“The Other in Jewish Thought and History: Constructions of Jewish Culture and Identity” edited by Lawrence Silberstein and Robert L. Cohn— Defining Others and Ourselves


Silberstein, Lawrence J. and Robert L. Cohn, editors. “The Other in Jewish Thought and History: Constructions of Jewish Culture and Identity”, (New Perspectives on Jewish Studies), NYU Press, 1994.

Defining Others and Ourselves

Amos Lassen

Granted this is not a new book but it is still relevant today due to the way it looks at cultural boundaries and group identity are often forged in relation to the Other. In every society there are conceptions of otherness and these often reflect a group’s fears and vulnerabilities and result in deep-rooted traditions of inclusion and exclusion that permeate the culture’s literature, religion, and politics. Here we see the ways that Jews have traditionally defined other groups and, in turn, themselves. The contributors are a distinguished international scholars who explore the discursive processes through which Jewish identity and culture have been constructed, disseminated, and perpetuated.

Some of the topics addressed are: Others in the biblical world; the construction of gender in Roman-period Judaism; the Other as woman in the Greco-Roman world; the gentile as Other in rabbinic law; the feminine as Other in kabbalah; the reproduction of the Other in the Passover Haggadah; the Palestinian Arab as Other in Israeli politics and literature; the Other in Levinas and Derrida; Blacks as Other in American Jewish literature; the Jewish body image as symbol of Otherness; and women as Other in Israeli cinema.

Contributors to this interdisciplinary volume are: Jonathan Boyarin (New School for Social Research), Robert L. Cohn (Lafayette College), Gerald Cromer (Bar-Ilan University), Trude Dothan (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Elizabeth Fifer (Lehigh University), Steven D. Fraade (Yale University), Sander L. Gilman (Cornell University), Hannan Hever (Tel Aviv University), Ross S. Kraemer (University of Pennsylvania), Orly Lubin (Tel Aviv University), Peter Machinist (Harvard University), Jacob Meskin (Williams College), Adi Ophir (Tel Aviv University), Ilan Peleg (Lafayette College), Miriam Peskowitz (University of Florida), Laurence J. Silberstein (Lehigh University), Naomi Sokoloff (University of Washington), and Elliot R. Wolfson (New York University).

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