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GALIT HASAN-ROKEM Textualizing the Tales of the People of the Book: Folk Narrative Anthologies and National Identity in Modern Israel WHETHER IT IS THE WORK OF THE GRIMM BROTHERS or the Finnish epic Kalevala, collecting oral folk creativity, writing it down, and publishing it in anthologies is one of the most noted components in the formation of national identity in modern times.1 These great anthologies all have their origins in a matrix of ideology and politics, and those matrices not only engendered them but also endowed them with their singular features. Certainly, this was the case with folk-narrative anthologies in Israel. The work of Dov Noy, the preeminent scholar of Jewish folklore and the founder of the Israel Folk Archives, produced and stimulated a vast and impressive retrieval of Jewish lore from the major Jewish communities of the world just at the moment when most of these communities had ceased to exist, whether by destruction, modernization, or removal to Israel. The shifting dialectic between this enormous anthological project and the emergence of the modern State of Israel is the subject of this paper. This inquiry is part of a larger effort by folklorists in many countries to deconstruct the functional connection between nation building and folklore studies and to understand the purposes the discipline has historically served. Dov Noy was born in 1922 in Kolomea in the Ukraine. Although Yiddish was spoken in his home, Noy was tutored in Hebrew as a young boy by the poet Shimshon Meltzer, and he later learned German and Polish in the gymnasium. Noy immigrated to Palestine in 1938, the only PROOFTEXTS 19 (1999): 71-82 O 1999 by The Johns Hopkins University Press 72GALIT HASAN-ROKEM member of his family to do so; the rest perished in the Holocaust, except for his brother Meir, who became a musician and ethnomusicologist. After serving in the British army in World War II, Noy held a central position in organizing educational services for Jewish refugees who had been sent by the British to Cyprus after trying to enter Palestine illegally. Working with these survivors—among whom he discovered his brother Meir—proved a turning point for Noy. The sudden and shocking awareness of the destruction of an entire culture created in Noy the urgent need to reconstruct the narrative universe of these lost worlds. After completing his doctorate at Indiana University under Stith Thompson, the doyen of American folktale research, Noy returned to Israel and founded the Israel Folktale Archives (IFA) in Haifa in 1955. At the beginning, Noy worked mostly with volunteers, who approached narrators from various ethnic backgrounds and recorded their repertoires . The singling out of narrators was intuitive rather than systematic, and often based on personal acquaintanceship. The recording was done in writing by hand, and the documentation was often haphazard. Later, the procedures of the IFA became much more systematic. Audio or video recordings were accompanied by meticulous documentation of the circumstances of the narration as well as the narrators' biographies. The same process of professionalization was evident in the case of publications . The first publications of the IFA were initiated for several reasons: to gratify the volunteers for their efforts in collecting material; to enhance the self-image of the narrators; and to gain respectability for an enterprise that was entirely dependent on public sponsorship. The publications, like the collection efforts they were based on, later became more systematic and more formally annotated. From the inception of the project, the work of the IFA was animated by two contradictory impulses. On the one hand, in gathering into a central Israeli archive folk materials that originated in widely dispersed Jewish communities, the IFA was enacting and contributing to one of the great ambitions of the young state: mizug galuyot, the ingathering of the exiles, the process whereby Israeli society became a melting pot for the emerging national identity. On the other hand, there was an equivalent, but opposed, tendency of the folk material to enhance particular ethnic identities. Rather than disappearing into the melting pot, groups were reinforced in their separateness by the ethnographic mirror held up to them by the work of the folk archives. In the first...


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