Secular Jewish culture
Overview
Secular Jewish culture embraces several related phenomena; above all, it is the international culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 of secular
Secularity
Secularity is the state of being separate from religion.For instance, eating and bathing may be regarded as examples of secular activities, because there may not be anything inherently religious about them...

 communities of Jewish people, but it can also include the cultural contributions of individuals who identify
Jewish identity
Jewish identity is the objective or subjective state of perceiving oneself as a Jew and as relating to being Jewish. Under the broader definition, the Jewish identity does not depend on whether or not a person is regarded as a Jew by others, or by an external set of religious, or legal, or...

 as secular Jews. Derived from philosophy of Moses Mendelssohn
Moses Mendelssohn
Moses Mendelssohn was a German Jewish philosopher to whose ideas the renaissance of European Jews, Haskalah is indebted...

, since the early 19th century the international community
International community
The international community is a term used in international relations to refer to all peoples, cultures and governments of the world or to a group of them. The term is used to imply the existence of common duties and obligations between them...

 of Jewish people is generally considered to be an ethnoreligious
Ethnoreligious
An ethnoreligious group is an ethnic group of people whose members are also unified by a common religious background...

 rather than solely a religious grouping.
Encyclopedia
Secular Jewish culture embraces several related phenomena; above all, it is the international culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 of secular
Secularity
Secularity is the state of being separate from religion.For instance, eating and bathing may be regarded as examples of secular activities, because there may not be anything inherently religious about them...

 communities of Jewish people, but it can also include the cultural contributions of individuals who identify
Jewish identity
Jewish identity is the objective or subjective state of perceiving oneself as a Jew and as relating to being Jewish. Under the broader definition, the Jewish identity does not depend on whether or not a person is regarded as a Jew by others, or by an external set of religious, or legal, or...

 as secular Jews. Derived from philosophy of Moses Mendelssohn
Moses Mendelssohn
Moses Mendelssohn was a German Jewish philosopher to whose ideas the renaissance of European Jews, Haskalah is indebted...

, since the early 19th century the international community
International community
The international community is a term used in international relations to refer to all peoples, cultures and governments of the world or to a group of them. The term is used to imply the existence of common duties and obligations between them...

 of Jewish people is generally considered to be an ethnoreligious
Ethnoreligious
An ethnoreligious group is an ethnic group of people whose members are also unified by a common religious background...

 rather than solely a religious grouping. Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 guides its adherents in both practice and belief, so that it has been called not only a religion
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, but an orthopraxy. This makes it difficult to draw a clear distinction between the cultural production of members of the Jewish people, and culture that is specifically Jewish. Furthermore, not all individuals or all cultural phenomena can be easily classified as either "secular" or "religious", a distinction native to European Enlightenment thinking and foreign to most of the history of non-European Jews.

While secularity
Secularity
Secularity is the state of being separate from religion.For instance, eating and bathing may be regarded as examples of secular activities, because there may not be anything inherently religious about them...

 distances a Jewish individual from Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

, in its etymological meaning, retains the linkage to the land of origin
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

, the people named for its last pre-Roman vestige
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

, study of Jewish texts
Torah study
Torah study is the study by Jewish people of the Torah, Hebrew Bible, Talmud, responsa, rabbinic literature and similar works, all of which are Judaism's religious texts...

, practice of community charity
Tzedakah
Tzedakah or Ṣ'daqah in Classical Hebrew is a Hebrew word commonly translated as charity, though it is based on the Hebrew word meaning righteousness, fairness or justice...

, and Jewish history
Jewish history
Jewish history is the history of the Jews, their religion and culture, as it developed and interacted with other peoples, religions and cultures. Since Jewish history is over 4000 years long and includes hundreds of different populations, any treatment can only be provided in broad strokes...

. The term "secular Jewish culture" therefore refers to many aspects, including: Religion and World View, Literature, Media, and Cinema, Art and building Architecture, Cuisine and Traditional Dress, attitudes to Gender, Marriage, and Family, Social Customs and Lifestyles, Music and Dance. "Secular Judaism," is a distinct phenomenon related to Jewish secularization - a historical process of divesting all of these elements of culture from their religious beliefs and practices.

Secular Judaism arose out of the Haskalah
Haskalah
Haskalah , the Jewish Enlightenment, was a movement among European Jews in the 18th–19th centuries that advocated adopting enlightenment values, pressing for better integration into European society, and increasing education in secular studies, Hebrew language, and Jewish history...

, or Jewish Enlightenment, which was itself driven by the values of the European Enlightenment. The history of Jewish secularization was an under-studied subject until late-20th century. In recent years, however, it has become its own academic field of study, encompassing Jewish Studies, History, Literature, Sociology, and Linguistics. Historian David Biale has traced the roots of Jewish secularism back to the premodern era. He, and other scholars focus more on Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza
Baruch Spinoza
Baruch de Spinoza and later Benedict de Spinoza was a Dutch Jewish philosopher. Revealing considerable scientific aptitude, the breadth and importance of Spinoza's work was not fully realized until years after his death...

