The Study of Jewish Folklore in Israel

Galit Hasan-Rokem and Eli Yassif *


Writing a comprehensive survey of folkloristic research in Israel raises questions regarding the scope of the topic. From when should one date the beginnings of Israeli folklore studies and how should one divide it into periods or main stages of development? What spheres should be included within the framework of the survey? That is to say, which of the disciplines such as anthropology, folk art, musicology, and literature, which touch directly on the study of folklore should not be included in the scope of folklore studies as we understand it today? The boundaries of the term "Jewish folklore in Israel" are also not as clear as it may appear at first sight. Should it also encompass studies by non-lsraeli scholars who deal with the folklore of Israel? And what about studies by Israeli folklorists dealing with international folklore? The issue is further complicated by the inherently comparative international character of the main research methodologies applied in the field. We have decided that the present study will address only work by Israeli shcolars dealing with the Jewish folklore of the country.

An additional problem is whom to include in this overview. To list all the scholars and studies within the limited framework placed at our disposal would have created a technical bibliography, which was not our intention here. We preferred to highlight the major trends in the development of the field.


The new preoccupation with Israeli folklore as opposed to Diaspora folklore, signals the beginning of a new direction in folklore studies in Israel. Until that point, folklore studies and publications dealt with the culture which Jewish immigrants brought with them from the Diaspora, and not with the culture which was evolving within the Jewish community in Palestine The first manifestations of interest in the folklore developing under the unique conditions of Palestine began to appear in Reshumot. They include Zidkoni's compilation "Songs of the Roadworkers" and "Palestinian Children's Songs about Hitler and Mussolini' (with notes by Dov Stock), (1) as well as studies on "Folk Dances in Israel," (2) which describe the unique qualities of the new dances against the background of Jewish dances in the Diaspora.

Noteworthy central figures in this period were Y.T. Lewinsky. Dov Sadan (Stock), and Haim Schwarzbaum. All three began their research after World War ll but the bulk of their work was written and published during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Hence, one cannot consider them as part of the "forties" generation. At the same time, the research trends which they developed and the direction of their influence on folklore studies in the State of Israel were shaped in this early period. Since each of these scholars has published hundreds of studies we cannot, within the present framework, list or summarize them, but we shall attempt to evaluate their contribution to the development of this field In Israel.

Lewinsky's research contribution is evident in two main directions: the description of Jewish folklore in Eastern Europe, and the study of Jewish festivals. In dozens of articles in Yeda-'Am (which he founded and edited for many years) and Mahanayim, (3) Lewinsky studied and described numerous customs, folk-beliefs and folk literature of various types among Eastern European Jewry. These numerous studies, although they are not greatly innovative, present a well-rounded picture of Jewish life in Eastern Europe, comparing it to European culture in general and to other Jewish communities Lewinsky's comprehensive work was an eight-volume anthology on Jewish festivals (4) for which he wrote most of the material. Here, for the first time, a large amount of material was collected on each of the Jewish festivals from ancient Jewish sources and from modern literature, culminating in the description of the unique nature of festivals in the new Jewish state. The anthology included highly important material on "Israeli festivals, such as Independence Day, Holocaust Day, Lag Baomer and Shavuot, which are also part of the Israeli folklore evolving in modern times.

The creative personality of Dov Sadan extends far beyond the framework of the present study. His literary activity has included all the branches of Jewish culture both in Hebrew and in Yiddish, resulting in thousands of publications. (5) Like Lewinsky, he was prompted by a sense of the urgent need to save something of the destroyed Eastern European culture, and it is against this background that one should view his editorship of Reshumot and the dozens of articles documenting and analysing Jewish folklife in Eastern Europe. But two of Sadan s projects deserve special mention in this article. The first are his anthologies of Jewish humor, A Bowl of Nuts (1950) and A Bowl of Raisins (1953) (6) Interviewing Informants in Palestine in the 1940s, Sadan collected and annotated jokes, witticism, and hurnorous tales on Jewish life in Europe and in Palestine and on famous personalities, historical events, and phenomena in Jewish life. Thus he created the most extensive and significant colection of Jewish humor in pre-State Palestine.

Sadan's second central contribution to Jewish folklore is conceptual. His folkloristic studies are uniform in pattern and conception he describes the ways Jewish texts and modern Jews use phrases, proverbs, metaphors or customs, and then illustrates in detail the use of each such linguistic unit, in Hebrew, Yiddish, German and Polish literature. The abundance of examples illustrating each case, and the proliferation of folkloristic genres which he studied and on which he wrote, sometimes create an impression of redundance and lack of a clear conception. At the same time, it seems that one basic objective underlies Sadan's great project in this field: to demonstrate the unity of CuItural creation and all its branches-folk, literary and Popular-and to cancel out the ostensible dichotomy between so-called "higher" and "lower" literature. By illustrating the appearance of phrases and folk metaphors in both folk tradition and literature, Sadan would appear to be attempting to illuminate the creative process at these two levels of literature. His work thus demonstrates that interpretation or explication and correct understanding of the literary phenomenon cannot be limited to one or the other of the two. Sadan's contribution to the study of Jewish literature in this respect exerts a vital impact on the study of the affinity between Jewish folklore and modern Hebrew and Yiddish litarature to this day.

