Current Issue Article Abstracts

Fall 2022, Vol. 46.2

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Rhona Burns
Politics as Invention: On Theodor Herzl’s Ideal Elites


This article explores Theodor Herzl's understanding of social elites and their role in society, especially with regard to creating (or resisting) social and political change. The article follows Herzl's different perceptions of elites and their relation to society, tracing the path that led him from an ideal of an aristocratic republic to his later democratic model. For Herzl, creating a utopia, that is, an ideal polity, effectively meant shaping a new understanding of the elite's position in society. Even though in his imagined future polity elites still govern—and even still, govern with an aristocratic ethos—their relationship with society is changed, shifting from an external authority to a socially and morally engaged position, which forms their public legitimacy and source of power.

Iris Idelson-Shein

Of Wombs and Words: Migrating Misogynies in Early Modern Medical Literature in Latin and Hebrew

In the decades surrounding the end of the seventeenth century, new ideas about women's bodies migrated from Latin medical texts to Hebrew ones. This article follows the journey of one particular idea, that there exists a unique kind of feminine madness, termed furor uterinus in Latin, which originates in the womb, and expresses itself in excessive sexual desire and uncontrollable speech. The article offers a comparative reading of Hebrew depictions of furor uterinus, locating them within their wider cultural context. It reveals the dynamic ways in which early modern Hebrew authors actively participated in contemporary scientific discussions, importing them back into the Jewish community. The intense (albeit often unacknowledged) dialogue which took place between Hebrew medical texts and their source texts offers a valuable lesson on forms of cultural transfer, authorship, and translation, as well as on competing notions of feminine sickness and sexuality in early modern Europe.

Motti Inbari and Menachem Keren-Kratz
The Sociological Model of Haredi Rebbetzins: “Two-Person Single Career” vs. “Parallel-Life Family”

This article discusses the biographies of two well-known ultra-Orthodox rebbetzins (rabbis' wives): Sarah Sonia Diskin (1816–1906) from the Old Yishuv of Jerusalem and Alte Feige Teitelbaum (1912–2001) from the Satmar court of New York. While reviewing the lives of Rebbetzins Diskin and Teitelbaum, the paper explores the function of the ultra-Orthodox rebbetzin and explores how this position allows some women a degree of freedom and recognition. The paper presents the sociological model of the "two-person single career," whereby a husband and wife jointly enhance the man's vocation, thereby also elevating the social status of his wife, and examines the extent to which this model is applicable in the case of the rebbetzins discussed in this paper.

Michael L. Satlow and Michael Sperling
The Rabbinic Citation Network

This article is the first academic attempt to apply quantitative methods of social network analysis to the Babylonian Talmud. We make three contributions. First, we introduce a digital methodology for finding and analyzing the citation chains in the Bavli. Second, we use our analysis to show the general characteristics of this network, which we find to be limited, densely connected, and centered around just a few rabbis at its center. Finally, we discuss three use cases that point toward further research that could throw light on the redactorial process of the Babylonian Talmud. This research lays the groundwork for much future work in applying quantitative methods to rabbinic texts.

Joshua Teplitsky
Imagined Immunities: Medieval Myths and Modern Histories of Jews and the Black Death

Epidemics were a part of early modern, and are still a part of modern, life. Yet, one catastrophic epidemic looms above others in popular historical thinking: the Black Death. A historical catastrophe, the Black Death carries a particular resonance in Jewish history, as the event provoked the outbreak of violence against Jewish communities across Europe and the massacre of Jews in large numbers. A popular reckoning of this episode suggests that Christians blamed Jews for the outbreak or spread of the plague on the belief that whereas Christians were perishing in droves, Jews had escaped the worst of the plague's lethal impact. Although the claim was without basis, in time writings by and for Jews came to accept the premise of Jewish resistance to plague, but they transvalued the meaning and memory of the Black Death persecutions from conspiratorial accusations to indications of Jewish prudence and sanitary behavior. Historical writing about Jews and the Black Death over the centuries—both frequently appearing yet limited in scope—reflects a history of both the changed political circumstances in which such writing was produced and the impact of advances in understandings of medical theory as it furnished authors with a structuring narrative about collective identity in the past.

Yosi Yisraeli
Jewish Echoes of Anti-Talmudic Literature: Revisiting “The Talmud in the Additiones of Paul of Burgos”.

This article revisits two Latin antitalmudic texts penned by the converted bishop of Burgos, Pablo de Santa María (c. 1352–1435). It argues, in contrast to previous assessments, that far from being a failed replica of Christian scholastic formulas, they echo the conversionist or "apostatic" argumentation that proselytes to Christianity were making in Jewish quarters, a polemic that was not shaped by a scholastic-inquisitorial perspective but rather was still very much rabbinic in style and methods. The article traces echoes of this intra-Jewish polemic, using the extraordinary corpus of Abner of Burgos (d. 1347). It focuses on three themes: the antirabbinic allusions to Zechariah's prophecy; the historical-hermeneutical brawl over the identity of Edom; and the notion of talmudic-demonic alliance. Evaluating the potential agency that Pablo's peculiar texts could have had among Christian readership, I propose that his critique of talmudic literature undermined important aspects of the Christian antitalmudic tradition, reframing the Talmud according to rabbinic conventions.

