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

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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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Recent Israeli Films:A New Option for a Different Israeli HistoryNurith Gertz

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Recent Israeli Films: A New Option for a Different Israeli History Nurith Gertz The collective memories of Israeli society flow around and between Holocaust Remembrance Day, and Independence Day. Memories that shape a fragmented, broken history, replete with lacunas, suppressions and omissions: a traumatic history. According to Freud (Freud 1914/1974, Caruth 1996, Elsaesser 1996-97, Kaes 2009), such a history is interwoven with a terrible and difficult event that is not grasped in the consciousness, does not communicate with previous knowledge, and thus is not subsumed into a causal chain leading toward the future. Israeli culture ranges from the trauma of the victim, the refugee, the survi- vor, to the trauma of war and bereavement, and between them lies the trauma of the split Israeli identity - of people who refuse victimhood, shun the aggressor's role, and sense the impasse that faces those trapped between the two options. It is the trauma of a people raised and educated on the integration underlying Zion- ism, between ethics and nationalism, between human redemption and a national redemption, between the belief that the goal of Judaism was to serve as a basis for universal morality,1 and the belief that national redemption would enable those universal goals to be fulfilled. That integration was severed with the dis- covery of the disparity between the narrative by which the Jewish people under- stands itself and organizes its past – as a victim - and as a theme of universal justice, and the actual narrative of war, violence,...

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