Wayne State University Press

Raphael Patai Series in Jewish Folklore and Anthropology

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Raphael Patai Series in Jewish Folklore and Anthropology

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King Solomon and the Golden Fish

Tales from the Sephardic Tradition

Texts Collected and Edited by Matilda Koén-Sarano Translated and Annotated by Reginetta Haboucha Preamble by Yoel Shalom Perez

Orality has been central to the transmission of Sephardic customs, wisdom, and values for centuries. Throughout the Middle Ages, Spanish Jews were known for their linguistic skills, and as translators and storytellers they were the main transmitters of Eastern/Islamic culture to the Christian world. Derived from a distinguished heritage, Judeo-Spanish storytelling has evolved over a five-hundred-year historical journey. Constant contact with the surrounding societies of the past and with modern Israeli influences, making it more universal than other Sephardic oral genres. Told in order to entertain but also to teach, Judeo-Spanish folktales convey timeless wisdom and a colorful depiction of Sephardic communities up to the first half of the twentieth century. King Solomon and the Golden Fish is a selection of fifty-four folktales taken from Matilda Koén-Sarano’s collection of stories recorded in Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) and translated by Reginetta Haboucha into fluent and idiomatic English that preserves the flavor and oral nuances of each text. Haboucha provides commentary and annotations to the folktales that enlighten both the academic and the lay reader, making this book at once appealing to scholars and enjoyable for the general public. King Solomon and the Golden Fish is divided into six main thematic sections: Supernatural Tales, Tales of Fate, Tales of the Prophet Elijah, Romantic Tales, Tales of Cleverness and Wisdom, and Jokes and Anecdotes. These folktales remain a powerful link between modern-day Spanish Jews and the Hispano-Jewish legacy—this collection passes along that legacy and provides a source of the customs and values of Sephardic Jews.

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Louis Ginzberg's Legends of the Jews

Ancient Jewish Folk Literature Reconsidered

Edited by Galit Hasan-Rokem and Ithamar Gruenwald

At the beginning of the twentieth century, many perceived American Jewry to be in a state of crisis as traditions of faith faced modern sensibilities. Published beginning in 1909, Rabbi and Professor Louis Ginzberg’s seven-volume The Legends of the Jews appeared at this crucial time and offered a landmark synthesis of aggadah from classical Rabbinic literature and ancient folk legends from a number of cultures. It remains a hugely influential work of scholarship from a man who shaped American Conservative Judaism. In Louis Ginzberg’s Legends of the Jews: Ancient Jewish Folk Literature Reconsidered, editors Galit Hasan-Rokem and Ithamar Gruenwald present a range of reflections on the Legends, inspired by two plenary sessions devoted to its centennial at the Fifteenth Congress of the World Association of Jewish Studies in August 2009. In order to provide readers with the broadest possible view of Ginzberg’s colossal project and its repercussions in contemporary scholarship, the editors gathered leading scholars to address it from a variety of historical, philological, philosophical, and methodological perspectives. Contributors give special regard to the academic expertise and professional identity of the author of the Legends as a folklore scholar and include discussions on the folkloristic underpinnings of The Legends of the Jews. They also investigate, each according to her or his disciplinary framework, the uniqueness, strengths, and weakness of the project. An introduction by Rebecca Schorsch and a preface by Galit Hasan-Rokem further highlight the folk narrative aspects of the work in addition to the articles themselves. The present volume makes clear the historical and scholarly context of Ginzberg’s milestone work as well as the methodological and theoretical issues that emerge from studying it and other forms of aggadic literature. Scholars of Jewish folklore as well as of Talmudic-Midrashic literature will find this volume to be invaluable reading.

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Mediterranean Israeli Music and the Politics of the Aesthetic

Amy Horowitz

Examines a pan-ethnic style of music created by North African and Middle Eastern Israeli musicians in the late twentieth century.

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Mystical Bodies, Mystical Meals

Eating and Embodiment in Medieval Kabbalah

Joel Hecker

Mystical Bodies, Mystical Meals is the first book-length study of mystical eating practices and experiences in the kabbalah. Focusing on the Jewish mystical literature of late-thirteenth-century Spain, author Joel Hecker analyzes the ways in which the Zohar and other contemporaneous literature represent mystical attainment in their homilies about eating. What emerges is not only consideration of eating practices but, more broadly, the effects such practices and experiences have on the bodies of its practitioners. Using anthropology, sociology, ritual studies, and gender theory, Hecker accounts for the internal topography of the body as imaginatively conceived by kabbalists. For these mystics, the physical body interacts with the material world to effect transformations within themselves and within the Divinity. The kabbalists experience the ideal body as one of fullness, one whose boundaries allow for the intake of divine light and power, and for the outward overflow of fruitfulness and generosity; at the same time, the body retains sufficient integrity to confer a sense of completeness, as the perfect symbol for the Divinity itself. Nourishment imagery is used throughout the kabbalah as a metaphor signifying the flow of divine blessing from the upper worlds to the lower, from masculine to feminine, and from Israel to the Godhead. The body’s spiritual continuity allows for unions between the kabbalistic devotee and his food, table, chair, and wine and is exemplified in the practices and experiences surrounding the consumption of food; this continuity is also applicable to other aspects of embodiment, such as the kabbalist’s union with his fellow man. Mystical Bodies, Mystical Meals underscores the homosocial quality of the kabbalistic fraternity, in which gendered hierarchies of master and disciple are linked to the imagery and dynamics of nourishment and sexuality. Bringing this entire spectrum into focus, Hecker ultimately considers how the oral cavity and stomach, even the emotions associated with festive meals, are mobilized to produce the soul of the mystical saint in medieval kabbalah.

