearing Many Hats: Hair-Covering among Orthodox Jewish Women in Amish Country206
Chapter 8: Negative Interfaith Romances and the Reassertion of Jewish Difference in Popular Film230
Part III: Exhibitions and Performances of Jewish Culture252
Chapter 9: ‘The Night of the Orvietani’ and the Mediation of Jewish and Italian Identities254
Chapter 10: Jewish Museums: Performing the Present through Narrating the Past284
Chapter 11: Framing Jewish Identity in the Museum of Moroccan Judaism in Casablanca306
Chapter 12: The Framing of the Jew: Paradigms of Incorporation and Difference in the Jewish Heritage Revival in Poland326
Part IV: How Real is the European Jewish Revival?346
Chapter 13: Beyond Virtually Jewish: Monuments to Jewish Experience in Eastern Europe348
Chapter 14: Unsettling Encounters: Missing Links of European Jewish Experience and Discourse370
Chapter 15: Virtual Transitioning into Real: Jewishness in Central Eastern Europe378
Chapter 16: Virtual, Virtuous, Vicarious, Vacuous? Towards a Vigilant Use of Labels396
Chapter 17: The Last Word410