By Naomi Seidman
With remarkably unique formulations, Naomi Seidman examines the ways in which Hebrew, the Holy Tongue, and Yiddish, the vernacular language of Ashkenazic Jews, got here to symbolize the masculine and female faces, respectively, of Ashkenazic Jewish tradition. Her refined historical past is the 1st book-length exploration of the sexual politics underlying the "marriage" of Hebrew and Yiddish, and it has profound implications for figuring out the centrality of language offerings and ideologies within the building of recent Jewish identity.Seidman quite examines this sexual-linguistic process because it formed the paintings of 2 bilingual authors, S.Y. Abramovitsh, the "grand-father" of contemporary Hebrew and Yiddish literature; and Dvora Baron, the 1st glossy lady author in Hebrew (and a author in Yiddish as well). She additionally offers an research of the jobs that Hebrew "masculinity" and Yiddish "femininity" performed within the Hebrew-Yiddish language wars, the divorce that eventually ended the wedding among the languages.Theorists have lengthy debated the position of dad and mom within the kid's courting to language. Seidman offers the Ashkenazic case as an illuminating instance of a society during which "mother tongue" and "father tongue" are essentially differentiated. Her paintings speaks to big matters in modern scholarship, together with the psychoanalysis of language acquisition, the feminist critique of Zionism, and the nexus of women's stories and Yiddish literary historical past.
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Additional info for A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew and Yiddish (Contraversions, 7)
Yiddish is illegitimate because she is "foreign," presumably an allusion to the language's German roots. " Abramovitsh evokes the familiar biblical topos that figures the Jewish people as a woman, or, more specifically, as God's lover or bride; this topos is flexible enough to describe the sinning people of Israel as a prostitute, or the defeated people of Israel as a widow. The passage reinforces the equation of the feminized Yiddish language and Jewish people in expressing pity for Yiddish as the "unpitied daughter," a citation of Hosea's mirroring of God's relationship with Israel by marrying and "redeeming" a prostitute.
And although "The Tip of the Yod" begins by addressing the masses of Jewish women, the title is a talmudic citation unrecognizable to a woman unschooled in traditional Hebrew texts. The desire to attract women readers to Hebrew was not just a matter of increasing the Hebrew audience, or educating women in Enlightenment values. To participate fully in the European belletristic tradition meant writing heterosexually, both in content and by addressing women as well as men. As Abramovitsh is said to have commented to the critic Yosef Klausner, "a writer-artist wants to be petted by a seventeen-yearold girl; and seventeen-year-old girls who read Hebrew were non-existent then.
To complicate the problem, "modernity" swept over Jewish communities in waves, taking different forms in the lives of specific individuals widely separated in time and space. im of educating the masses in general, still found themselves addressing a primarily female audience as late as the last few decades of the nineteenth century. Reversing the sixteenth-century project of translating Hebrew texts into Yiddish so Jewish women would not be tempted to read German literature, Yiddish literature was now used to draw Jewish women, and their husbands, toward the secular sphere.
A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew and Yiddish (Contraversions, 7) by Naomi Seidman