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Reconstructing Jewish Identity in Pre- and Post-Holocaust Literature and Culture


Edited By Lucyna Aleksandrowicz-Pedich and Malgorzata Pakier

The volume aims to illuminate the issue of Jewish identity in the context of its pre-Holocaust European origins and post-Holocaust American and Israeli settings. Jewish experience and identity construction in Europe, America and Israel are presented through diverse perspectives: Merchant of Venice in the light of Levinas’ ethics, Italian Jews in the 20th century, German-speaking Jewish authors in the Nazi 1930s, the Hassidic culture of learning, the representation of contemporary Poland in Jewish photography, Jewish life in America in a kashrut observing Orthodox neighbourhood, Kaballah in feminist cyberpunk fiction by Marge Piercy, constructing Jewish identity in British fiction in novels by Will Self and Muriel Spark, and Israeli films focusing on ethical solutions to political problems.


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Purity, Charity, Community: The Power of Kashrutin an Orthodox Jewish Neighborhood. Jody Myers


Purity, Charity, Community: The Power of Kashrut in an Orthodox Jewish Neighborhood Jody Myers Within the framework of Orthodox Judaism, meal time is an occasion for demonstrating one’s devotion to God. Food choices, preparation, and eating are an important element of religious behavior and belief. Food is never merely fuel for the body or the source of enjoyment; even a small morsel or drink necessi- tates a blessing of praise to God. Kashrut is the Hebrew term for the intricate system of laws and restrictions that render food ritually pure and fit for con- sumption. Kashrut is based in the Torah, the term for God’s revelation in the Pentateuch and in the oral traditions mediated by rabbis and recorded by them in the post-biblical era Talmud and religious law codes. Following the laws of kashrut (“keeping kosher”) means, first and foremost, that one’s food choices are significantly narrowed, relative to the rest of humanity. Ideally, the religious Jew accepts the food restrictions as a show of love for God. Honoring the rules of kashrut has been described in religious literature most often, however, as an act of obedience. The Torah does not explain in rational terms why certain foods and mixtures are forbidden; indeed, the prohibitions sound arbitrary and may appear trivial and even ridiculous, and they are presented as decrees with no ev- ident rationale. Despite these restrictions, the Torah encourages Jews to seek satisfaction and to express love and happiness in eating and feeding others. The many food-centered...

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