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A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew and by Naomi Seidman

By Naomi Seidman

With remarkably unique formulations, Naomi Seidman examines the ways in which Hebrew, the Holy Tongue, and Yiddish, the vernacular language of Ashkenazic Jews, got here to symbolize the masculine and female faces, respectively, of Ashkenazic Jewish tradition. Her subtle heritage is the 1st book-length exploration of the sexual politics underlying the "marriage" of Hebrew and Yiddish, and it has profound implications for knowing the centrality of language offerings and ideologies within the building of recent Jewish identification. Seidman really examines this sexual-linguistic process because it formed the paintings of 2 bilingual authors, S.Y. Abramovitsh, the "grand-father" of recent Hebrew and Yiddish literature; and Dvora Baron, the 1st sleek lady author in Hebrew (and a author in Yiddish as well). She additionally offers an research of the jobs that Hebrew "masculinity" and Yiddish "femininity" performed within the Hebrew-Yiddish language wars, the divorce that finally ended the wedding among the languages.
Theorists have lengthy debated the function of parents within the child's dating to language. Seidman offers the Ashkenazic case as an illuminating instance of a society within which "mother tongue" and "father tongue" are essentially differentiated. Her paintings speaks to special matters in modern scholarship, together with the psychoanalysis of language acquisition, the feminist critique of Zionism, and the nexus of women's experiences and Yiddish literary background.

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Additional resources for A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew and Yiddish (Contraversions: Critical Studies in Jewish Literature, Culture, and Society)

Sample text

Abramovitsh makes an elaborate joke here about Hebrew, Yiddish, and comparative masculinity. If the Yiddish writer considers himself sexually Copynghted matenal 44 I A Marriage Made in Heaven inferior to his Hebrew "brother," as Abramovitsh seems to imply, then to choose Yiddish as a literary language is to throw one's sexual or gender identity into anxious question. It is a sign of the new importance of authorship in Jewish literature that Abramovitsh was repeatedly implored to supply his readers and critics with autobiographical sketches.

As the cartoon of Hebrew standing on Yiddish's back demonstrates, communities are capable of radical transvaluations: the Yiddishist movements of the early twentieth century are an example of concerted resistance to received cultural hierarchies, in this case, the hierarchical structure of traditional Hebrew-Yiddish relations. Yiddishist ideology brought with it not only a transvaluation of this system but also a critique of its assumptions, recognizing, for instance, that the position of "high culture"- embodied in the Hebrew bully of the cartoon-could be read as a reflector of institutional power rather than as a measure of objective cultural worth.

She isn't trying to create a scene, the cartoonist implies; Yiddish holds her son back, and attempts to placate the annoyed and snobbish Hebrew. "No, It's a Legitimate [or "right") Love Affair," the cartoon is entitled. The dialogue is provided underneath: Copynghted matenal Engendering Audiences I HEBREW: Who's that, Chayim Nachman, an illegitimate (or "left"] love? YIDDISH: Don't get upset, madame, Chayim Nachman knows me since he was a child! 33 The cartoon presents visual dues to differentiate the two types of women/languages: the biblical headdress for Hebrew, the apron for Yiddish.

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