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How to Be a French Jew: Ottoman Immigrant Authors in Early Twentieth-Century Paris
Abstract

Abstract:

This article challenges the assumption that participants in the Judeo-French literary renaissance of the 1930s were exclusively French-born Ashkenazi Jews by focusing on the contributions of new Sephardic immigrants from the Ottoman Empire. Although many immigrants were intent on assimilating into French society, authors such as Abraham Navon and Joseph Benrubi used their literature to encourage the community to find ways to negotiate between ancestral tradition and the new host culture. Close readings of Navon’s and Benrubi’s work reveal a hybrid French–Sephardic identity formed by juxtaposing Judeo-Spanish language and ritual with French secular life. By following these literary models, new immigrants could integrate into French society without denying their heritage.



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