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Diasporas and Exiles

Varieties of Jewish Identity

Howard Wettstein

Publication Year: 2002

Diaspora, considered as a context for insights into Jewish identity, brings together a lively, interdisciplinary group of scholars in this innovative volume. Readers needn't expect, however, to find easy agreement on what those insights are. The concept "diaspora" itself has proved controversial; galut, the traditional Hebrew expression for the Jews' perennial condition, is better translated as "exile." The very distinction between diaspora and exile, although difficult to analyze, is important enough to form the basis of several essays in this fine collection.

"Identity" is an even more elusive concept. The contributors to Diasporas and Exiles explore Jewish identity—or, more accurately, Jewish identities—from the mutually illuminating perspectives of anthropology, art history, comparative literature, cultural studies, German history, philosophy, political theory, and sociology. These contributors bring exciting new emphases to Jewish and cultural studies, as well as the emerging field of diaspora studies. Diasporas and Exiles mirrors the richness of experience and the attendant virtual impossibility of definition that constitute the challenge of understanding Jewish identity.

Published by: University of California Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. 1-17

This volume represents and extends the work of a fall 1997 University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) residential research group on Jewish identity in the diaspora. The group was multidisciplinary; members represented anthropology, art history, comparative literature, cultural studies, German, history, ...

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1. Diaspora and Homeland

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pp. 18-46

Diaspora lies deeply rooted in Jewish consciousness. It existed in one form or another almost from the start, and it persists as an integral part of the Jews’ experience of history. The status of absence from the center has demanded time and again that Jews confront and, in some fashion, come to terms with a seemingly inescapable concomitant of their being.1 ...

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2. Coming to Terms with Exile

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pp. 47-59

“Diaspora” is a relatively new English word and has no traditional Hebrew equivalent.1 It seems closely related to the more traditional concept, galut, exile. Indeed, they might seem to be expressions for the same idea. Nevertheless, reflection on the two concepts reveals crucial differences.2 ...

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3. A Politics and Poetics of Diaspora: Heine’s “Hebräische Melodien”

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pp. 60-77

Heinrich Heine’s “Hebräische Melodien,” whose three long poems comprise the third and final part of Romanzero (Romancero, 1851), has long been scanned by critics for evidence of alterations in his views of religion and his affiliation with Judaism. The overall meaning(s) and structure of the text are often identified and assessed ...

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4. Dancing at Two Weddings: Mazel between Exile and Diaspora

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pp. 78-112

My essay is informed by a question: why have the Jews and modern Jewish writers persisted in their love affair with city life? The folk proverb “die Stadtluft macht frei” [the city air liberates] suggests one kind of explanation. Episodes ranging from the Book of Esther—“The city of Shushan was perplexed”— to scenes and works from the contemporary Brazilian writer Moacyr Scliar, ...

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5. Portraiture and Assimilation in Vienna: The Case of Hans Tietze and Erica Tietze-Conrat

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pp. 113-149

A mimetic regime of representation dominates painting and sculpture in Europe from the Renaissance to the early twentieth century. The genre of portraiture developed relatively late, “almost like an unexpected gift brought by a visitor no longer waited for,” as it was put by the famous cultural historian Jacob Burckhardt in 1898.1 ...

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6. A Different Road to Modernity: Jewish Identity in the Arab World

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pp. 150-163

Agadir is a southern Moroccan Atlantic resort city with a predominantly Berber population. The Jewish community has dwindled to less than two hundred and its synagogue during most the months of the years rarely has more than a handful of congregants. But during the summer, Moroccan Jews from many countries vacation in Agadir and elsewhere in the country. ...

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7. Remaking Jewish Identity in France

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pp. 164-190

On October 2, 1997, the Socialist government of France, headed by Lionel Jospin, opened the archives of the period of the Vichy regime to historians with the following explanation: “It is the duty of the Republic to perpetuate the memory of the events which took place in our country between 1940 and 1945. ...

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8. “This Is Not What I Want”: Holocaust Testimony, Postmemory, and Jewish Identity

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pp. 191-220

The past several years has seen a burst of Holocaust testimonials—both in written and oral forms—in great part due to survivors’ reaching the end of their lives and feeling a sense of obligation to record these histories (Bartov, 1993).1 Although many survivors recount that they felt that no one wanted to hear their stories after the war, ...

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9. The Ideology of Affliction: Reconsidering the Adversity Thesis

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pp. 221-233

A Jew walks along the streets of Minsk (or was it Pinsk?). A bird flying above relieves itself right on his head. He looks up plaintively and says, “far de goyim zingen zey” [for the goyim they sing]. ...

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10. Jewish Identity Writ Small: The Everyday Experience of Baalot Teshuvah

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pp. 234-252

During one ofmymany conversations with Penina, a Lubavitcher baalat teshuvah, she reflected on the importance of a Jewish identity, saying, “in the religious life you are a Jew as your primary identity before you’re a woman or a man. If things sway you through your second identity as a woman or a man you have to go back to your primary identity ...

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11. Contesting Identities in Jewish Philanthropy

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pp. 253-278

In a 1997 essay called “The Politics of Philanthropy,” David Biale takes to task the United Jewish Appeal’s fundraising strategy of linking Jewish identity to an illusory sense of Jewish unity. The UJA’s slogan, “We are one,” proclaims the theme of unity and agreement against which Biale reacts. ...

List of Contributors

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pp. 279-280


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pp. 281-292

Production Notes

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p. 302-302

E-ISBN-13: 9780520926899
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520228641

Page Count: 300
Publication Year: 2002

Research Areas


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