Haim Schwarzbaum is the last of the three members of the second generation of folklore studies to be mentioned here. His scholarly output covers the period from his first folkloristic publication in Edot in 1946 (7) to his death in 1983.
(8) His central contribution to the study of Jewish folklore can be found on two main levels: explication of the affinity between Jewish and Arab folklore, and the extension of the Jewish folklore bibliography far beyond what had been known before. In the comparative study of Jewish and Arabic Literature, Schwarzbaum's main works, Mimkor Yisrael Veyishmael [From the Sources of Israel and Ishmael] and Biblical and Extra-Biblical Legends, as well as dozens of articles in this area, are a contribution to the earlier comparative works of scholars such as Max Gruenbaum and Bernard Heller. At the same time, the contemporary encounter between the two cultures in the Middle East, which Schwarzbaum described in his articles and in his oral discussions, endowed his studies with new dimensions and angles of vision that did not exist in previous works. The dozens of bibliographical surveys in the area of Arab folklore which he published in Yeda-'Am and which acquainted the Israeli reader and scholar with studies written in Arabic and many other languages also contributed to the development of Jewish folklore studies.

Schwarzbaum's bibliographical conception was much wider than is commonly accepted. In his comparative studies of the tales of Petrus Alfonsi, Naftoli Gross, Zacharia al Dahiri, and Berechia ha-Nakdan, (9) Schwarzbaum expands the borders of the comparative bibliography of Jewish folklore by presenting each such folkloristic text in its widest context: in the culture of the ancient East, in the Talmud and the Midrashim and in medieval literature, in the modern Jewish culture of both East and West and in international folklore. Schwarzbaum's work is not characterized by methodological or theoretical innovation, but by the research method which he employed. The comprehensiveness, depth of knowledge and bibliographical precision of his studies presented Israeli researchers with new norms and challenges which advanced Jewish folklore research into a new era.

Most of the scholars we have noted as central to the first period were also active in the second, leaving their stamp on scholarly journals (Sadan and Schwarzbaum in Yeda-'Am; Lewinsky and Sadan in Mahanayim). Their research reflects the spirit of the times and the complexities of Israeli life in various forms: Sadan emphasizes the Eastern European tradition, Lewinsky attempts to grasp evolvlng culture, and Schwarzbaum attempts to create historlcal links between the common roots of Arab and Jewish folklore and the new milieu in Palestine. But the folklorist who personifies the reorganization of the folkloristic system within Israeli culture after the establishment of the State and the arrival of the great waves of immigration in the 1950s is Dov Noy. His sources of inspiration are various and sometimes appear conflicting. His attitude to folklore was formulated in his parents' home in Kolomea, Galicia, and he was particularly influenced by his grandmother who was well-versed in the oral traditions. He began his university studies as a student of rabbinical literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and this source, too, is ever-present in his work. Noy experienced the destruction of Jewish culture in Europe (including the folkloristic infrastructure) through his encounter with Holocaust survivors in Cyprus where illegal Jewish immigrants to Palestine were imprisoned by the British. His equally serious approach to all sectors of the population and his non-elitistic conception of culture are embodied in his achievements as editor of the children's weekly Davar Liyeladim where he first published folktale texts. An important milestone in his professional career is his work with the American folklore scholar Stith Thompson in Indiana. Thompson's own approach integrated NorthEuropean folklore studies (the Finnish school) with its literary-philological bent, with American folklore studies which had mainly been inspired by the semanticanthropolgical trends of Boaz, Sapir and others.

Noy's doctoral thesis (the second supervised by Thompson at Indiana University) analyzed the comparative element of rabbinical literature by providing an index to international motifs in folk literature embedded within the Talmud and Midrash. At this stage of his research, Noy still acted primarily as a Midrashic scholar for whom folkloristic methodology served as a fresh insight to deal with ancient materials. This line of research occupied a central position in Noy's publications throughout the sixties, mainly in the articles published in the journal Mahanayim. However, the systematic folklore studies which he conducted at Indiana introduced Noy to fieldwork techniques and to folklore archives, thus inspiring his future scientific work in those directions. Upon his return to Israel, Noy began collecting material among the new immigrant communities. His great work of collection and compilation created the Israel Folklore Archives at the Museum of Ethnography and Folklore founded by the Haifa Municipality. His approach also shared the drawbacks characteristic of the geographic-historical school of research, such as the emphasis on the content message, sometimes even in summaries, at the expense of the unique artistic texture of the text as performed by the single narrator. At times, the number of tales and the compilation of ethnic statistics, typologies and motifs constitute the focus of reports of the collecting. (10) From the outset, however, the publications reveal the desire to convey the folkloristic phenomenon in all its complexity. The data compiled at the Israel Folktale Archives include details and life histories of the narrators, and stress the role, background and motives of the recorders. Comparative documentation has become characteristic of these compilations and certain scholars are associated with the project of annotation of this type including the late Otto Schnitzler, Elisheva Schoenfeld, and Edna Heichal. The group of scholars who have shared the laborious task of compilation and annotation include several whose interests are focused in other directions, in particular Heda Jason, who was active in recording tales from the start, and was the main recorder of a personal narrative repertoire later published in an international forum. (11) Haim Schwarzbaum also appears regularly as the author of comparative notes in the various publications of the Archives. In his own large-scale independent publications, he relies greatly on material from the Archives.

