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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 ...
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 varying regional 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 the Mediterranean; 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; different traditions 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 Passover Soup 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 a meaningful gift for the holidays.
About the Author:
Steven M. Lowenstein is Isadore Levine Professor of Jewish History at the University of Judaism. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
|Folk Traditions: What Are They and Why Do They Vary Geographically?||1|
|Regional Cultures: From Jerusalem to Spain, Poland, and Morocco: The Influence of Jewish Migrations||11|
|Jewish Languages: Similarities and Differences||49|
|Names: What They Mean and How They Developed||69|
|Religious Practice: How the Written Tradition Unites and the Oral Tradition Divides||85|
|Cuisine: Gefilte Fish and Cholent Meet Malawach and Couscous||119|
|Costume: Not Just a Long Black Coat||149|
|Music: The Religious and the Secular||175|
|Appearance and Ancestry: "Funny, You Don't Look Jewish"||197|
|Modernity and the Tradition: What Has Modernity Done to Jewish Folk Cultures?||229|
|Suggestions for Further Reading||247|
Posted May 16, 2001
Finally a book is available for the Jewish and non-Jewish reader that explains both the common thread and the differences of Jewish customs throughout the world. Clearly the author has a strong scholarly background, but this book is a lively read. Especially fascinating are the chapters on vernacular languages, cuisine (with recipes), music (with notations), and the new field of genetics. The author treats each custom with equal respect; nothing is described as being weird or exotic. Numerous action maps explain migrations and cultural changes, and the many illustrations of actual people add to the accessibility of this usually dry subject. It is a must for personal, synagogue, and secular libraries.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.