Benjamin Disraeli: The Fabricated Jew in Myth and Memory

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This book utilizes previously ignored or little known sources to provide new insights into how one of the most famous Jewish converts was viewed by the Jewish community he ignored and by the larger Christian world that would not accept him. Although Benjamin Disraeli was baptized prior to his thirteenth birthday, he could not escape his origins. Labeled as a 'Jew Scamp' by his detractors when he entered the political arena, he exploited his background to demonstrate the nobility of his ancient race and the superiority of his ancestral origins over those of his opponents. Rather than deny his roots, he chose to make them an integral part of his mystique. Though Disraeli's support of Jewish causes was problematic, his growing prominence attracted the attention of Anglo-Jewry who needed a hero to validate their own Englishness. Gradually, in spite of his baptism, they accepted him as a true representative of their faith and culture. Ultimately, a diverse group used and abused his achievements for their own purposes both during and especially after his lifetime. Zionists, Victorian racists, mid-twentieth century Nazis, Jewish apologists, and present day hate-mongers found abundant material in his novels to support their causes. This book shows how a myth can take on a life of its own in the collective memory of the Jewish people, as well as in the thought processes of a variety of anti-Semitic groups. Its fresh approach to the life and lore of a colorful Victorian figure also raises the issue of ethnic identity and minority acceptance in our pluralistic society.

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Editorial Reviews

Conservative Judaism
Students of modern Jewish historiography are in Bernard Glassman's debt for the other illuminating feature of this work: his tracing the imaginary legacy and idealized image of Benjamin Disraeli born following his death.
— Harvey Meirovich
Dr. Todd Endelman
Having found a trove of material about the place of Benjamin Disraeli in the popular imagination, Bernard Glassman tell the intriguing story of how British Jewry came to celebrate the achievements of this former Jew turned Anglican as the highest expression of the Jewish spirit.
Dr. Andrew Horn
Dr. Glassman's is an imaginatively researched and engagingly readable account of one of the most complexly overdetermined cultural constructions in modern Jewish history- Benjamin Disraeli. . . Dr. Glassman here enters exciting and often bizarre territory, and makes a significant contribution not only to the study of anti-Semitism and Victorian Jewry, but to an understanding of the uses and processes- the selectivity and transmutations- memory, mythopoeia and popular historiography.
Conservative Judaism - Harvey Meirovich
Students of modern Jewish historiography are in Bernard Glassman's debt for the other illuminating feature of this work: his tracing the imaginary legacy and idealized image of Benjamin Disraeli born following his death.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761824725
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 12/17/2002
  • Series: Studies in the History of Judaism Series
  • Pages: 262
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Bernard Glassman is Visiting Professor of History, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and Book Review Editor for Conservative Judaism Quarterly. He is researching Anglo-Jewish history at Harvard University.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Preface Chapter 2 Nineteenth Century Backgrounds: Victorian Religion; Victorian "Others"; Race in Victorian England Chapter 3 The Jewish Community in the Age of Disraeli: The Origins and Development of the Jewish Community; Jewish Otherness and Englishness; The Missionary Challenge; Jewish Disabilities; Jews and Politics; Jewish Responses to Anti-Semitism Chapter 4 "Youth is a Blunder: Manhood is a Struggle: Old Age is a Regret:" Youth is a Blunder: Baptism; Disraeli's Jewishness; Romantic Notions of a Restored Zion; Manhood is a Struggle: Disraeli and the Jewish Community; Disraeli's Racial Judaism; Disraeli' Chapter 5 Life After Death: Eulogies and Memorials; Bringing Disraeli into the Jewish Fold; The Disraeli Centenary; The Beaconsfield Jubilee and other Milestones; Disraeli as a Role Model in Juvenile Literature and Popular History; Disraeli in Fiction and the Chapter 6 The Use and Abuse of Disraeli's Legacy: "All is Race"; Disraeli: The Proto-Zionist; The New Anti-Semitism; The Protocols of the Elders of Zion; The 1930s: Disraeli and the Rise of the Nazi Party; Disraeli: Ethnic Cheerleading and Anti-Defamati Chapter 7 Conclusions Chapter 8 Bibliography Chapter 9 Chronology of Benjamin Disraeli Chapter 10 Index Chapter 11 About the Author

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