, who was dubbed "the renegade Jew who gave us modernity" by scholar and novelist Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
Rebecca Goldstein
Rebecca Goldstein is an American novelist and professor of philosophy. She has written five novels, a number of short stories and essays, and biographical studies of mathematician Kurt Gödel and philosopher Baruch Spinoza....

 in an intellectual biography of him. Today, the subject of Jewish secularization is taught, and researched, at many North American and Israeli universities, including Harvard, Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University is a public university located in Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel. With nearly 30,000 students, TAU is Israel's largest university.-History:...

, UCLA, Temple University
Temple University
Temple University is a comprehensive public research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Originally founded in 1884 by Dr. Russell Conwell, Temple University is among the nation's largest providers of professional education and prepares the largest body of professional...

 and City University of New York
City University of New York
The City University of New York is the public university system of New York City, with its administrative offices in Yorkville in Manhattan. It is the largest urban university in the United States, consisting of 23 institutions: 11 senior colleges, six community colleges, the William E...

 which have significant Jewish alumni. Additionally, many schools include the academic study
Jewish studies
Jewish studies is an academic discipline centered on the study of Jews and Judaism. Jewish studies is interdisciplinary and combines aspects of history , religious studies, archeology, sociology, languages , political science, area studies, women's studies, and ethnic studies...

 of Judaism and Jewish culture in their curricula.

Throughout history, in eras and places as diverse as the ancient Hellenic
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 world, in Europe before and after the Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

, in Islamic Spain and Portugal
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

, in North Africa and the Middle East, in India
Indian Jews
The history of the Jews in India reaches back to ancient times.Indian Jews are a religious minority of India. Judaism was one of the first foreign religions to arrive in India in recorded history. The better-established ancient communities have assimilated a large number of local traditions through...

 and China
Chinese Jews
Chinese Jews may refer to:*History of the Jews in China*Kaifeng Jews...

, and in the contemporary United States and Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Jewish communities have seen the development of cultural phenomena that are characteristically Jewish without being at all specifically religious. Some factors in this come from within Judaism, others from the interaction of Jews with host populations in the Diasporas
Jewish diaspora
The Jewish diaspora is the English term used to describe the Galut גלות , or 'exile', of the Jews from the region of the Kingdom of Judah and Roman Iudaea and later emigration from wider Eretz Israel....

, and others from the inner social and cultural dynamics of the community, as opposed to religion itself. This phenomenon has led to considerably different Jewish cultures unique to their own communities.

History

There has not been a political unity of Jewish society since the united monarchy. Since then Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

 populations were always geographically dispersed (see Jewish diaspora
Jewish diaspora
The Jewish diaspora is the English term used to describe the Galut גלות , or 'exile', of the Jews from the region of the Kingdom of Judah and Roman Iudaea and later emigration from wider Eretz Israel....

), so that by the 19th century the Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim , are the Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities along the Rhine in Germany from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north. Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for this region and thus for Germany...

 were mainly in Eastern
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 and Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

; the Sephardi Jews
Sephardi Jews
Sephardi Jews is a general term referring to the descendants of the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in the Spanish Inquisition. It can also refer to those who use a Sephardic style of liturgy or would otherwise define themselves in terms of the Jewish customs and...

 were largely spread among various communities in the Mediterranean region; Mizrahi Jews
Mizrahi Jews
Mizrahi Jews or Mizrahiyim, , also referred to as Adot HaMizrach are Jews descended from the Jewish communities of the Middle East, North Africa and the Caucasus...

 were primarily spread throughout Western Asia; and other populations of Jews were in Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

, Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

, the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

, and India. (See Jewish ethnic divisions
Jewish ethnic divisions
Jewish ethnic divisions refers to a number of distinct communities within the world's ethnically Jewish population. Although considered one single self-identifying ethnicity, there are distinct ethnic divisions among Jews, most of which are primarily the result of geographic branching from an...

.)

Although there was a high degree of communication and traffic between these communities — many Sephardic exiles blended into the Central European Ashkenazi community following the Spanish Inquisition
Spanish Inquisition
The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition , commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition , was a tribunal established in 1480 by Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. It was intended to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdoms, and to replace the Medieval...

; many Ashkenazim migrated to the Ottoman Empire, giving rise to the characteristic Syrian-Jewish family name "Ashkenazi"; Iraqi-Jewish traders formed a distinct Jewish community in India; many of these populations were cut off to some degree from the surrounding cultures by ghetto
Ghetto
A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

ization, by Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 laws of dhimma
Dhimmi
A , is a non-Muslim subject of a state governed in accordance with sharia law. Linguistically, the word means "one whose responsibility has been taken". This has to be understood in the context of the definition of state in Islam...

, and traditional discouragement of contact with polytheistic
Idolatry
Idolatry is a pejorative term for the worship of an idol, a physical object such as a cult image, as a god, or practices believed to verge on worship, such as giving undue honour and regard to created forms other than God. In all the Abrahamic religions idolatry is strongly forbidden, although...

 populations.

