Using a range of visual and archival sources, this article examines the "body culture" of German Zionism around the fin de siecle. I give particular attention to Max Nordau's invention of the muscle Jew and the ideology of regeneration in The Jewish Gymnastics Journal. I argue that Nordau's muscle Jew can be understood as a conceptual extension and elaboration of the traits attributed to the "true modern" in Degeneration: Health and originality of race, clarity of vision and purpose, strength of body, discipline, and adaptability become qualities that describe the muscle Jew and characterize the Zionist project of Jewish regeneration.


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pp. 269-296
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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