Finalist for the 2013 National Jewish Book Award, American Jewish Studies For centuries, Jews were one of the few European cultures without any official public theatrical tradition. Yet in the modern era, Jews were among the most important creators of popular theater and film-especially in America. Why? In Theatrical Liberalism, Andrea Most illustrates howAmerican Jews used the theatre and other media to navigate their encounterswith modern culture, politics, religion, and identity,negotiating a position for themselves within and alongside Protestant Americanliberalism by reimagining key aspects of traditional Judaism astheatrical. Discussing works as diverse as the Hebrew Bible, TheJazz Singer, and Death of a Salesman-among many others-Most situates Americanpopular culture in the multiple religious traditions that informed theworldviews of its practitioners. Offering a comprehensive history of the role of Judaism in thecreation of American entertainment, Theatrical Liberalism re-examines the distinction between the secular and the religious in both Jewish and American contexts, providing a new way of understanding Jewish liberalism and its place in a pluralist society. With extensive scholarship and compelling evidence, Theatrical Liberalism shows how the Jewish worldview that permeates American culture has reached far beyond the Jews who created it.
Jews and Popular Entertainment in America