The sense of urgency in the recording of the material because of the rapid acculturation process, stemming from both modernization and from the process of integration of specific ethnic cultures, somewhat impaired the quality of the recording and publication. Noy has published numerous articles (12) dealing with single motifs or narrative types but has postponed the publication of a comprehensive historical-methodological introduction to Israeli folklore. At the same time, he has hastened the perspectives of the past and future in summing up the work of scholars that perished in the Holocaust. For example, the folksongs recorded by S.Z. Pipe were published with forewords and detailed commentary by Dov Noy and his brother Meir Noy, (13) himself an independent scholar who has studied and collected Yiddish and Hebrew folksongs, in his private archives. Another important work is the historiographical essay on Sh. An-Ski, a central figure in the study of Jewish folklore in Eastern Europe who, together with Y.L. Cahan, was one of the great forerunners of fieldwork-oriented research in Jewish folkloristics. Thus, in this essay, as well as the publication and annotation of some of Grunwald's collections, (14) Noy exerts his vocation of mediator between the former generation of European Jewish folklorists and young Israeli folklorists, who are all, more or less, his own disciples.

The combination of the study of two kinds of discourse, written and oral, led Dov Noy to new methodological paths in the study of folk literature. Worthy of mention are three studies in which he exhibits expertise, sharp perception and profound analysis: (1) his historical and comparative discussion of the issues of oikotypification, the evolvement of characteristic Jewish creativity, and the rules characterizing the absorption of types from international folklore; (15) (2) the philological-folkloristic analysis in his Yiddish-language article on the ballad; (16) and (3) his contextual-functional study of a Tunisian folktale in which he examines the individual variation introduced by a certain woman narrator in a certain narrative event (17) In his articles on the Yemenite Rabbi Shalem Shabazi, (18) he also provided the basis for the study of Jewish hagiography and created the model for the analysis of the central theme of relations between Jews and non-Jews as reflected in Jewish folk narratives (19) Noy's oeuvre encompasses varied issues in folk literature and touches on almost all periods and communities in Jewish culture. He was the first to establish folklore as an academic discipline, first at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and subsequently at Haifa University. His former students now populate the various universities in lsrael and make up the infrastructure of research in this sphere. Noy has also succeeded In inspiring public and community institutions to deal intensively with the study of folklore. Both his institutional leadership and his open-minded scholarly personallty have contributed to his stature as the single most influential folklorist in Israel. Thus, although his students are of varied theoretical orientations, they all pursue the study of oral and written folk tradition in various forms of interaction and interdependence.

The first of Noy's students to be awarded a Ph.D. degree (though not in Israel) was Heda Jason, who dealt with the typification of folk literature, especially in the ethnopoetics of Jews from Islamic countries. Apart from Noy, Jason was influenced by the ethnographers of the previous generation, in particular Goitein and Brauer, in emphasizing the study of a specific cultural region. (20) Her research activity includes basic typological work. However, her main impact has been in blazing trails to theories originating in Russian formalism, (21) as a result of which she has arrived at a comprehensive and consistent summary of the genre system of folk literature. (22) This research, as well as several of her articles dealing with the analysis of specific genres, has exerted an international influence on the study of folk literature. Jason's study of the regional folk literature of the Middle East is informed by a vision of an ancient common textual tradition which can be traced back to the archeological remnants of the past. (23) Her inspiration to direct Israeli folklore research towards theoretical discussion and exact empirical analysis has been invaluable.

The work of Issachar Ben-Ami of the Folklore Research Center at the Hebrew University deals with the interrelationships of belief, custom and narrative in Moroccan Jewish folklore. (24) His disposition towards ethnographic documentation as the focus of research benefits from his personal familiarity with Moroccan Jewish culture and is inspired by his scholarly training in ethnography at Gottingen, directed by K. Ranke. His compilation of traditions on North African Jewish saints, on which he worked for many years at the Center, is the first of its kind and proportion. (25) It has become an important reference text on the subject for scholars in various fields such as sociology, anthropology and psychology.

Students trained by Noy who were awarded Ph.D.'s by the Hebrew University include Eliezer Marcus, (26) who has contributed greatly to introducing folklore into Jewish educational curricula in Israel and abroad. Marcus has devoted the main part of his work to drawing the attention of the educational establishment to the specific position of folklore within the cultural polysystem. His activities also include guiding kindergarten and elementary school teachers in understanding, collecting, and teaching folklore.

