Exploring Semitic feelings

Devorah Baum draws on pop culture and psychoanalysts to contend with Jewish stereotypes and emotions

By GLENN C. ALTSCHULER
November 22, 2017 19:29
4 minute read.
THE AUTHOR says we should embrace ‘feeling split’ feelings and identities.

THE AUTHOR says we should embrace ‘feeling split’ feelings and identities.. (photo credit: TNS)

 
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Historian Yuri Slezkine once declared that “the Modern Age is the Jewish Age... Modernization is about everyone becoming urban, mobile, literate, articulate, intellectually intricate, physically fastidious, and occupationally flexible.” Not entirely insiders or outsiders, and feeling, at times, threatened, Slezkine adds, Jews can be considered “model moderns.”

In Feeling Jewish (A Book for Just About Anyone), Devorah Baum, a lecturer in English literature at the University of Southampton, applies this claim to seven prevalent stereotypes about the emotional excesses of Jews: self-hatred; envy; guilt; hysteria; paranoia, mother love; inauthenticity. Although Jewishness animates her analysis, she demonstrates that lots of people share these feelings.

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