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A Narrative Community

Voices of Israeli Backpackers

Chaim Noy

Backpacking, or Tarmila’ut, has been a time-honored rite of passage for young Israelis for decades. Shortly after completing their mandatory military service, young people set off on extensive backpacking trips to “exotic” and “authentic” destinations in so-called Third World regions in India, Nepal, and Thailand in Asia, and also Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina in Central and South America. Chaim Noy collects the words and stories of Israeli backpackers to explore the lively interplay of quotations, constructed dialogues, and social voices in the backpackers’ stories and examine the crucial role they play in creating a vibrant, voiced community. A Narrative Community illustrates how, against the peaks of Mt. Everest, avalanches, and Incan cities, the travelers’ storytelling becomes an inherently social drama of shared knowledge, values, hierarchy, and aesthetics. Based on forty-five in-depth narrative interviews, the research in this book examines how identities and a sense of belonging emerge on different social levels—the individual, the group, and the collective—through voices that evoke both the familiar and the Other. In addition, A Narrative Community makes a significant contribution to modern tourism literature by exploring the sociolinguistic dimension related to tourists’ accounts and particularly the transformation of self that occurs with the experience of travel. In particular, it addresses the interpersonal persuasion that travelers use in their stories to convince others to join in the ritual of backpacking by stressing the personal development that they have gained through their journeys. This volume is groundbreaking in its dialogical conceptualization of the interview as a site of cultural manifestation, innovation, and power relations. The methods employed, which include qualitative sampling and interviewing, clearly demonstrate ways of negotiating, manifesting, and embodying speech performances. Because of its unique interdisciplinary nature, A Narrative Community will be of interest to sociolinguists, folklore scholars, performance studies scholars, tourism scholars, and those interested in social discourses in Israel.

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Next Year I Will Know More

Literacy and Identity among Young Orthodox Women in Israel

By Tamar El-Or Translated by Haim Watzman

In traditional Jewish societies of previous centuries, literacy education was mostly a male prerogative. Even more recently, women have not been taught the traditional male curriculum that includes the Talmud and midrashic books. But the situation is changing, partly because of the special emphasis that modern Judaism places on learning its philosophy and traditions and on broadening its circle of knowers. In Next Year I Will Know More, the distinguished Israeli anthropologist Tamar El-Or explores the spreading practice of intensive Judaic studies among women in the religious Zionist community. Feminist literacy, notes El-Or, will alter gender relations and the construction of gender identities of the members of the religious community. This in turn could effect changes in Jewish theology and law. In an engaging narrative that offers rare insights into a traditional society in the midst of a modern world, the author points to a community that will be more feminist—and even more religious.

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Paths to Middle-Class Mobility among Second-Generation Moroccan Immigrant Women in Israel

Beverly Mizrachi

While first-generation immigrant women often begin their lives at the bottom of their new societies, the fates of their adult daughters can be very different. Still, little research has been done to examine the opportunities or constraints that second-generation women face and the class achievements they make. In this volume, author Beverly Mizrachi presents an in-depth study of 40­-50-year-old Moroccan women whose parents made up part of the largest ethnic group to enter Israel after its establishment in 1948 and whose mothers began their new lives at the bottom of the economic and social ladder. Through her analysis of the life history narratives of these women, Mizrachi reveals that they used a range and number of sites to achieve an impressive mobility into the low, middle, and high segments of the middle class. Mizrachi's findings have implications for studying the middle-class mobility of second-generation immigrant women from subordinate groups in other Western societies. Paths to Middle-Class Mobility among Second-Generation Moroccan Immigrant Women in Israel begins by examining the historical background and culture of Jewish communities in Morocco that affected the mobility resources of the first, immigrant generation of Moroccan women in Israel and those accrued by the second generation. Mizrachi goes on to analyze the life history narratives of a group of six second-generation Moroccan women to show how they used their education, employment, gendered spousal relationships, motherhood, residential mobility, and the body to achieve their middle-class mobility. Ultimately, she finds that these women used their human agency and social structures over these multiple social sites to reach their class goals for themselves and their children while simultaneously constructing new classed and ethnicized feminine identities. Mizrachi's findings integrate issues of gender, ethnicity, immigration, and class mobility in a single intriguing study. Her volume will appeal to students and teachers of sociology, anthropology, ethnography, and Middle East studies as well as readers interested in immigration and women's studies.