A close follower of Dov Noy's scholarly approaches, Aliza Shenhar maintained a traditional geographical-historical trend in her doctoral thesis (27) as in most of her articles up to the late seventies. In the eighties, however she introduced several new paths in the study of folk literature in Israel. She has initiated and conducted several large-scale compilation projects in Beit-Shean and Shelomy on behalf of the Israel Folktale Archives that she now heads. In these projects, she emphasizes cooperation with the local population and precise recording in the original languages. The analysis of the texts thus collected stresses the importance of a local folktale community. Like Noy and Marcus, she has been active in stimulating members of the narrating communities to record their own tradition. The pros and cons of the method have been raised in several discussions of the scientific board of the l.F.A. which includes folklorists from all the academic institutions in the country. Shenhar has also launched an attemt at formal Computerized descriptions of one particular genre, the sacred legend. (28) Recently, Shenhar began exploring the evolvement of contomparnry folklore, such as rumor and urban legend in Israel. Dealing with this subject matter, Shenhar has, on the one hand, communicated with European and American scholars who represent the growing interest in the subject. On the other hand, her work on contemporary folklore has naturally made Shenar the most readily available Israeli folklorist to mass media where she contributes to the sharing of information on a more popular level. Shenhar has also devoted several studies to the interaction of literature and folklore, examining the use of folk traditions in modern Hebrew classics (such as works by Agnon and Hazaz) as well as in children's literature. (29)

Eli Yassif's main subject of research is Hebrew literary folklore, in particular of the medieval period. His earlier research focused on textual-historical issues. (30) He then moved on to study historiographical problems of the novella genre, stressing the link between the folktale in folk books and the oral folk tradition as well as the transition of Jewish folktales from medieval times to the modern era and contemporary tradition. (31) In these studies Yassif creates a conceptualization of great tradition and little tradition within Hebrew literary creativity, and has also studied the role of the folkloristic author. or the author of popular literature. Professor of folk literature in the Department of Hebrew Literature at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Yassif defines Jewish folkloristics within the general framework of Jewish Studies. Through his analysis of the past, he confronts trajectories of the 19th-century Wissenschaft des Judenthums still active in academic circles today. He thereby attempts to reshape and enhance the marginal position attributed to folklore within that scholarly context. His comprehensive approach to Jewish folklore is also expressed in bibliographical projects. (32) In addition, Yassif explores some aspects of contemporary Israeli folklore, such as humor. chizbat. the kibbutz, and the political context.

Tamar Alexander received her folkloristic training at U.C.L.A. under Robert Georges. Originally a student of literature, her work deals with three main spheres: the Hebrew folktale in medieval literary works; (33) the foIktales of Judeo-Spanish Jews, with emphasis on recording in the original language and analyzing contextual information; and the expression of the ethnic identity in folk literature. (34) Within this frame work she has investigated the creation of Judeo-Spanish oikotypes in Jerusalem which are familyspecific and individually idiosyncratic Alexander has turned to the study of narrative performance in an attempt to provide a systematic description of the majority of the sign systems which together make up the narrative event. Together with Galit Hasan-Rokem she edits the journal Jerusalem Studies in Jewish folklore .

Hasan-Rokem completed her Ph.D. thesis at tho Hebrew University under Dov Noy and studied further at Helsinki University, Finland, under Matti Kuusi. She also worked for a year with Alan Dundes at University of California at Berkeley. These influences are manifest in her research. Her main field of interest is the proverb genre, for which she has developed semantic-structural models based both on fieldwork in Israel and on diachronic study of Hebrew and Jewish textual sources. (35) In this sphere Hasan-Rokem is active as associate-editor of Proverbium, the yearbook of paremiological studies which has resumed publication under the editorship of Wolfgang Mieder. She also initiated the establishment of an archive of Israeli proverbs at the Hebrew University, which presently houses several thousand proverbs. These proverbs have been collected from some twenty ethnic groups in Israel and from written sources. The archive contains record of the specific context in which the proverbs were uttered as well as a logicosemantic indexing. Hasan-Rokem's research interests also include the folk literary genres in the classic Midrash literature. Her interpretations are oriented to the hermeneutic, symbolic and psychoanalytical dimensions. (36) She has also written on Jewish motifs in non-Jewish folklore, with emphasis on the contact between oral and written literature, (37) and on the semiotic aspects of the art of storytelling. (38) Her academic activities include directing the Misgav Yerushalayim Institute of research on the Sephardi and Oriental Jewish Heritage at the Hebrew University, teaching in the Hebrew Literature Department and co-editing Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore.

Louis Landau of Ben-Gurion University has studied Midrashic literature of Judeo-Spanish-speaking Jews. His research also includes the study of food taboos as well as medieval Jewish folk tales. (39) His expertise on South American literature and culture has added new dimensions to the study of Jewish folklore.

We cannot complete this survey without mentioning three additional groups of scholars: immigrant scholars, Israeli scholars studying Israeli folklore from abroad, and scholars whose main interests lie in other fields but who contribute directly to folklore studies. Within the first group, mention should be made of Olga Goldberg-Mulkiewicz who came to Israel from Poland in 1968. Schooled within the tradition of European ethnology, her areas of research reflect a process characteristic of immigrant scholars. Her previous research focused on the image of the Jew and Jewish symbols in Polish folk art and the role of Jewish popular artists in non-Jewish society. (40) After her arrival in Israel, she began focusing on the work of Jewish folk artists from various countries, such as Yemen and Iraq. Goldberg-Mulkiewicz currently heads the Folklore Program at the Hebrew Unlverslty ot Jerusalem and has been a frequent visiting professor at several Central European universities.

