A Jew's Best Friend?: The Image of the Dog Throughout Jewish History

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9781845194024: A Jew's Best Friend?: The Image of the Dog Throughout Jewish History
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From antiquity to the contemporary period, the dog has captured the Jewish imagination. In medieval Christendom, the image of the dog was often used to characterize and demean Jewish populations. 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. This book 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 book's contributors provide a unique cross-cultural, trans-national, diachronic perspective. An important theme in the book 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.

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About the Author:

Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman is an assistant professor in the program in Jewish studies at Vanderbilt University. An expert in Jewish and Islamic law, his most recent work has been as section editor for the Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Rakefet Zalashik is a visiting fellow in the Corcoran department of history at the University of Virginia, as well as Wurttemberg guest chair in Israel, and near Eastern studies at the University of Heidelberg.

Review:

“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, 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.”  —Glenn Yago, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Milken Institute, Los Angeles

“Original and learned, this collection of studies provides a fascinating insight into a hitherto unexplored dimension of Jewish life.”  —Dan Cohn-Sherbok, University of Wales

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9781845194017: A Jew's Best Friend?: The Image of the Dog Throughout Jewish History

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