Jewish American literature makes aliyah? Jewish/non-Jewish boundary maintenance and the Israeli approach to the Diaspora

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Abstract

This paper analyzes the ideological ambivalence inherent in the critical reception of Jewish American literature in Israel from the late 1950s through the 1980s. On the one hand, there was a tendency in Israeli literary discourse to particularize and “Judaize” universal aspects of works by Jewish American authors and to take pride in their literary achievements, generally exhibiting an affinity to diaspora Jewish culture. On the other hand, there was also a tendency to (over)emphasize the difficulty of living as a Jew in a non-Jewish world, from both a spiritual and intellectual standpoint and a physical and social one, in a way that bolstered Israeli sovereignty as the only true solution for contemporary Jewish existence. This dialectical Israeli perception of American Jewish culture entailed both inclusivity and dismissal, implied both communal affinity and unequal hierarchy, and may be emblematic of the dual nature of the Israeli approach to diaspora existence in general.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-159
Number of pages32
JournalJewish Social Studies
Volume23
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2018

RAMBI Publications

  • RAMBI Publications
  • American fiction -- Jewish authors -- 20th century -- History and criticism
  • American fiction -- Jewish authors -- Appreciation -- Israel
  • Jewish authors -- United States
  • Jews -- United States -- Identity
  • Jewish diaspora in literature
  • Israel and the diaspora

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