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 subtle background 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 development of recent Jewish identity.Seidman quite examines this sexual-linguistic method because it formed the paintings of 2 bilingual authors, S.Y. Abramovitsh, the "grand-father" of recent Hebrew and Yiddish literature; and Dvora Baron, the 1st sleek lady author in Hebrew (and a author in Yiddish as well). She additionally presents an research of the jobs that Hebrew "masculinity" and Yiddish "femininity" performed within the Hebrew-Yiddish language wars, the divorce that finally ended the wedding among the languages.Theorists have lengthy debated the position of dad and mom within the kid's courting to language. Seidman provides the Ashkenazic case as an illuminating instance of a society during which "mother tongue" and "father tongue" are in actual fact differentiated. Her paintings speaks to special concerns in modern scholarship, together with the psychoanalysis of language acquisition, the feminist critique of Zionism, and the nexus of women's reports and Yiddish literary heritage.
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Extra resources for A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew and Yiddish (Contraversions, 7)
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.
The ways in which Hebrew-Yiddish relations conformed simultaneously to both a gender and an economic hierarchy are illuminated in a passage in Chaim Grade's My Mother's Sabbaths. Blumele, reading aloud to her sick husband from a popular bilingual ethical text with the Hebrew above- and Yiddish below, is reminded of her work as a small produce seller. Her small shriveled head is buried in the large, yellowing pages, which are separated into two by a black line. Above is the Loshn-koydesh, beneath is the ivre-taytsh.
In Abramovitsh's description of his move to Yiddish, the difficulty of choosing a language tainted by its female audience is conflated with the choice of a language itself depicted as a debased female. " 7 Abramovitsh's tracing of his course from Hebrew to Yiddish combines with his apparent fondness for sexual/linguistic metaphor to produce an astonishingly intricate inquiry into the psychosexual dynamics of language choice. In an introduction to his early Hebrew work on natural history, Abramovitsh sang the praises of Hebrew in conventional terms, personifying the language as his beloved mistress whom he adorned with his prose.
A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew and Yiddish (Contraversions, 7) by Naomi Seidman