Dmitry Segal's reputation as a theoretical folkloristsemanticist with strong structuralist and semiotic tendencies was established in the Soviet Union. (41) Since his immigration and arrival at the Hebrew University in 1973, he has dealt mainly with literary history and theory, but his theoretical and methodological impact on the work of Israeli folklorists, particularly those in Jerusalem (Jason, Hasan-Rokem), is clearly evident. Since 1985, Segall has been active in teaching folklore at the Hebrew University.

Of the Israeli folklore scholars abroad dealing with folklore in Israel, particular mention should be made of Dan Ben-Amos and Yael Zerubavel. Ben-Amos deals with Jewish folklore in a wide historical perspective. (42) His outstanding expertise and central position within Western Folklore theory has added significantly to the development of the field of Jewish folklore. Zerubavel's work on modern Israeli national myths examines symbolic thought in a wide functional-social context, and is partially based on interviews with informants in contemporary Israeli society (43)

We will only mention briefly scholars in other spheres whose research has cast light on Israeli folklore- They include: Shmuel Werses who surveys folklore in the works of various Hebrew writers, including Bialik and Agnon; (44) Joseph Dan, a scholar of medieval literature and Kabbala, who has also touched on the folk literature in the corpus he studies; (45) Yoav Elshtein, who applied folkloristic methodology to the study of Hassidic narrative and turned to explore the sources of this literature in medieval folktale from Europe and among Europan Jews; (46) anthropologist Harvey Goldberg who, within the framework of his study of Jewish society in North Africa, also cast light on certain folkloristic aspects; (47) and anthropologist Yoram Bilu, who has dealt with demonological explanations for disease, espeeially mental disease, among Moroccan Jews, and the phenomena of folk healing and popular saints in Israel today. Bilu has also dealt with the ethno-psychological analysis of belief and custom in historical perspective, such as the Dybbuk and fortune telling. (48)

Schematically one can describe the relations between the idenlity of the scholars and the material studied as follows: folklorists whose work reflects their individual ethnic identity (Noy - East Europen; Ben-Ami - Moroccan) or the individual's preferred ethnic identification (Alexander - Spanish); scholars whose work actively expresses an Israeli identity, without distinguishing ethnic features (Shenhar, Yasslf, Zerubavel): those who study the traditions of ethnic groups from the distancing point of view of "otherness" (Jason, Bilu, Goldnerg-Mulkiewicz); and folklorists whose work does not deal with the contemporary ethnic aspect, but return to ancient and medieval traditions (Noy, Hasan-Rokem - Midrash; Alexande, Yassif - Middle Ages), or concentrate on theoretical aepects (Jason - ethnopoetic genres Hassn-Rokem - proverb semantics).

Through the methodological division of Jewish folkloristic studies in Israel into two main periods, (pre and post-statehood), we are expressing a fundamental view regarding the close links between socio-cultural events and research in this sphere, which draws its sustenance from the social experience. An analysis of the survey of the post-1948 period reveals several trends in the attitudes of folklore scholars to their objects of study. The two historical events which have affected not only our periodization but also and foremostly the profile of Israeli folkloristics, have been World War ll and the declaration of the State of Israel. The first event changed the whole condition Juif in Europe, and destroyed a living society with its organic folklore system. As a result of the war, fieldwork became a task of reconstruction rather than documentation. The key terms for the modes of communication with the survivors of the Holocaust as well as their relatives, were memory and commemoration. The folklore of Eastern Europe became memory rather than living reality. The collecting and publishing of the folkloristic material was incorporated into the massive national project of establishing a lasting testimony to the world that had vanished.

The other main divider affecting folkloristics in Israel was the foundation of the State and the dominance of Zionist ideology in Israeli culture. The Zionist ideological program favored fast obliteration of ethnic boundaries and the creation of one monolithic Hebrew culture. From the folklorists' point of view the research of separate ethnic traditions was rationalized by the need to facilitate their absorption into Israeli culture. This trend pushed the work of the folklorists towards methodologies in which a Statecentered ideology was reflected. As a result, the collecting of folktales for the Israel Folktale Archives was largely conducted in Hebrew, although often neither the collector nor the informant was fluent in the language. The limitations on the possibility of conducting textual studies of these tales in the future are obvious.

With the decline of the "melting pot" ideology in the beginning of the 1970s, the Ministry of Education and Culture soon launched a massive project of integrating Oriental Jewish heritage into school curricula. Folklore research was one of the areas to benefit from lthe funding provided by the project. The project funded a large portion of teaching and research activities at all three universities where folklore is currently taught (Jerusalem, Haifa, and Beer Sheva). This created a certain bent in the choice of research subjects towards the study of ethnic. and especially Oriental Jewish, culture. Thus, the balance sought in the early seventies was perhaps replaced by a new imbalance Research on East European and Yiddish folklore was directed mainly towards the medieval and early modern periods. Because of this orientation, it has not been discussed in this article.

