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When first published in 1979, Haim Be'er's Feathers was a critical and commercial success, ushering in a period of great productivity and expansiveness in modern Hebrew literature. Now considered a classic in Israeli fiction the book is finally available to English readers worldwide. In this, his first novel, Be'er portrays the world of a deeply religious community in Jerusalem during the author's childhood and adolescence in the 1950s and 60s. The novel is filled with vivid portraits of eccentric Jerusalem characters, chief among them the book's main character, Mordecai Leder, who dreams of founding a utopian colony based on the theories of the nineteenth-century Viennese Jewish thinker Karl Popper-Lynkeus. Similar high-flying dreams inspire the family of the narrator, strict Orthodox Jews with impractical minds and adventurous souls--men such as the narrator's father, who periodically disappears from home on botanical expeditions meant to prove that the willow tree of Scripture is in fact the Australian eucalyptus.
Experimental in structure and mood, Feathers features kaleidoscopic jumps in time, back and forth in the narrator's memories from boyhood to adulthood. Its moods swing wildly from hilarity to the macabre, from familial warmth to the loneliness of adolescence. Jerusalem and its inhabitants, as well as the emotional life of the narrator, are splintered and reconstituted, shattered and patched. This fragmentation, combined with a preoccupation with death and physical dissolution and dreamlike flights of imagination, evokes an Israeli magical realism.
Feathers was chosen one of the 100 Greatest Works of Modern Jewish Literature by the National Yiddish Book Center.
This book offers a fresh perspective on classical Jewish literature by providing a gender-based, feminist reading of rabbinical anecdotes and legends. Viewing rabbinical legends as sources that generate perceptions about women and gender, Inbar Raveh provides answers to questions such as how the Sages viewed women; how they formed and molded their characterization of them; how they constructed the ancient discourse on femininity; and what the status of women was in their society. Raveh also re-creates the voices and stories of the women themselves within their sociohistorical context, moving them from the periphery to the center and exposing how men maintain power. Chapter topics include desire and control, pain, midwives, prostitutes, and myth.
A major contribution to the fields of literary criticism and Jewish studies, Raveh’s book demonstrates the possibility of appreciating the aesthetic beauty and complexity of patriarchal texts, while at the same time recognizing their limitations.
Feminist Perspectives on Orthodox Responsa Literature
This book presents, from the perspective of feminist jurisprudence and feminist and liberal bioethics, a complete study of Jewish law (halakhah) on contemporary reproductive issues such as birth control, abortion, and assisted fertility. Irshai examines these issues to probe gender-based values that underlie the interpretations and determinations reached by modern practitioners of halakhah. Her primary goal is to tell, through common halakhic tools, a different halakhic story, one that takes account of the female narrative and its missing perspective.
The Menstruant in Medieval Jewish Mysticism
This book addresses a central question in the study of Jewish mysticism in the medieval and early modern periods: why are there no known female mystics in medieval Judaism, unlike contemporaneous movements in Christianity and Islam? Sharon Faye Koren demonstrates that the male rejection of female mystical aspirations is based in deeply rooted attitudes toward corporeality and ritual purity. In particular, medieval Jewish male mystics increasingly emphasized that the changing states of the female body between ritual purity and impurity disqualified women from the quest for mystical connection with God.
Offering a provocative look at premodern rabbinical views of the female body and their ramifications for women's spiritual development, Koren compares Jewish views with medieval Christian and Muslim views of both female menstruation and the possibility of female mystical experience.
Patterns in Work, Education, and Family in Contemporary Life
In Gender and American Jews, Harriet Hartman and Moshe Hartman interpret the results of the two most recent National Jewish Population Surveys. Building on their critical work in Gender Equality and American Jews (1996), and drawing on relevant sociological work on gender, religion, and secular achievement, this new book brings their analysis of gendered patterns in contemporary Jewish life right to the present moment.
The first part of the book examines the distinctiveness of American Jews in terms of family behavior, labor-force patterns, and educational and occupational attainment. The second investigates the interrelationships between "Jewishness" and religious, economic, and family behavior, including intermarriage. Deploying an engaging assortment of charts and graphs and a rigorous grasp of statistics, the Hartmans provide a multifaceted portrait of a multidimensional population.
The Story of Worms
German and Jewish ways of life have been interwoven in Worms, Germany, for over a thousand years. Despite radical changes brought about by expulsion of Jews, wartime devastation, social advancement, cultural and religious renewal, and the Jewish community's destruction during the Holocaust, the Jewish sites of Worms display a remarkable degree of continuity, which has contributed to the development of distinct urban Jewish cultures, memories, and identities.
Tracing the recollection and invention of local Jewish historical traditions in religious commemorations, historical writings, museums, and historical monuments, and the transformation from "sites" to "sights" in the form of tourism from the Middle Ages to the present, Roemer's rich study of Worms offers a blueprint for historians interested in developing similar studies of cities over the longue duree.
This volume offers a fascinating look at the complex relationship between Jews and Europe during the past two hundred years, and how the European Jewish and non-Jewish intelligentsia interpreted the modern Jewish experience, primarily in Germany, Russia, and Central and Eastern Europe. Beginning with premodern European attitudes toward Jews, Reinharz and Shavit move quickly to "the glorious nineteenth century," a period in which Jewish dreams of true assimilation came up against modern antisemitism. Later chapters explore the fin-de-siecle "crisis of modernity"; the myth of the modern European Jew; expectations and fears in the interwar period; differences between European nations in their attitude toward Jews; the views of Zionists and early settlers of Palestine and Israel toward the Europe left behind; and views of contemporary Israeli intellectuals toward Europe, including its new Muslim population--the latest incarnation of the Jewish Question in Europe.
A History and Guide
What is Holocaust literature? When does it begin and how is it changing? Is there an essential core that consists of diaries, eyewitness accounts of the concentration camps, and tales of individual survival? Is it the same everywhere: West and East, in Australia as in the Americas, in poetry as in prose? Is this literature sacred and separate, or can it be studied alongside other responses to catastrophe? What works of Holocaust literature will be read a hundred years from now--and why?
Here, for the first time, is a historical survey of Holocaust literature in all genres, countries, and major languages. Beginning in wartime, it proceeds from the literature of mobilization and mourning in the Free World to the vast literature produced in Nazi-occupied ghettos, bunkers and places of hiding, transit and concentration camps. No less remarkable is the new memorial literature that begins to take shape within weeks and months of the liberation. Moving from Europe to Israel, the United States, and beyond, the authors situate the writings by real and proxy witnesses within three distinct postwar periods: "communal memory," still internal and internecine; "provisional memory" in the 1960s and 1970s, when a self-conscious Holocaust genre is born; and "authorized memory," in which we live today.
Twenty book covers--first editions in their original languages--and a guide to the "first hundred books" show the multilingual scope, historical depth, and artistic range of this extraordinary body of writing.
Family, History, and Trauma
In this brave and original work, Federica Clementi focuses on the mother-daughter bond as depicted in six works by women who experienced the Holocaust, sometimes with their mothers, sometimes not. The daughters' memoirs, which record the "all-too-human" qualities of those who were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis, show that the Holocaust cannot be used to neatly segregate lives into the categories of before and after. Clementi's discussions of differences in social status, along with the persistence of antisemitism and patriarchal structures, support this point strongly, demonstrating the tenacity of trauma--individual, familial, and collective--among Jews in twentieth-century Europe.