Jewish Families

Jewish Families

JONATHAN BOYARIN
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 206
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hjcgn
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  • Book Info
    Jewish Families
    Book Description:

    From stories of biblical patriarchs and matriarchs and their children, through the Gospel's Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and to modern Jewish families in fiction, film, and everyday life, the family has been considered key to transmitting Jewish identity. Current discussions about the Jewish family's supposed traditional character and its alleged contemporary crisis tend to assume that the dynamics of Jewish family life have remained constant from the days of Abraham and Sarah to those of Tevye and Golde inFiddler on the Roofand on to Philip Roth'sPortnoy's Complaint.Jonathan Boyarin explores a wide range of scholarship in Jewish studies to argue instead that Jewish family forms and ideologies have varied greatly throughout the times and places where Jewish families have found themselves. He considers a range of family configurations from biblical times to the twenty-first century, including strictly Orthodox communities and new forms of family, including same-sex parents. The book shows the vast canvas of history and culture as well as the social pressures and strategies that have helped shape Jewish families, and suggests productive ways to think about possible futures for Jewish family forms.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-6293-3
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Andrew Bush, Deborah Dash Moore and MacDonald Moore

    The Rutgers book series Key Words in Jewish Studies seeks to introduce students and scholars alike to vigorous developments in the field by exploring its terms. These words and phrases reference important concepts, issues, practices, events, and circumstances. But terms also refer to standards, even to preconditions; they patrol the boundaries of the field of Jewish studies. This series aims to transform outsiders into insiders and let insiders gain new perspectives on usages, some of which shift even as we apply them.

    Key words mutate through repetition, suppression, amplification, and competitive sharing. Jewish studies finds itself attending to such processes...

  4. Preface: Doing the Jewish Family
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    We usually think we know what families are. After all, for better and for worse, we all grow up in one, and even in the rare case that one of us hasn’t, we (and she) generally assume that we know what she missed: a male father, a female mother, a sibling or more of assorted sexes and genders.¹ When we’re being a bit more reflective, we further specify this set of parents and children as the “nuclear” family, and we recognize that its boundaries reach further into what we call the “extended” family—including grandparents and the new lives who,...

  6. 1 Terms of Debate
    (pp. 17-62)

    Glance back, for a moment, to the epigraph to this book—the first quotation from the Tractate Sanhedrin of the Babylonian Talmud about the creation of the human in the singular. I cited it there as a “quote without comment,” figuring that it could stand on its own as testimony to ancient recognition that families don’t always work the way they’re supposed to. But this brief citation bears much interpretation. It points to a contrast between the creation of humankind and the creation of all other animals: “the beast of the earth after its kind, and the cattle after their...

  7. 2 State of the Question
    (pp. 63-110)

    In the aftermath of the Nazi genocide, the Yiddish poet Moshe Szulsztejn wrote: “Es veln nisht feln/di nemen nokh vemen [There will be no lack/Of those to name after].” This deceptively simple couplet—da DA da da DA da/da DA da da DA da—is a reminder that for some time to come at least, Jewish generations will have been depleted, rather than perpetuated—that there will be more ancestors than descendants. Yet for any number of reasons—only some of which have to do with Jewishness—some Jewish families have many children, others few or none. Szulsztejn’s assertion certainly...

  8. 3 In a New Key
    (pp. 111-162)

    This is the last chapter, but only of this book: its goal is to make you wonder, learn more, and perhaps even think of doing research like the scholars you’ve been meeting in these pages. To cite what is admittedly quite an “un-Jewish” image, it’s just too tempting to say that this chapter cannot help but be Janus-faced, looking simultaneously toward the future and toward the past, like that Roman god of doorways, of beginnings and endings. As we’ve seen, scholars who write about the Jewish family in the past make their studies contemporary in various ways—most prominently, dedicating...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 163-164)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 165-172)
  11. Index
    (pp. 173-186)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 187-188)