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The Shabbat Elevator and Other Sabbath Subterfuges: An Unorthodox Essay on Circumventing Custom and Jewish Character: Book by Alan Dundes

The Shabbat Elevator and Other Sabbath Subterfuges: An Unorthodox Essay on Circumventing Custom and Jewish Character

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ISBN: 9780742516717    Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Year of publishing: 2002     Format:  Paperback No of Pages: 208        
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of books written about Judaism and Jews, but this book is unlike any previously published. It focuses on the topic of 'circumventing custom' with special emphasis...Read more
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of books written about Judaism and Jews, but this book is unlike any previously published. It focuses on the topic of 'circumventing custom' with special emphasis on the ingenious ways Orthodox (and other) Jews have devised to avoid breaking the extensive list of activities forbidden on the Sabbath. After examining the sources of Sabbath observance as set forth in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and rabbinical writings, some of the most salient forms of circumvention are described. These include: riding a special Shabbat elevator, unscrewing the lightbulb in the refrigerator, constructing an eruv (a space extending one's domicile so that objects may be carried outside the home), and relying on the services of the so-called 'Shabbes Goy,' among others. Dundes respectfully analyzes such facets of Jewish characteristics as an undue concern with purity, and a long-established tradition of indulging in nit-picking and argumentation. The resultant picture of Jewish character is drawn from an unusual mixture of religious written texts and oral tradition (jokes and proverbs).
The sources range from ancient Israel to works from the twenty-first century. In many ways, it is an authentic and striking Jewish self-portrait that is painted for the very first time in this fascinating volume.
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About the author: Alan Dundes
Alan Dundes is professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, and a leading authority in the study of folklore. He is the author... Read more
Alan Dundes is professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, and a leading authority in the study of folklore. He is the author or editor of more than thirty books including Two Tales of Crow and Sparrow: A Freudian Folkloristic Essay on Caste and Untouchability, Holy Writ as Oral Lit: The Bible as Folklore, and International Folkloristics.
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Review:
This is a creative, lively, rich, and entirely novel theoretical approach to a vexing topic. The book is truly unique in Jewish and Biblical studies-a real tour de force. It is full of wonderful...Read more
This is a creative, lively, rich, and entirely novel theoretical approach to a vexing topic. The book is truly unique in Jewish and Biblical studies-a real tour de force. It is full of wonderful parallels and interpretations, and excellent creative integration of jokes into religious matters. -- Eric Silverman, professor of anthropology, DePauw University Dundes' greatest strength as a scholar is his vast erudition. The Shabbat Elevator is a remarkable book-length essay on Sabbath subterfuges. Western Folklore In [Dundes's] latest book, The Shabbat Elevator, there is much material to recommend... Although the research is book-based, rather than ethnographic, it reveals a depth of scholarship that is accessible, yet scholarly and discursive. Journal of American Folklore To the voluminous literature on Jewish resourcefulness and Sabbath observance Professor Dundes has added a most engrossing discussion of the 'Sabbath subterfuge' -the ways traditionalist Jews legitimate their sidestepping of burdensome Sabbath restrictions in the modern world. The author's psychoanalytic and folkloristic background makes for a refreshingly humanistic perspective. -- Stanley F. Chyet, professor of history, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles, and secretary to the Board of Trustees, Sk
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