Medieval Jewish communities in Eastern Europe continued to display distinct cultural traits over the centuries. Despite the universalist leanings of the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 (and its echo within Judaism in the Haskalah
Haskalah
Haskalah , the Jewish Enlightenment, was a movement among European Jews in the 18th–19th centuries that advocated adopting enlightenment values, pressing for better integration into European society, and increasing education in secular studies, Hebrew language, and Jewish history...

 movement), many Yiddish-speaking Jews in Eastern Europe continued to see themselves as forming a distinct national group — " 'am yehudi", from the Biblical Hebrew — but, adapting this idea to European Enlightenment values, they assimilated the concept as that of an ethnic group whose identity did not depend on religion, which under Enlightenment thinking fell under a separate category.

Constantin Măciucă writes of "a differentiated but not isolated Jewish spirit" permeating the culture of Yiddish-speaking Jews. This was only intensified as the rise of Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 amplified the sense of national identity
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 across Europe generally. Thus, for example, members of the General Jewish Labour Bund in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were generally non-religious, and one of the historical leaders of the Bund was the child of converts to Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, though not a practising or believing Christian himself.

The Haskalah
Haskalah
Haskalah , the Jewish Enlightenment, was a movement among European Jews in the 18th–19th centuries that advocated adopting enlightenment values, pressing for better integration into European society, and increasing education in secular studies, Hebrew language, and Jewish history...

 combined with the Jewish Emancipation
Jewish Emancipation
Jewish emancipation was the external and internal process of freeing the Jewish people of Europe, including recognition of their rights as equal citizens, and the formal granting of citizenship as individuals; it occurred gradually between the late 18th century and the early 20th century...

 movement under way in Central and Western Europe to create an opportunity for Jews to enter secular society. At the same time, pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

s in Eastern Europe provoked a surge of migration, in large part to the United States, where some 2 million Jewish immigrants resettled between 1880 and 1920.
By 1931, shortly before The Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

, 92% of the World's Jewish population was Ashkenazi in origin. Secularism originated in Europe as series of movements that militated for a new, heretofore unheard-of concept called "secular Judaism". For these reasons, much of what is thought of by English-speakers and, to a lesser extent, by non-English-speaking Europeans as "secular Jewish culture" is, in essence, the Jewish cultural movement that evolved in Central and Eastern Europe, and subsequently brought to North America by immigrants.
During the 1940s, the Holocaust uprooted and destroyed most of the European Jewish population. This, in combination with the creation of the State of Israel and the consequent Jewish exodus from Arab lands
Jewish exodus from Arab lands
The Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries was a mass departure, flight and expulsion of Jews, primarily of Sephardi and Mizrahi background, from Arab and Muslim countries, from 1948 until the early 1970s...

, resulted in a further geographic shift.

Defining secular culture among those who practice traditional Judaism is difficult, because the entire culture is, by definition, entwined with religious traditions: the idea of separate ethnic and religious identity is foreign to the Hebrew tradition of an " 'am yisrael". (This is particularly true for Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

.) Gary Tobin, head of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, said of traditional Jewish culture:
The dichotomy between religion and culture doesn’t really exist. Every religious attribute is filled with culture; every cultural act filled with religiosity. Synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

s themselves are great centers of Jewish culture. After all, what is life really about? Food, relationships, enrichment … So is Jewish life. So many of our traditions inherently contain aspects of culture. Look at the Passover Seder
Passover Seder
The Passover Seder is a Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover. It is conducted on the evenings of the 14th day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, and on the 15th by traditionally observant Jews living outside Israel. This corresponds to late March or April in...

 — it's essentially great theater. Jewish education and religiosity bereft of culture is not as interesting.


Yaakov Malkin
Yaakov Malkin
Yaakov Malkin is an intellectual, educator, writer, literary critic, and professor emeritus in the Faculty of Arts at Tel Aviv University. Malkin is active in several cultural and educational institutions that deal with cultural and humanistic Judaism....

, Professor of Aesthetics and Rhetoric at Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University is a public university located in Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel. With nearly 30,000 students, TAU is Israel's largest university.-History:...

 and the founder and academic director of Meitar College for Judaism as Culture in Jerusalem, writes:
Today very many secular Jews take part in Jewish cultural activities, such as celebrating Jewish holidays as historical and nature festivals, imbued with new content and form, or marking life-cycle events such as birth, bar/bat mitzvah, marriage, and mourning in a secular fashion. They come together to study topics pertaining to Jewish culture and its relation to other cultures, in havurot, cultural associations, and secular synagogues, and they participate in public and political action co-ordinated by secular Jewish movements, such as the former movement to free Soviet Jews, and movements to combat pogroms, discrimination, and religious coercion. Jewish secular humanistic
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

 education inculcates universal moral values through classic Jewish and world literature and through organizations for social change that aspire to ideals of justice and charity.


In North America, the secular and cultural Jewish movements are divided into three umbrella organizations: the Society for Humanistic Judaism
Society for Humanistic Judaism
The Society for Humanistic Judaism, founded in 1969 by Rabbi Sherwin Wine embraces a human-centered philosophy that combines the celebration of Jewish culture and identity with an adherence to humanistic values and ideas....