In studying Jewish ethnic folklore, one is constantly confronted by the tension between focusing on "Jewish folklore" and "the folklore of the Jews." The complete configuration of the folklore of every individual often includes large portions of specifically Jewish elements conjoined with elements common to the local Jewish and non-Jewish population. In the case of Jews from Arab countries, this tension has also raised polltical problems. Arab states in UNESCO have claimed that Israelis steal or plagiarize folklore which legitimately belongs to them. Furthermore, the prolonged hostility between Israel and its Arab neighbors has attached a stigma not only to Arab culture in general, but also to the Arabic component of the culture of the Jews from Muslim countries. The political situation since 1967 has further aggravated this problem.

Folklore as a subject for scientific research has not always earned due respect by the academic establishment in Israel. The folk origins of the material as well as its potential explosiveness within a certain social framework have constituted a threat for the elitist self-conception of academia. Yet by adopting stringent scientific methods and introducing theoretical perspectives into the discourse of folklore research in Israel, folklorists have managed to occupy a position, though still too modest, within Israeli academic institutions. The establishment of annual academic meetings that alternate between those universities active in the field, as well as the founding of a refereed journal on the subject (Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore), have been important milestones in the process.



Jewish folklore main page

Notes

*Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Review
Vol. 11, No.1-2,1989. PP.2-11.