Sunny S. Yudkoff
The Joy of Joys: A Reception History of Leo Rosten’s Yiddish Lexicon

In November 1968, Leo Rosten published his best-selling lexicon, The Joys of Yiddish. The present essay traces the reception history of this iconic text, framing its analysis with the three Yiddish variations of "joy" that Rosten includes in his volume: naches, simcha, and mechaieh. These terms circumscribe both the positive and negative reception of his work, alternately highlighting the enthusiasm of devoted readers and fueling the ire of the most enraged. The paper further identifies moments in the reading history of Rosten's work when the wager of postvernacular Yiddish culture brushes up against the interpretive perspectives of Yiddish activists. Examining both the "joys" that Rosten includes and those he does not brings into relief the emotional goals and strategies of the volume and situates this paper in the emerging debates in Jewish studies concerning affect.

English Abstract of Hebrew Article

Asaf Yedidya
The Blessing “Who Has Not Made Me a Gentile” and Its Alternatives: The Evolution of One Blessing in German Jewish Space in the Nineteenth Century

This paper discusses the Jewish discourse on the blessing She-lo ʿAsani Goy (Who has not made me a gentile), which originated in Germany in the nineteenth century and reflects a Jewish attempt to bridge the gap between tradition and modernity. While liberal Jews omitted this blessing or changed it, some Orthodox Jews suggested making only modest changes to the wording of the blessing. Others objected to any changes, but gave new interpretations to the prayer in a manner that strengthened the Modern Orthodox stance. This analysis forms a case study of an ostensibly venerable tradition that is in reality a modern response to new challenges.


Book Reviews

Biblical Studies and Judaism in Antiquity

Joshua Barzel
Moshe Halbertal. The Birth of Doubt: Confronting Uncertainty in Early Rabbinic Literature

Daniel M. Herskowitz
Michael Fishbane. Fragile Finitude: A Jewish Hermeneutical Theology

Sara Milstein
Molly M. Zahn. Genres of Rewriting in Second Temple Judaism: Scribal Composition and Transmission

Madadh Richey
Idan Dershowitz. The Valediction of Moses: A Proto-Biblical Book

Malka Z. Simkovich
Ari Mermelstein. Power and Emotion in Ancient Judaism: Community and Identity in Formation

Daniel James Waller
Mika Ahuvia. On My Right Michael, On My Left Gabriel: Angels in Ancient Jewish Culture

Medieval and Early Modern Eras

Debra Kaplan
Ephraim Shoham-Steiner. Jews and Crime in Medieval Europe

Isabelle Levy
Ross Brann. Iberian Moorings: Al-Andalus, Sefarad, and the Tropes of Exceptionalism

Sara Lipton
M. Lindsay Kaplan. Figuring Racism in Medieval Christianity

Adam Teller
Debra Kaplan. The Patrons and Their Poor: Jewish Community and Public Charity in Early Modern Germany

Joshua Teplitsky
Adam Teller. Rescue the Surviving Souls: The Great Jewish Refugee Crisis of the Seventeenth Century

Modern Era

Monica Black
Brian E. Crim. Planet Auschwitz: Holocaust Representation in Science Fiction and Horror Film and Television

Jeremy Phillip Brown
Boaz Huss . Mystifying Kabbalah: Academic Scholarship, National Theology, and New Age Spirituality

Marc Caplan
Sheila E. Jelen. Salvage Poetics: Post-Holocaust American Jewish Folk Ethnographies

Nicolas de Warren
Daniel M. Herskowitz. Heidegger and His Jewish Reception

Cynthia Francis Gensheimer
Dvora Hacohen. To Repair a Broken World: The Life of Henrietta Szold, Founder of Hadassah

Atina Grossmann
Eliyana R. Adler. Survival on the Margins: Polish Jewish Refugees in the Wartime Soviet Union

Yael Halevi-Wise
Dalia Kandiyoti. The Converso’s Return: Conversion and Sephardi History in Contemporary Literature and Culture

Dalia Kandiyoti
Daniela Flesler and Adrián Pérez Melgosa. The Memory Work of Jewish Spain

Jessica Lang
Schneur Zalman Newfield. Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation while Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism

Andrea Lieber
Ayala Fader. Hidden Heretics: Jewish Doubt in the Digital Age

Chen Mandel-Edrei
Neta Stahl. The Divine in Modern Hebrew Literature

Adia Mendelson-Maoz
Yael Halevi-Wise. The Retrospective Imagination of A. B. Yehoshua

Jannis Panagiotidis
Gaëlle Fisher. Resettlers and Survivors: Bukovina and the Politics of Belonging in West Germany and Israel, 1945–1989

Sharon Portnoff
Kenneth Hart Green. The Philosophy of Emil Fackenheim: From Revelation to the Holocaust

Kenneth Seeskin
Martin Shuster. How to Measure a World? A Philosophy of Judaism

Zohar Segev
Jessica L. Carr. The Hebrew Orient, Palestine in Jewish American Visual Culture, 1901–1938

Elana Sztokman
Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz. Challenge and Conformity: The Religious Lives of Orthodox Jewish Women

Anna Elena Torres
Saul Noam Zaritt. Jewish American Writing and World Literature: Maybe to Millions, Maybe to Nobody

Nick Underwood
Julia Elsky. Writing Occupation: Jewish Émigré Voices in Wartime France

Hebrew Article

אסף ידידיה ברכת “שלא עשני גוי” וחלופותיה: לגלגוליה של ברכה אחת במרחב היהודי הגרמני במאה התשע עשרה .........................................................................................................................א-כ