 (SHJ), the Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations (CSJO), and Workmen's Circle.

Cuisine and traditional dress

Jewish cooking
Cooking
Cooking is the process of preparing food by use of heat. Cooking techniques and ingredients vary widely across the world, reflecting unique environmental, economic, and cultural traditions. Cooks themselves also vary widely in skill and training...

 combines the food of many cultures in which Jews have traveled, including Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Spanish, German and Eastern European styles of cooking, all influenced by the need for food to be kosher. Thus, "Jewish" foods like hummus
Hummus
Hummus is high in iron and vitamin C and also has significant amounts of folate and vitamin B6. The chickpeas make it a good source of protein and dietary fiber; the tahini consists mostly of sesame seeds, which are an excellent source of the amino acid methionine, complementing the proteins in the...

, stuffed cabbage, and blintz
Blintz
A blin, blintze, or blintz is a thin pancake. It is somewhat similar to a crêpe with the main difference being that yeast may be used in blini, but not in crêpes.-Etymology, origins, culture :...

es all come from various other cultures. The amalgam of these foods, plus uniquely Jewish contributions like bagels, tzimmis, cholent
Cholent
Cholent or Hamin is a traditional Jewish stew. It is usually simmered overnight for 12 hours or more, and eaten for lunch on Shabbat . Cholent was developed over the centuries to conform with Jewish religious laws that prohibit cooking on the Sabbath...

, gefilte fish
Gefilte fish
Gefilte fish is a poached fish mince stuffed into the fish skin.More common since the Second World War are the Polish patties similar to quenelles or fish balls made from a mixture of ground deboned fish, mostly carp or pike...

 and matzah balls
Matzah balls
Matzah balls are a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish dumpling made from matzah meal.Some recipes may add a number of ingredients, such as stock and seasonings for taste, or seltzer or baking powder for fluffiness. Traditionally, the fat had been schmaltz , which imparts a distinctive flavor, but...

, make up Jewish cuisine.

People and education

See main article Jewish political movements
Jewish political movements
Jewish political movements refer to the organized efforts of Jews to build their own political parties or otherwise represent their interest in politics outside of the Jewish community...

.

A range of moral and political views in Judaism is evident even in the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

, and early
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

 Jewish history that serves to educate the diversity that is even more apparent among secular Jews who are often strongly influenced by moral beliefs deriving from Jewish scripture, religious practices and traditions. In recent centuries, secular Jews in Europe and the Americas have tended towards the liberal political left
Left-wing politics
In politics, Left, left-wing and leftist generally refer to support for social change to create a more egalitarian society...

, and played key roles in the birth of the 19th century's labor movement and socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

. While Diaspora Jews have also been represented in the conservative
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 side of the political spectrum, even politically conservative Jews have tended to support pluralism
Jewish views of religious pluralism
Religious pluralism is a set of religious world views that hold that one's religion is not the sole and exclusive source of truth, and thus recognizes that some level of truth and value exists in other religions...

 more consistently than many other elements of the political right
Right-wing politics
In politics, Right, right-wing and rightist generally refer to support for a hierarchical society justified on the basis of an appeal to natural law or tradition. To varying degrees, the Right rejects the egalitarian objectives of left-wing politics, claiming that the imposition of equality is...

. Some scholars attribute this to the fact that Jews are not expected to proselytize, derived from Halakha
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

. This lack of a universalizing religion is combined with the fact that most Jews live as minorities in diaspora countries, and that no central Jewish religious authority has existed since 363 CE. (See also list of Jews in politics, which illustrates the diversity of Jewish political thought and of the roles Jews have played in politics.)

Economic participation

In the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, European laws prevented Jews from owning land and gave them powerful incentive to go into other professions that Europeans were not willing to do. During the medieval period, there was a very strong social stigma against lending money and charging interest among the Christian majority. In most of Europe until the late 18th century, and in some places to an even later date, Jews were prohibited by Roman Catholic governments (and others) from owning land. On the other hand, the Church, because of a number of Bible verses (e.g., Leviticus
Leviticus
The Book of Leviticus is the third book of the Hebrew Bible, and the third of five books of the Torah ....

 25:36) forbidding usury
Usury
Usury Originally, when the charging of interest was still banned by Christian churches, usury simply meant the charging of interest at any rate . In countries where the charging of interest became acceptable, the term came to be used for interest above the rate allowed by law...

