What is Jewish Literature?

In her last post, Ellen Frankel looked at how to make the Bible PG. She is guest-blogging all week for MyJewishLearning and JBC.

What is Jewish literature? Continue reading here.

9 responses to “What is Jewish Literature?

  1. Having visited many Jewish libraries and personally owning thousands of books by Jewish authors, perhaps I can speak on this subject. What I think should be celebrated by Jews and by Gentiles is the incredible range and depth and scope of books written by Jewish authors. I have the greatest respect and appreciation of authors like Amos Oz and Aharon Appelfeld. However, there are also great writers such as Michael Chabon, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Aaron Hamburger. There is the scholarly work of Sir Martin Gilbert and Jacob Neusner. That does not mean there is no room for books on Jewish sports heroes and film stars.

    I really enjoy reading Gilbert and Neusner and Oz and Appelfeld. I also enjoy Cynthia Ozick and Wendy Wasserstein and Tony Kushner. Does the fact that Kushner and Hamburger are gay preclude them from having something to say about the Jewish experience? Or is it simply the fact that to be considered Jewish enough that the book has to be very serious? Are only books on Jewish history, culture, and the Shoah worthy of being in a Jewish library, whether they are fiction or true stories?

    I truly enjoy visiting Jewish libraries. Yet I often find myself the only one inside other than the librarian. The shelves are filled with the most serious tomes. It is as if Jews are not allowed to laugh and enjoy themselves. Yet some of the world’s greatest humorists have been Jews. Is there a place in the world for a Jewish library that celebrates the serious, the intellectual, the humor, the history, culture, and every dimension of book which Jews have produced?

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