Encyclopedia of Jewish American Popular Culture

Encyclopedia of Jewish American Popular Culture

Encyclopedia of Jewish American Popular Culture

Encyclopedia of Jewish American Popular Culture

Synopsis

This unique encyclopedia chronicles American Jewish popular culture, past and present in music, art, food, religion, literature, and more. Over 150 entries, written by scholars in the field, highlight topics ranging from animation and comics to Hollywood and pop psychology.

Excerpt

The Encyclopedia of Jewish American Popular Culture provides over 250 entries on the Jewish contribution to popular culture in America. The encyclopedia is divided between a series of comprehensive essays on subjects such as artists, film, drama, music in its many different formats, vaudeville, radio, television, and many other areas where Jews have made their contribution to the overall American experience. These essays provide an “overview” of a particular subject, and shorter entries provide a snapshot of a noteworthy personality or event. In choosing the entries, we have attempted to balance the past history of Jewish popular culture in America with noteworthy entries that reflect contemporary Jewish contributions. Admittedly, the choice of entries is subjective, but we have attempted to imagine what the reader would expect to find in perusing the volume and have weighed these expectations with an effort to balance the past with the present. Although the reader will find less about Jewish religious culture than secular, the process of selection recognizes that although a Woody Allen or Lenny Bruce have greater name recognition than that of Shlomo Carlebach, both have made important contributions to overall culture. Balancing religious contributions with secular ones is never an easy task, and it would be remiss not to include places for an Abraham Joshua Heschel or Elie Wiesel, alongside that of more secular popular culture figures such as Bob Dylan and Barbra Streisand. In the case of religious personalities and popular entertainers, we selected entries that struck us as culturally important—likely to remain important for the foreseeable future—and, wherever possible, as reflecting their “Jewishness.”

We attempted to include those topics that general readers would expect to find in such a work, but we also tried to include important aspects of Jewish culture that might not be familiar. As we distance ourselves from the generation of immigrant Jews who arrived in the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, we acknowledge the cultural influences they brought with them, which both entertained and informed them about the new world they were in. We have not forgotten this aspect of the Jewish contribution to American cultural life, so the reader will also find essays on aspects of Yiddish culture in America: film, the stage, and the language itself. Many personalities from the Yiddish-speaking world were either influenced by or graduated from their environment to make important contributions to the general American culture. Indeed, one may argue that the unique contribution of American . . .

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