Cover image for The Jewish cultural tapestry : international Jewish folk traditions
The Jewish cultural tapestry : international Jewish folk traditions
Lowenstein, Steven M., 1945-
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xviii, 270 pages : illustrations, maps, music ; 25 cm
Format :


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Material Type
Home Location
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DS112 .L76 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Here, in one compact volume, is an illuminating survey of Jewish folkways on five continents. Filled with fascinating facts and keen insights, The Jewish Cultural Tapestry is a richly woven fabric that vividly captures the diversity of Jewish life. All Jews are bound together by the common thread of the Torah and the Talmud, notes author Steven Lowenstein, but this thread takes on a different coloration in different parts of the world, as Jewish tradition and local non-Jewish customs intertwine. Lowenstein describes these widely varyingregional Jewish cultures with needlepoint accuracy, highlighting the often surprising similarities between Jewish and non-Jewish local traditions, and revealing why Jewish customs vary as much as they do from region to region. We visit the great Ashkenazic and Sephardic cultures of Europe and theMediterranean; the unique Jewish cultures of Iraq, Persia, Ethiopia and Yemen; the little-known cultures of the Bukharian Jews of Central Asia, the Cochin Jews of India, and the Kaifeng Jews of China. We read about regional religious practices, wedding ceremonies and marriage customs; differenttraditions of Jewish music and Jewish dress; and the origins of Jewish names. Lowenstein also surveys Jewish cuisine around the world, offering easy-to-prepare traditional recipes, ranging from kugel and blintzes to Malawach from Yemen, T'beet from Iraq, Mina de Cordero from Turkey, and PassoverSoup from Uzbekistan. From Europe to India, Israel to America, The Jewish Cultural Tapestry offers an engaging overview of the customs and folkways of a people united by tradition, yet scattered to the far corners of the earth. Packaged in an attractive large format, this beautifully illustrated volume would be ameaningful gift for the holidays.

Author Notes

Steven M. Lowenstein is Isadore Levine Professor of Jewish History at the University of Judaism. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

The Diaspora bred a multitude of customs among a very diverse world Jewish population. Eastern and Western, village, town, and, later, modern urbanized Jews maintained their distinct religious identities while shaping their lives under local conditions. What was the origin of particular customs? What impact did local language, food, and music, among other cultural phenomena, have on these Jewish populations? Lowenstein (Jewish history, Univ. of Judaism; The Berlin Jewish Community) has written a study of all forms of Jewish folk traditions, comparing and contrasting such customs as dress, food, music, religious rites, and life-cycle rituals. The richness of these various traditions makes this book a wonderful read and a primer on the diversity within the cohesive international Jewish community. An excellent choice for public and academic libraries.DIdelle Rudman, Touro Coll. Lib., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. xv
Folk Traditions: What Are They and Why Do They Vary Geographically?p. 1
Regional Cultures: From Jerusalem to Spain, Poland, and Morocco: The Influence of Jewish Migrationsp. 11
Jewish Languages: Similarities and Differencesp. 49
Names: What They Mean and How They Developedp. 69
Religious Practice: How the Written Tradition Unites and the Oral Tradition Dividesp. 85
Cuisine: Gefilte Fish and Cholent Meet Malawach and Couscousp. 119
Costume: Not Just a Long Black Coatp. 149
Music: The Religious and the Secularp. 175
Appearance and Ancestry: "Funny, You Don't Look Jewish"p. 197
Modernity and the Tradition: What Has Modernity Done to Jewish Folk Cultures?p. 229
Suggestions for Further Readingp. 247
Creditsp. 253
Indexp. 261