People of the Body

Jews and Judaism from an Embodied Perspective

Edited by Howard Eilberg-Schwartz

Subjects: Body, The
Series: SUNY series, The Body in Culture, History, and Religion
Paperback : 9780791411704, 402 pages, September 1992
Hardcover : 9780791411698, 402 pages, September 1992

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Table of contents


Introduction: People of the Body

1. The Problem of the Body for the People of the Book
Howard Eilberg-Schwartz

2. The Garden of Eden and Sexuality in Early Judaism
Gary Anderson

3. The Great Fat Massacre: Sex, Death, and the Grotesque Body in the Talmud
Daniel Boyarin

4. Mizvot Built into the Body: Tkhines for Niddah, Pregnancy, and Childbirth
Chava Weissler

5. Purifying the Body in the Name of the Soul: The Problem of the Body in Sixteenth-Century Kabbalah
Lawrence Fine

6. Images of God's Feet: Some Observations on the Divine Body in Judaism
Elliot R. Wolfson

7. God's Body: Theological and Ritual Roles of Shi'ur Komah
Naomi Janowitz

8. The Body Never Lies: The Body in Medieval Jewish Folk Narratives
Eli Yasif

9. The Jewish Body: A Foot-note
Sander Gilman

10. (G)nos(e)ology: The Cultural Construction of the Other
Jay Geller

11. Zionism as an Erotic Revolution
David Biale

12. Menstruation and Identity: The Meaning of Niddah for Moroccan Women Immigrants to Israel
Rahel Wasserfall

13. Why Jewish Princesses Don't Sweat: Desire and Consumption in Postwar American Jewish Culture
Riv-Ellen Prell

14. Challenging Male/Female Complementarity: Jewish Lesbians and the Jewish Tradition
Rebecca Alpert




By shifting attention from the image of Jews as a textual community to the ways Jews understand and manage their bodies — for example, to their concerns with reproduction and sexuality, menstruation and childbirth— this volume contributes to a revisioning of what Jews and Judaism are and have been. The project of re-membering the Jewish body has both historical and constructive motivations. As a constructive project, this book describes, renews, and participates in the complex and ongoing modern discussion about the nature of Jewish bodies and the place of bodies in Judaism.

Howard Eilberg-Schwartz is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Stanford University. He is the author of The Savage in Judaism: An Anthology of Israelite Religion and Ancient Judaism (winner of a 1990 American Academy Award for Academic Excellence) as well as The Human Will in Judaism.


"The greatest strength of the book is the issue it poses: the notion that Jews are not simply a people of the book but also a people of the body. This is a dimension of Jewish experience that has been sorely neglected and that the book puts on the agenda of Jewish studies through its consideration of a number of dimensions of the embodiedness of Jewish life. " — Judith Plaskow, Manhattan College

"Eilberg-Schwartz has identified an overlooked area of inquiry and has gathered together a collection of essays that in the aggregate suggests the riches awaiting further inquiry. This is the kind of book which will be cited frequently as a turning point in the development of a crucial research agenda. " — Martin S. Jaffee, University of Washington