Cultures of the Jews: A New History. Edited by David Biale

978-5-9953-0286-5, 978-5-7516-1171-2;
352 pages

Twenty-three of the finest scholars of our day—archaeologists, cultural historians, literary critics, art historians , folklorists, and historians of relation, all affiliated with major academic institutions in the United States, Israel, and France—have contributed their insight to Cultures of the Jews. The premise of their endeavor is that although Jews have always had their own autonomous traditions, Jewish identity cannot be considered immutable, the fixed product of either ancient ethnic or religious origins. Rather, it has shifted and assumed new forms in response to the cultural environment in which the Jews have lived.

Building their essays on specific cultural artifacts—a poem, a letter, a traveler’s account, a physical object of everyday or ritual use—that were made in the period and locale they study, the contributors describe the cultural interactions among different Jews—from rabbis and scholars to non-elite groups, including women—as well as between Jews and the surrounding non-Jewish world.

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