, declared that charging any interest
Interest
Interest is a fee paid by a borrower of assets to the owner as a form of compensation for the use of the assets. It is most commonly the price paid for the use of borrowed money, or money earned by deposited funds....

 was against the divine law, and this prevented any mercantile use of capital
Capital (economics)
In economics, capital, capital goods, or real capital refers to already-produced durable goods used in production of goods or services. The capital goods are not significantly consumed, though they may depreciate in the production process...

 by pious Christians. As the Canon law
Canon law (Catholic Church)
The canon law of the Catholic Church, is a fully developed legal system, with all the necessary elements: courts, lawyers, judges, a fully articulated legal code and principles of legal interpretation. It lacks the necessary binding force present in most modern day legal systems. The academic...

 did not apply to Jews, they were not liable to the ecclesiastical punishments which were placed upon usurers
Usury
Usury Originally, when the charging of interest was still banned by Christian churches, usury simply meant the charging of interest at any rate . In countries where the charging of interest became acceptable, the term came to be used for interest above the rate allowed by law...

 by the pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

s. Christian rulers gradually saw the advantage of having a class of men like the Jews who could supply capital for their use without being liable to excommunication
Excommunication
Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

, and so the money trade of western Europe by this means fell into the hands of the Jews.

However, in almost every instance where large amounts were acquired by Jews through banking transactions the property thus acquired fell either during their life or upon their death into the hands of the king. This happened to Aaron of Lincoln
Aaron of Lincoln
Aaron of Lincoln was an English Jewish financier . He is believed to have been the wealthiest man in 12th century Britain; it is estimated that his wealth exceeded that of the King. He is first mentioned in the English pipe-roll of 1166 as creditor of King Henry II for sums amounting to £616 12s...

 in England, Ezmel de Ablitas
Ezmel de Ablitas
Ezmel de Ablitas , "the rich Jew of Ablitas", had business relations with the King of Navarre and Aragon. He was the son of Don Juceph; and was born in the village of Ablitas, near Tudela, from which place he derived his name....

 in Navarre
Navarre
Navarre , officially the Chartered Community of Navarre is an autonomous community in northern Spain, bordering the Basque Country, La Rioja, and Aragon in Spain and Aquitaine in France...

, Heliot de Vesoul in Provence
Provence
Provence ; Provençal: Provença in classical norm or Prouvènço in Mistralian norm) is a region of south eastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. It is part of the administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur...

, Benveniste de Porta
Benveniste de Porta
Benveniste de Porta was the Jewish batlle of Barcelona and a brother of Nahmanides.Benveniste was an important capitalist of Barcelona and advanced money to King Jaume I of Aragon, mainly on the security of the municipal dues owed to the king...

 in Aragon
Aragon
Aragon is a modern autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon. Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces : Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza...

, etc. It was often for this reason that kings supported the Jews, and even objected to them becoming Christians (because in that case they could not be forced to give up money won by usury). Thus, both in England and in France the kings demanded to be compensated for every Jew converted. This type of royal trickery was one factor in creating the stereotypical Jewish role of banker and/or merchant.

As a modern system of capital
Capital (economics)
In economics, capital, capital goods, or real capital refers to already-produced durable goods used in production of goods or services. The capital goods are not significantly consumed, though they may depreciate in the production process...

 began to develop, loans became necessary for commerce and industry. Jews were able to gain a foothold in the new field of finance by providing these services: as non-Catholics, they were not bound by the ecclesiastical prohibition against "usury"; and in terms of Judaism itself, Hillel
Hillel the Elder
Hillel was a famous Jewish religious leader, one of the most important figures in Jewish history. He is associated with the development of the Mishnah and the Talmud...

 had long ago re-interpreted the Torah's ban on charging interest.

Medicine, science, and academia

The strong Jewish tradition of religious scholarship often left Jews well prepared for secular scholarship. In some times and places, this was countered by banning Jews from studying at universities
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

, or admitted them only in limited numbers (see Jewish quota
Jewish quota
Jewish quota was a percentage that limited the number of Jews in various establishments. In particular, in 19th and 20th centuries some countries had Jewish quotas for higher education, a special case of Numerus clausus....

). In medieval and early modern times, Jews were disproportionately prevalent among court physicians. Even in recent times, Jews have been poorly represented among land-holding classes, but far better represented in academia, professions, finance, and commerce. The strong representation of Jews in science and academia is evidenced by the fact that 167 persons known to be Jews or of Jewish ancestry have been awarded the Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

, accounting for 22% of all individual recipients worldwide between 1901 and 2004.

Literature, media, and performing arts

In some places where there have been relatively high concentrations of Jews, distinct secular Jewish subcultures have arisen. For example, ethnic Jews formed an enormous proportion of the literary and artistic life of Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, Austria at the end of the 19th century, or of New York City 50 years later (and Los Angeles in the mid-late 20th century). Many of these creative Jews were not particularly religious people. In general, Jewish artistic culture in various periods reflected the culture in which they lived.