1)
Reshumot 1 (1945).
2)
Reshumot 3 (1947): 149-64.
3)
Compare the bibliography in Yassif, Jewish Folklore: An Annotated Bibliograpny, New York and London, 1986.
4)
Yom-Tov Lewisnski, The Book of Festivals (Sepher Hamoadim), Tel Aviv, 1948-57, 8 vols. (H).
5)
See G. Kressel, A Bibliography of the Writings of Dov Sadan, Tel Aviv, 1981 (H)
6)
Dov Sadan, A Bowl of Raisins, Tel Aviv, 1950 (H); A Bowl of Nuts, Tel Aviv, 1953 (H). (Each collection contains 1000 texts.)
7)
Haim Schwarzbaum, "The Denier and the Loaves of Bread," Edot (1947): 97-105 (H).
8)
See Itzhak Ganuz, "A Bibliography of Haim Schwarzbaum's Essays and Books in the Realm of Jewish and Arab Folklore ' "Yeda-'Am 22 (1984): 10-19.
9)
Schwarzbaum, "International Folklore Motifs in Petrus Alfonsi's Disciplina Clericalis," Sefarad 21 (1961) 267-99; 22 (1962): 17-58, 321-44; 23 (1963): 54-73; "Sources and Development of Four Folktales in 'Sepher Hamusar' by Rabbi Zacharia al Dahiri," in Jehuda Ratzhaby, ed., Boi Teiman (Come Thou South): Studies and Documents Concerning the Culture of the Yemenite Jews, Tel Aviv, 1967, pp. 153-64 (H);Studies in Jewish and World Folklore, Berlin, 1968; The Mischle Shu'alim (Fox Fables) of Rabbi Berechia Hanadkan, Kiron, 1979 (H); and his collected articles, Eli Yassif ed., Jewish Folklore: East and West, Beer Sheva, 1989.
10)
Dov Noy, "Collecting Folktales in Israel," In the Dispersion 7 (1967): 151 -67.
11)
Noy, Jefet Schwili Erzahlt, Berlin, 1963.
12)
See, for example, "The Prayer of the Simpleton Brings Rain," Mahanayim 51 (1961): 34-45 (H); "Obtaining a Magic Violin in Folk Narratives: (Motif D1233), Tatzlil 2 (1962): 93-94. (H); for a complete listing until 1982, see E. Heichal, "Bibliography of Dor Noy's Writings in Folkloristics and Talmudic-Midrashic Literature," I.Ben-Ami and J. Dan, eds. Studies in Aggadah and Jewish Folklore Jerusalem, 1983, pp. 11-30.
13)
Jewish Folk Songs from Galizia, Folklore Plesearch Center Studies 2. Jerusalem, 1972 (Yiddish and Hebrew).
14)
for Grunwald, see Dov Noy, ed., Tales, Songs and Folkways of Sephardic Jews, Jerusalem, 1982 (Folklore Research Center Studies, 6).
15)
Noy, "The Jewish Versions of the 'Animal Languages' Folktale (AT 670) - A Typological Structural Study." Scripta Hierosolymitana 22 (1971): 171-208
16)
Noy, "The Maid and the Robbers: Structural-Comparative Study of Yiddish Folk Balladry:' Haifa Yearbook for Literature and Art 5 (1969): 177-224 (Yiddish).
17)
Noy, "Folktales in a Tunisian Jewish Family:' in Menahem Zohari et al. eds., Thought in Islamic Countries. Jerusalem. 1981 pp. 181-88 (H).
18)
Noy, "Rabbi Shalem Shabazi in the Folk Narratives of thc Jews of Yemen, in Ratzhabi, ed, Bo'i Teiman. Tel Aiv. 1967 pp- 106 133 (H); The Death of Rabbi Shalem Shabazi in Yemen:' in Ratzhabi, ed., Bo'i Teiman, Tel Aviv, 1967, pp. 106-133 (H); "The Death of Rabbi Shalem Shabazi in Yemeni Folk Legends," in Y. Tobi, ed., The Heritage of the Jews of Yemen: Essays and Studies, Jerusalem 1976, pp. 132-149. (H).
19)
Noy, "Between Jews and Non-Jews in Folk Legends of the Jews of Yemen," in S. Morag and I. Ben-Ami, eds., Geniza and Ethnic Studies, Jerusalem, 1981, pp. 229-95.
20)
Heda Jason, Studies in Jewish Ethnopoetry: Narrating Art, Content, Message, Genre, Taipei, 1975.
21)
Jason, Types of Oral Tales in Israel, Jerusalem, 1975; "The Approach of Russian Formalism and its Western Followers to Oral Literature: A Critical Survey," Hasifrut 3 (1971): 53-84 (H).
22)
Jason, Ethnopoetry - form, Context, Function, Bonn, 1977. Ethnopoetics: A Multilingual Terminology, Jerusalem, 1975.
23)
Jason, "The Poor Man of Nippur: An Ethnopoetic Analysis," Joumal of Cuneiform Studies 31 (1979): 189-215. Jason and A. Kempinski, "How Old Are Folktales?," Fabula 22 (1981): 1-27.
24)
I. Ben-Ami, "Le Marriage Traditionel chez les Juifs Marocains," Le Judaisme Marocain - Etudes Ethno-culturelles, Jerusalem, 1975, pp 9-103
25)
Ben-Ami, Saint Veneration among the Jews in Morocco, Jerusalem, 1984 (H).
26)
E. Marcus, The Confrontation Between Jews and Non-Jews in Folktales of the Jews of Islamic Countries, Ph.D. diss., Jerusalem, 1977 (H).
27)
A. Shenhar, family Confrontation in The folktaks of the Jewish Communities, Ph.D. diss., Jerusalem, 1976 (H).
28)
Aliza Shenhar and H. Bar Itzhak, Folk Tales From Beit-Shean ( Haifa, 1981 (H); and hlk Tales frorn Shebmy, Haifa, 1982 (H); A. Shenl and F. Dreizen, "focus Project": Computerized Studies, Haifa, 1979
29)
A. Shenhar, From Folktale to Children's Literature, Haifa, 1982; Stories of Yore: Children folktales, Haifa, 1986, The Jewish and Israeli Folklore,New Delhi, 1987.
30)
Eli Yassif, The Tales of Ben Sira in The Middle Ages: A Critfcal text and Literary Studies, Jerusalem, 1984 (H).
31)
Yassif, "The Function of 'Ose-Pele' in Jewish Folk Literature," Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore 3 (1982):47-66 (H); "From Jewish to Israeli Oikotype: The Tale of the Man Who Did Not Swear," Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore 8 (1985):7-32 (H), "Sepher Hama'asim,"' Tarbiz 43 (1984):409-29 (H); "The Exemplary Story in Sepher Hasidin," Tarbiz 57 (1988): 217-55; "Traces of Folk-Traditions of the Second Temple Period in Rabbinic Literature," Jounal of Jewish Studies 39 (1988); 212-33.
32)
Yassif, "Hebrew Prose in the East: Its Formation in the Middle Ages and Transition to Modern Times," Pe'amim 26 (1986):53-70 (H); "Folklore Research and Jewish Studies," Work Union of Jewish Studies Newsletter 27 (1987), 3-27; 28 (1988); Jewish Folklore:An Annototated Bibliography, New York and London, Garland, 1986.
33)