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Sister in Sorrow

Life Histories of Female Holocaust Survivors from Hungary

Ilana Rosen

Sister in Sorrow offers a glimpse into the world of Hungarian Holocaust survivors through the stories of fifteen survivors, as told by thirteen women and two spouses presently living in Hungary and Israel. Analyzing the accounts as oral narratives, author Ilana Rosen uses contemporary folklore studies methodologies to explore the histories and the consciousness of the narrators as well as the difficulty for present-day audiences to fully grasp them. Rosen’s research demonstrates not only the extreme personal horrors these women experienced but also the ways they cope with their memories. In four sections, Rosen interprets the life histories according to two major contemporary leading literary approaches: psychoanalysis and phenomenology. This reading encompasses both the life spans of the survivors and specific episodes or personal narratives relating to the women’s identity and history. The psychoanalytic reading examines focal phases in the lives of the women, first in pre-war Europe, then in World War II and the Holocaust, and last as Holocaust survivors living in the shadow of loss and atrocity. The phenomenological examination traces the terms of perception and of the communication between the women and their different present-day non-survivor audiences. An appendix contains the complete life histories of the women, including their unique and affecting remembrances. Although Holocaust memory and narrative have figured at the center of academic, political, and moral debates in recent years, most works look at such stories from a social science perspective and attempt to extend the meaning of individual tales to larger communities. Although Rosen keeps the image of the general group—be it Jews, female Holocaust survivors, Israelis, or Hungarians—in mind throughout this volume, the focus of Sister in Sorrow is the ways the individual women experienced, told, and processed their harrowing experiences. Students of Holocaust studies and women’s studies will be grateful for the specific and personal approach of Sister in Sorrow.

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Staging and Stagers in Modern Jewish Palestine

The Creation of Festive Lore in a New Culture, 1882-1948

By Yaacov Shavit and Shoshana Sitton Translated by Chaya Naor

This fascinating case study describes the work of the people responsible for creating festive lore and its system of ceremonies and festivities—an inseparable part of every culture. In the case of the new modern Hebrew culture of Eretz Israel (modern Jewish Palestine)—a society of immigrants that left behind most of their traditional folkways—the creation of festival lore was a conscious and organized process guided by a national ideology and aesthetic values. This creative effort in a secular national society served as an alternative to the traditional religious system, adapted the ceremonies and festivals to a new historical reality, and created a new festival cycle that would give expression and joy to the values and symbols of the new Jewish society. Staging and Stagers in Modern Jewish Palestine claims that the system of ceremonies and festivals, in general, and each separate ceremony and festival were staged according to the staging instructions written by a defined group of cultural activists. The book examines three main stages—the educational network, rural society (particularly the cooperative sector), and urban society (most notably Tel Aviv)—and looks at the stagers themselves, who were schoolteachers, writers, artists, and cultural activists. Though cultural systems of festivals and ceremonies are often researched and described, scholarly literature rarely identifies their creators or studies in detail the manner in which these systems are created. Staging and Stagers in Modern Jewish Palestine sheds important light on the stagers of modern Jewish Palestine and also on the processes and mechanisms that created the performative lore in other cultures, in ancient as well as modern times.

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Unwitting Zionists

The Jewish Community of Zakho in Iraqi Kurdistan

Haya Gavish

Unwitting Zionists examines the Jewish community in the northern Kurdistan town of Zakho from the end of the Ottoman period until the disappearance of the community through aliyah by 1951. Because of its remote location, Zakho was far removed from the influence of the Jewish religious leadership in Iraq and preserved many of its religious traditions independently, becoming the most important Jewish community in the region and known as “Jerusalem of Kurdistan.” Author Haya Gavish argues, therefore, that when the community was exposed to Zionism, it began to open up to external influences and activity. Originally published in Hebrew, Unwitting Zionists uses personal memoirs, historical records, and interviews to investigate the duality between Jewish tradition and Zionism among Zakho’s Jews. Gavish consults a variety of sources to examine the changes undergone by the Jewish community as a result of its religious affiliation with Eretz-Israel, its exposure to Zionist efforts, and its eventual immigration to Israel. Because relatively little written documentation about Zakho exists, Gavish relies heavily on folkloristic sources like personal recollections and traditional stories, including extensive material from her own fieldwork with an economically and demographically diverse group of men and women from Zakho. She analyzes this firsthand information within a historical framework to reconstruct a communal reality and lifestyle that was virtually unknown to anyone outside of the community. Appendixes contain biographical details of the interviewees for additional background. Gavish also addresses the relative merits of personal memoirs, optimal interviewer-interviewee relationships, and the problem of relying on the interviewees’ memories in her study. Folklore, oral history, anthropology, and Israeli studies scholars, as well as anyone wanting to learn more about religion, commuity, and nationality in the Middle East will appreciate Unwitting Zionists.

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