Literature

Literary and theatrical expressions of secular Jewish culture may be in specifically Jewish languages such as Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

, Yiddish
Yiddish language
Yiddish is a High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages...

 or Ladino, or it may be in the language of the surrounding cultures, such as English or German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

. Secular literature and theater in Yiddish largely began in the 19th century and was in decline by the middle of the 20th century. The revival of Hebrew beyond its use in the liturgy is largely an early 20th-century phenomenon, and is closely associated with Zionism
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

. Apart from the use of Hebrew in Israel, whether a Jewish community will speak a Jewish or non-Jewish language as its main vehicle of discourse
Discourse
Discourse generally refers to "written or spoken communication". The following are three more specific definitions:...

 is generally dependent on how isolated or assimilated that community is. For example, the Jews in the shtetls of Poland and the Lower East Side
Lower East Side
The Lower East Side, LES, is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is roughly bounded by Allen Street, East Houston Street, Essex Street, Canal Street, Eldridge Street, East Broadway, and Grand Street....

 of New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 during the early 20th century spoke Yiddish at most times, while assimilated Jews in 19th and early 20th-century Germany spoke German, and American-born Jews in the United States speak English.
See main articles Yiddish literature
Yiddish literature
Yiddish literature encompasses all belles lettres written in Yiddish, the language of Ashkenazic Jewry which is related to Middle High German. The history of Yiddish, with its roots in central Europe and locus for centuries in Eastern Europe, is evident in its literature.It is generally described...

, Ladino literature, Hebrew literature
Hebrew literature
Hebrew literature consists of ancient, medieval, and modern writings in the Hebrew language. It is one of the primary forms of Jewish literature, though there have been cases of literature written in Hebrew by non-Jews...

, Jewish American literature
Jewish American literature
Jewish American Literature holds an essential place in the literary history of the United States. It encompasses traditions of writing in English, primarily, as well as in other languages, the most important of which has been Yiddish...

, Jewish literature
Jewish literature
Jewish Literature refers to works written by Jews on Jewish themes, literary works of various themes written in Jewish languages, or literary works in other languages written by Jewish writers. Ancient Jewish literature includes Biblical literature and rabbinic literature...

. Also see Jews in literature and journalism.

Humor

Jewish humor is the long tradition of humor in Judaism dating back to the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 and the Midrash
Midrash
The Hebrew term Midrash is a homiletic method of biblical exegesis. The term also refers to the whole compilation of homiletic teachings on the Bible....

, but generally refers to the more recent stream of verbal, frequently self-deprecating and often anecdotal humor originating in Eastern Europe. Jewish humor took root in the United States over the last hundred years, beginning with vaudeville
Vaudeville
Vaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill...

, and continuing through radio, stand-up, film, and television. A significant number of American comedians have been or are Jewish.

General literature

Jewish authors have both created a unique Jewish literature
Jewish literature
Jewish Literature refers to works written by Jews on Jewish themes, literary works of various themes written in Jewish languages, or literary works in other languages written by Jewish writers. Ancient Jewish literature includes Biblical literature and rabbinic literature...

 and contributed to the national literatures of many of the countries in which they live. Though not strictly secular, the Yiddish works of authors like Sholem Aleichem (whose collected works amounted to 28 volumes) and Isaac Bashevis Singer
Isaac Bashevis Singer
Isaac Bashevis Singer – July 24, 1991) was a Polish Jewish American author noted for his short stories. He was one of the leading figures in the Yiddish literary movement, and received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978...

 (winner of the 1978 Nobel Prize), form their own canon, focusing on the Jewish experience in both Eastern Europe, and in America. In the United States, Jewish writers like Philip Roth
Philip Roth
Philip Milton Roth is an American novelist. He gained fame with the 1959 novella Goodbye, Columbus, an irreverent and humorous portrait of Jewish-American life that earned him a National Book Award...

, Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow was a Canadian-born Jewish American writer. For his literary contributions, Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts...

, and many others are considered among the greatest American authors, and incorporate a distinctly secular Jewish view into many of their works. The poetry of Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg
Irwin Allen Ginsberg was an American poet and one of the leading figures of the Beat Generation in the 1950s. He vigorously opposed militarism, materialism and sexual repression...

 often touches on Jewish themes (notably the early autobiographical works such as Howl
Howl
"Howl" is a poem written by Allen Ginsberg in 1955 and published as part of his 1956 collection of poetry titled Howl and Other Poems. The poem is considered to be one of the great works of the Beat Generation, along with Jack Kerouac's On the Road and William S. Burroughs's Naked Lunch...

and Kaddish
Kaddish (poem)
Kaddish also known as Kaddish for Naomi Ginsberg is a poem by Beat writer Allen Ginsberg about his mother Naomi and her death on June 9, 1956.-Background:...

). Other famous Jewish authors that made contributions to world literature include Heinrich Heine
Heinrich Heine
Christian Johann Heinrich Heine was one of the most significant German poets of the 19th century. He was also a journalist, essayist, and literary critic. He is best known outside Germany for his early lyric poetry, which was set to music in the form of Lieder by composers such as Robert Schumann...

, German poet, Mordecai Richler
Mordecai Richler
Mordecai Richler, CC was a Canadian Jewish author, screenwriter and essayist. A leading critic called him "the great shining star of his Canadian literary generation" and a pivotal figure in the country's history. His best known works are The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Barney's Version,...

, Canadian author, Isaac Babel
Isaac Babel
Isaak Emmanuilovich Babel was a Russian language journalist, playwright, literary translator, and short story writer. He is best known as the author of Red Cavalry, Story of My Dovecote, and Tales of Odessa, all of which are considered masterpieces of Russian literature...

