Academic journal article Western Folklore

Encyclopedia of Jewish Folklore and Traditions

Academic journal article Western Folklore

Encyclopedia of Jewish Folklore and Traditions

Article excerpt

Encyclopedia of Jewish Folklore and Traditions. Edited by Raphael Patai and Haya Bar-Itzhak. (Armonk, N.Y. and London: M.E. Sharpe, 2013. Pp. xvi + 680. Two volumes, introduction, photographs, appendices, index. $299.00 cloth.)

The Encyclopedia of Jewish Folklore and Traditions is the longoverdue labor of love of the late, renowned scholar Raphael Patai, completed by his successor Haya Bar-Itzhak. As could be expected it brings together a valuable set of discussions about topics related to Jewish traditional culture written by a large group of international scholars. The subjects range from different genres of oral traditions such as proverbs, to material culture such as ketuboth or marriage contracts, to holiday and life cycle celebrations such as Purim and bar mizvah. Entries also include biographies of varying lengths of noted collectors and scholars of Jewish expressive culture. In addition, articles about Jewish communities around the world - from the Jews of Greece, Georgia, and Germany to the Jews of Spain, Turkey and the United States - with emphasis on the rich and distinct cultural traditions of each are included. Each entry is followed by a bibliography, leading readers to the primary sources.

Overall, this long-awaited compendium is excellent. It brings together a broad range of information and material in one location along with valuable bibliographies to guide readers to other sources, as an encyclopedia should. The articles are richly illustrated with black and white photographs. In addition, a number of color photos are included. The two-volume set is closed with several valuable appendices covering such bodies of work as Rabbinic literature, Medieval compilations and anthologies of Jewish folklore. …

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