Excellence in Scholarship and Learning
A Jew’s Best Friend?
The Image of the Dog throughout Jewish History
The dog has captured the Jewish
imagination from antiquity to the contemporary period, with the
image of the dog often used to characterize and demean Jewish populations
in medieval Christendom. In the interwar period, dogs were still
considered goyishe nakhes (‘a gentile pleasure’) and virtually
unheard of in the Jewish homes of the shtetl. Yet, Azit
the Paratrooping Dog of modern Israeli cinema, one of many examples
of dogs as heroes of the Zionist narrative, demonstrates that the
dog has captured the contemporary Jewish imagination.
A Jew’s Best Friend? The Image of the Dog throughout Jewish History discusses specific cultural manifestations of the relationship between dogs and Jews, from ancient times to the present. Covering a geographical range extending from the Middle East through Europe and to North America, the contributors – all of whom are senior university scholars specializing in various disciplines – provide a unique cross-cultural, trans-national, diachronic perspective. An important theme is the constant tension between domination/control and partnership which underpins the relationship of humans to animals, as well as the connection between Jewish societies and their broader host cultures.
A public increasingly interested in cultural history in general and Jewish history in particular will benefit from the diverse perspectives provided herein. One need look no further than the popular media surrounding President Obama’s choice of a canine companion: dog-owners and dog-lovers, and all those involved at university level with cultural studies, can deepen their understanding of the human–canine relationship by reading this volume.
|Hardback Price:||£55.00 / $65.00|
|Release Date:||February 2013|
|Paperback Price:||£22.50 / $34.95|
|Release Date:||February 2013|
|Page Extent / Format:||304 pp. / 229 x 152 mm|
Rakefet Zalashik and Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman, “Introduction”
Meir Edrey, “Dog Cult in Persian Period Judea”
Sophia Menache, “From Unclean Species to Man’s Best Friend–Dogs in the Biblical, Mishnah, and Talmud Periods”
Joshua Schwartz, “Good Dog-Bad Dog: Jews and Their Dogs in Ancient Jewish Society”
Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman, “Uncultured, Uncontrolled, and Untrustworthy—Yet Protective and Productive! The Dog in the Mindset of the Jews of Medieval Islam”
Kenneth Stow: “The Bread, the Children, and the Dogs”
Robert A. Rothstein, “‘If a Jew Has a Dog…’: Dogs in Yiddish Proverbs”
Susan M. Kahn, “Rudolphina Menzel: The First Zionist Dog Trainer”
Uri Cohen, “Only Yesterday: A Hebrew Dog and the Colonial Dynamics in Pre-Mandate Palestine”
Rakefet Zalashik, “An Israeli Heroine: ‘Azit the Canine Paratrooper”
Iftah Biran, “Adam Resurrected: A Dog’s Journey from the Circus to the Asylum through the Concentration Camp”
Aubrey Glazer, “Taking the circumcised dog by the throat: A Critical Review of Contemporary Rituals for Dogs in America”
Katharine Baker and Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman,
“Teaching the Jews and the Dog: A Pedagogical Essay”
A Jew's Best Friend? brilliantly documents the way Jews have imagined dogs and in so doing imagined what it means to be a human, a Jew, and an Israeli. A substantial contribution to both Jewish studies and animal studies, the text will be valuable both to research scholars and as an engaging resource for teaching undergraduates about the diverse experience of Jews throughout history.
Aaron Gross, Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, The University of San Diego
This unique, fascinating, and
entertaining book is a must read. Evolutionary biologists,
archaeologists, and paleontologists have long argued that
our four-legged friends played a key role in human survival.
Dogs developed a unique genius for sensing human intentions
as the interplay between handler and hound shaped canine behavior
and our own. Now Ackerman-Lieberman and Zalashik offer research
that provides the historical detail, scholarly stamina, textual
analysis, and captivating stories that detail the sometimes
ambivalent, but always important role of canines in Jewish
history and cultural heritage. From the Exodus through the
First and Second Temple periods on to the Diaspora and back
to modern Israel, this volume guides the reader by blending
cultural, natural, literary and intellectual history that
entertains as it educates us about a largely unexplored, unexpected
and underappreciated chapter of inter-species co-evolution
and the remarkable epic of Jewish history.
Glenn Yago, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and The Milken Institute, Los Angeles
On the one hand, traditionally Jews have
expressed hostility toward the dog population; this is expressed
in a range of classical Jewish sources. However, at the same
time there have been ties of mutual affection and nurturing
between Jews and dogs. The range of essays in this volume
includes such topics as dogs in the biblical, mishnaic and
talmudic periods, the dog in the mindset of the Jews of medieval
Islam, and dogs in Yiddish proverbs. Original and learned,
this collection of studies provides a fascinating insight
into a hitherto unexplored dimension of Jewish life.
Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Emeritus Professor of Judaism, The University of Wales
Reviewed in The Forward Newspaper, by Benjamin Ivry:
Reviewed in Princeton Alumni Weekly:
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