Tamar Alexander, Ideology and Aesthetics in the Folk Narrative in The Book of the Pious, Fabula 22 (1981); 'The Neighbour in Paradise in the Book of the Pious: A Traditional Folktale in an ideological conext, Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore (1981): 61-82 (H); Folktale in Sefer Hasidim, Prooftext 5 (1985): 19-31.
34)
Alexander, "The Judeo-Spanish Legend about Rabbi Kalonymos in Jerusalern: A Study of Processes of Folktale Adaptation," Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore 4-5 (1984): 85-122 (H); "The Sephardic Folktale as an Expression cf Ethnic group Identity," Cahiers de Litterature 0rale
35)
G. Hasan-Rokem, Proverbs in Israeli Folk Narratives: A Structural Semantic Analysis of Folklore (Folklore Fellows Cornmunications 232), Helsinki, 1982.
36)
Hasan-Rokem, "The Ideological Message and the Psychological Message in 'The Tale of Rabbi Tsadok's Two Children': On the Interpretation of Narratives in Midrash Aggada," Jerusalem Studies in Hebrew Literature 3 (1983): 122-39 (H).
37)
G. Hasan-Rokem and Alan Dundes, eds., The Wandering Jew: Interpretations of a Christian Legend, Bloornington, 1986; Hasan-Rokem, "The Cobbler of Jerusalem in Finnish Folklore," Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore 2 (1982):124-48 (H)
38)
Hasan-Rokem, "To See the Voices: a Functional, Semantic and Herrneneutic Appraach to Narrating," Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore 10 (1988):20-31 (H); "The Snake at the Wedding - A Serniotic Reconsideration of the Comparative Method of Folk Narrative Research,"ARV - Scandinavian Yearbook of Folklore 43 (1987): 73-87.
39)
Louis Landau, Content and Form in the 'Meam Loz' of ,Rabbi Yaakov Khuli, Jerusalem, 1980 (H); "The Tales of Rashi in His Commentary on the Babylonian Talmud," Eshel Beer Sheva 3 (1986):101-36 (H).
40)
Olga Goldberg Mulkiewicz, "The Image of the Jew in Polish Folk Culture,"Folklore Research Center Studies 1 (1970):149-52; "The Stereotype of the Jew in Polish Folklore," Studies in Aggada and Jewish Folklore (Folklore Research Center Studies 7), (1983):83-94; "Jewish Textile Printers in Eastern Europe," Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore (1982) 149-58 (H).
41)
E. Meletinsky, S. Nekludov, E. Novik and D. Segal, "Problems of the Structural Analysis of Fairytales,"' in P. Maranda, ed., Soviet Structural Folkloristics, The Hague and Paris, 1974; D. Segal, "The Connection between the Semantics and the Formal Structure of a Text," in P. Maranda, ed., Mythology Harmondsworth, 1972, pp. 215-49, and other Works.
42)
Dan Ben-Amos, "Introduction" to Mimekor Yisrael Classical Jewish Folktales, collected by Micha Joseph Bin Gorion, Bloomington, 1976, vol 1, pp. xxix-lxv; "Nationalism and Nihilism: The Attitude of Two Hebrew authors towards Folklore," International Folklore Review, 1(1981):5-16;"Talmadic Tall Tales," L. Degh, H. Glassie and F. J. Oinas, eds. Folklore Today: A Festschrift for Richard M. Dorson, Bloomington, 1976, pp. 24-44 "Generic Distinctions in the Aggadah," F. Talmage ed., Studies in Jewish Folklore, Cambridge, Mass., 1980, pp. 45-72.
43)
Yael Zerubavel, The Last Stand: On the Transformation of Symbols in Modern Israeli Culture, Ph.D. diss., University ot Pennsylvania, 1980 "The 'Wandering Israeli' in Contemporary Israeli Literature," Contemporary Jewry 7 (1986): 127-40 With Barry Sehwaltz and Bernice M. Barnett, ''The Recovery of Masada: A Study in Collective Memory," Sociological Quarterly 27 (1986): 147-64; "The Holiday Cycle and the Comemoration of the Past: Folklore, History and Education," Proceedings of the Ninth World Congress of Jewish Studies (1986): 111-18: "The Historic. the Legendary, and the Incredible: Invented Tradition and the Rhetoric of Change" (forthcoming); "The Politics of Interpretation: Tel Hai in Israeli Collective Memory" (forthcoming).
44)
S. Werses, "Folk Narrative Processes in the work of Agnon, Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore 1 (1981):101-26;"The Folktale and its Literary Adaptation: An Analysis of Bialik's 'The Tale of Three and Four' - 'First Version' and its Variants," Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore 3 (1982):67-85 (H).
45)
Joseph Dan, The Hebrew Story in the Middle Ages, Jerusalem, 1974 (H); "The Beginnings of Hebrew Hagiographic Literature," Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore 1(1981):82-100 (H); "Teraphim: From Popular Belief to a Folktale," Scripta Hierosolymitana 27 (1978): 99-106; "Five Versions of the story of the Jerusalemite," Proceedings of the American Academy of Jewish Research 35 (1967): 99-111.
46)
Yoav Elshtein, Ma'aseh Hoshev: Studies in Hasidic Tales, Jerusalem 1983 (H).
47)
Amos Meged and Harvey E. Goldberg, "Rabbi Sa'adia Adati: The Legend of a Saint in the Rif of Spanish Morocco and its Social Context," Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore 9 (1986):89-103, and other works.
48)
Yoram Bilu, "Demonic Explanations of Disease among Moroccan Jews in Israel:' Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore 2 (1982): 108-23: "Demonic Explanations of Disease Among Moroccan Jews in Israel," Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry (1979):363-80; "The Moroccan Demon in Israel: The Case of 'Evil Spirit Disease,' " Ethos 8 (1980):27-39; Bilu and E. Ben-Ami, "Saints' Sanctuaries in Israeli Development Towns: On a Mechanism of Urban Transformatlon," Urban Anthropology 16 (1987); 243-72; Y. Bilu and G. Hasan-Rokem, Cinderella and the Saint: The Life History of a Jewish Moroccan Folk-Healer in Israel, The Psychoanalytical Study of Society 15 (1989).

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