A Treasury of American-Jewish Folklore

A Treasury of American-Jewish Folklore

by Steve Koppman, Lion Koppman

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The Koppmans have compiled a wonderfully diverse collection of folklore covering 340 years of the American-Jewish experience. In their introduction, they point out that American-Jewish folklore is unusual because it contains no tales about animals, witches, ghosts or devils. Instead, it is composed of anecdotes, superstitions, eccentric characters and folk humor. The Koppmans have included examples of folklore lampooning the ignorance of non-Jews, who thought Jews were physically different from themselves. The book is well organized, beginning with the lore surrounding Jewish peddlers in the American West and moving to the tales told and collected by European Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side of New York. The collection includes tales about Jewish celebrities like Houdini, George Jessel and George Burns; a glossary of Yiddish expressions; a section of classic American-Jewish humor; and an extensive bibliography of the sources of American-Jewish folklore. The Koppmans have produced an entertaining and valuable anthology that illustrates the positive and negative aspects of the American-Jewish experience through the use of humor. (Feb.)
Library Journal
This large work is a compendium of stories, anecdotes, recollections, stylings, jokes, beliefs, superstitions, customs, and songs of the Jewish experience in America told by the Koppmans, both folklorists. Many of these entries have a humorous turn, recalling the successful Big Book of Jewish Humor (1981). The imaginative stories generally cover no more than a half page. The most intriguing tales are about famous Jewish personalities such as Houdini, Rabbi Stephen Wise, and even the great baseball player Hank Greenberg. And readers are sure to enjoy such hilarious entries as "Pocahontas, Yiddish Version." Although there is a short bibliography, there are no attributions of sources. The nature of folklore might preclude such attributions, but it would make for excellent follow-up reading on some of the outlandish tales told. The book will hardly be the final word on the subject, but it is a good beginning. A welcome addition to most library folklore collections.-Paul Kaplan, Lake Villa District Library, Ill.

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Aronson, Jason Inc.
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