Translated from Hebrew by Chaya Naor;
“Ram Ben-Shalom offers a detailed analysis of the extent of Jews’ exposure to the history of those with whom they lived, and of how they expressed their historical consciousness in encountering them in different contexts. He shows that the Jews in these southern European lands experienced a relatively open society that was sensitive to and knowledgeable about voices from other cultures, and that this had significant consequences for shaping Jewish historical consciousness.” (Litmann Library of Jewish Civilization, 2015)
“In Imagining the Kibbutz, Ranen Omer-Sherman explores the literary and cinematic representations of the socialist experiment that became history’s most successfully sustained communal enterprise. Inspired in part by the kibbutz movement’s recent commemoration of its centennial, this study responds to a significant gap in scholarship. Numerous sociological and economic studies have appeared, but no book-length study has ever addressed the tremendous range of critically imaginative portrayals of the kibbutz. This diachronic study addresses novels, short fiction, memoirs, and cinematic portrayals of the kibbutz by both kibbutz “insiders” (including those born and raised there, as well as those who joined the kibbutz as immigrants or migrants from the city) and “outsiders.” For these artists, the kibbutz is a crucial microcosm for understanding Israeli values and identity. The central drama explored in their works is the monumental tension between the individual and the collective, between individual aspiration and ideological rigor, between self-sacrifice and self-fulfillment. Portraying kibbutz life honestly demands retaining at least two oppositional things in mind at once—the absolute necessity of euphoric dreaming and the mellowing inevitability of disillusionment. As such, these artists’ imaginative witnessing of the fraught relation between the collective and the citizen-soldier is the story of Israel itself.” (Penn State University Press, 2015).
The Sons of Scripture: The Karaites in Poland and Lithuania in the Twentieth Century
“Drawing on the variety of archival sources in the host of European and Oriental languages, the book focuses on the history, ethnography, and convoluted ethnic identity of the Polish-Lithuanian Karaites. The vanishing community of the Karaites, a non-Talmudic Turkic-speaking Jewish minority that had been living in Eastern Europe since the late Middle Ages, developed a unique ethnographic culture and religious tradition. The book offers the first comprehensive study of the dramatic history of the Polish-Lithuanian Karaite community in the twentieth century. Especially important is the analysis of the dejudaization (or Turkicization) of the community that saved the Karaites from horrors of the Holocaust.” (De Gruyter Open, 2015)