Passing For Jewish: How Jews Are Represented In Literature And Life

Dec 3, 2019
Originally published on December 3, 2019 2:24 pm

What does it mean to be Jewish in America? For some it is the observance of particular high holy days, while for others it is much more of a cultural identity than a religious one.

Scholar and writer Judith Ruderman has spent a lot of time thinking about this question, and in her new book she turns to literature for an answer. Ruderman interrogates the strategies Jews have used throughout history to “pass.” From exploring the role of nose jobs and name changes to the battle of assimilation versus cultural appropriation, she reveals the complexity of Jewish American identity at a time when attacks against Jews are on the rise. Host Frank Stasio talks with Ruderman, former vice provost and adjunct professor at Duke University, about the research behind “Passing Fancies In Jewish American Literature And Culture” (Indiana University Press/2019).

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