, Russian author, Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka was a culturally influential German-language author of short stories and novels. Contemporary critics and academics, including Vladimir Nabokov, regard Kafka as one of the best writers of the 20th century...

, of Prague, and Harry Mulisch
Harry Mulisch
Harry Kurt Victor Mulisch was a Dutch author. He wrote more than 80 novels, plays, essays, poems and philosophical reflections. These have been translated into more than 20 languages....

, sometimes referred to as the best Dutch writer ever.

In Modern Judaism: An Oxford Guide, Yaakov Malkin
Yaakov Malkin
Yaakov Malkin is an intellectual, educator, writer, literary critic, and professor emeritus in the Faculty of Arts at Tel Aviv University. Malkin is active in several cultural and educational institutions that deal with cultural and humanistic Judaism....

, Professor of Aesthetics and Rhetoric at Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University is a public university located in Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel. With nearly 30,000 students, TAU is Israel's largest university.-History:...

 and the founder and academic director of Meitar College for Judaism as Culture in Jerusalem, writes:
Secular Jewish culture embraces literary works that have stood the test of time as sources of aesthetic pleasure and ideas shared by Jews and non-Jews, works that live on beyond the immediate socio-cultural context within which they were created. They include the writings of such Jewish authors as Sholem Aleichem, Itzik Manger
Itzik Manger
Itzik Manger was a prominent Yiddish poet and playwright, a self-proclaimed folk bard, visionary, and ‘master tailor’ of the written word...

, Isaac Bashevis Singer
Isaac Bashevis Singer
Isaac Bashevis Singer – July 24, 1991) was a Polish Jewish American author noted for his short stories. He was one of the leading figures in the Yiddish literary movement, and received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978...

, Philip Roth
Philip Roth
Philip Milton Roth is an American novelist. He gained fame with the 1959 novella Goodbye, Columbus, an irreverent and humorous portrait of Jewish-American life that earned him a National Book Award...

, Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow was a Canadian-born Jewish American writer. For his literary contributions, Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts...

, S.Y. Agnon, Isaac Babel
Isaac Babel
Isaak Emmanuilovich Babel was a Russian language journalist, playwright, literary translator, and short story writer. He is best known as the author of Red Cavalry, Story of My Dovecote, and Tales of Odessa, all of which are considered masterpieces of Russian literature...

, Martin Buber
Martin Buber
Martin Buber was an Austrian-born Jewish philosopher best known for his philosophy of dialogue, a form of religious existentialism centered on the distinction between the I-Thou relationship and the I-It relationship....

, Isaiah Berlin
Isaiah Berlin
Sir Isaiah Berlin OM, FBA was a British social and political theorist, philosopher and historian of ideas of Russian-Jewish origin, regarded as one of the leading thinkers of the twentieth century and a dominant liberal scholar of his generation...

, Haim Nahman Bialik, Yehuda Amichai
Yehuda Amichai
Yehuda Amichai was an Israeli poet. Amichai is considered by many, both in Israel and internationally, as Israel's greatest modern poet. He was also one of the first to write in colloquial Hebrew....

, Amos Oz
Amos Oz
Amos Oz is an Israeli writer, novelist, and journalist. He is also a professor of literature at Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva....

, A.B. Yehoshua, and David Grossman
David Grossman
David Grossman is an Israeli author. His books have been translated into more than 30 languages, and have won numerous prizes.He is also a noted activist and critic of Israeli policy toward Palestinians. The Yellow Wind, his non-fiction study of the life of Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied...

. It boasts masterpieces that have had a considerable influence on all of western culture, Jewish culture included - works such as those of Heinrich Heine
Heinrich Heine
Christian Johann Heinrich Heine was one of the most significant German poets of the 19th century. He was also a journalist, essayist, and literary critic. He is best known outside Germany for his early lyric poetry, which was set to music in the form of Lieder by composers such as Robert Schumann...

, Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. He was born in the village of Kalischt, Bohemia, in what was then Austria-Hungary, now Kaliště in the Czech Republic...

, Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990) was an American conductor, composer, author, music lecturer and pianist. He was among the first conductors born and educated in the United States of America to receive worldwide acclaim...

, Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall Art critic Robert Hughes referred to Chagall as "the quintessential Jewish artist of the twentieth century."According to art historian Michael J...

, Jacob Epstein
Jacob Epstein
Sir Jacob Epstein KBE was an American-born British sculptor who helped pioneer modern sculpture. He was born in the United States, and moved to Europe in 1902, becoming a British citizen in 1911. He often produced controversial works which challenged taboos on what was appropriate subject matter...

, Ben Shahn
Ben Shahn
Ben Shahn was a Lithuanian-born American artist. He is best known for his works of social realism, his left-wing political views, and his series of lectures published as The Shape of Content.-Biography:...

, Amedeo Modigliani
Amedeo Modigliani
Amedeo Clemente Modigliani was an Italian painter and sculptor who worked mainly in France. Primarily a figurative artist, he became known for paintings and sculptures in a modern style characterized by mask-like faces and elongation of form...

, Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka was a culturally influential German-language author of short stories and novels. Contemporary critics and academics, including Vladimir Nabokov, regard Kafka as one of the best writers of the 20th century...

, Max Reinhardt (Goldman)
Max Reinhardt (theatre director)
----Max Reinhardt was an Austrian theater and film director and actor.-Biography:...

, Ernst Lubitsch
Ernst Lubitsch
Ernst Lubitsch was a German-born film director. His urbane comedies of manners gave him the reputation of being Hollywood's most elegant and sophisticated director; as his prestige grew, his films were promoted as having "the Lubitsch touch."In 1947 he received an Honorary Academy Award for his...

, and Woody Allen
Woody Allen
Woody Allen is an American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, jazz musician, author, and playwright. Allen's films draw heavily on literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity, and the history of cinema...

.

Yiddish theatre

The Ukrainian
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 Jew Abraham Goldfaden
Abraham Goldfaden
Abraham Goldfaden ; was an Russian-born Jewish poet, playwright, stage director and actor in the languages Yiddish and Hebrew, author of some 40 plays.Goldfaden is considered the father of the Jewish modern theatre.In 1876 he founded in...

 founded the first professional Yiddish-language
Yiddish language
Yiddish is a High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages...

 theatre troupe in Iaşi
Iasi
Iași is the second most populous city and a municipality in Romania. Located in the historical Moldavia region, Iași has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Romanian social, cultural, academic and artistic life...

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 in 1876. The next year, his troupe achieved enormous success in Bucharest
Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

. Within a decade, Goldfaden and others brought Yiddish theater to Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Germany, New York City, and other cities with significant Ashkenazic populations. Between 1890 and 1940, over a dozen Yiddish theatre groups existed in New York City alone, performing original plays
Play (theatre)
A play is a form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of scripted dialogue between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference whether their plays were performed...

, musicals
Musical theatre
Musical theatre is a form of theatre combining songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The emotional content of the piece – humor, pathos, love, anger – as well as the story itself, is communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an...

, and Yiddish translations of theatrical works and opera
Opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

. Perhaps the most famous of Yiddish-language plays is The Dybbuk (1919) by S. Ansky.

Yiddish theater in New York in the early 20th century rivalled English-language theater in quantity and often surpassed it in quality. A 1925 New York Times article remarks, "…Yiddish theater… is now a stable American institution and no longer dependent on immigration from Eastern Europe. People who can neither speak nor write Yiddish attend Yiddish stage performances and pay Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

 prices on Second Avenue
Second Avenue (Manhattan)
Second Avenue is an avenue on the East Side of the New York City borough of Manhattan extending from Houston Street at its south end to the Harlem River Drive at 128th Street at its north end. A one-way street, vehicular traffic runs only downtown. A bicycle lane in the left hand portion from 55th...

." This article also mentions other aspects of a New York Jewish cultural life "in full flower" at that time, among them the fact that the extensive New York Yiddish-language press of the time included seven daily newspapers.

In fact, however, the next generation of American Jews spoke mainly English to the exclusion of Yiddish; they brought the artistic energy of Yiddish theater into the American theatrical mainstream, but usually in a less specifically Jewish form.

Yiddish theater, most notably Moscow State Jewish Theater
Moscow State Jewish Theater
The Moscow State Jewish Theater, Russian language: Московский Государственный Еврейский Театр, also known by its acronym GOSET: ГОСЕТ) was a Yiddish theater company established in 1919 and shut down in 1948 by the Soviet authorities....

 directed by Solomon Mikhoels
Solomon Mikhoels
Solomon Mikhoels ; was a Soviet Jewish actor and the artistic director of the Moscow State Jewish Theater. Mikhoels served as the chairman of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee during the Second World War...

, also played a prominent role in the arts scene of the Soviet Union until Stalin's 1948 reversal in government policy toward the Jews. (See Rootless cosmopolitan
Rootless cosmopolitan
Rootless cosmopolitan was a Soviet euphemism widely used during Joseph Stalin's anti-Semitic campaign of 1948–1953, which culminated in the "exposure" of the alleged Doctors' plot...

, Night of the Murdered Poets
Night of the Murdered Poets
On August 12, 1952, thirteen Soviet Jews were executed in the Lubyanka Prison in Moscow, Russia as a result of charges of espionage based on forced, false confessions resulting from coercion and torture. This massacre is known as the Night of the Murdered Poets....

.)

Montreal's Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre
Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre
The Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre, a branch ofMontreal's Segal Centre for Performing Arts was founded in 1958 by Dora Wasserman , a Ukrainian actress, playwright, and theatre director.Their first play was The Innkeeper....

 continues to thrive after 50 years of performance.

European theatre

From their Emancipation
Jewish Emancipation
Jewish emancipation was the external and internal process of freeing the Jewish people of Europe, including recognition of their rights as equal citizens, and the formal granting of citizenship as individuals; it occurred gradually between the late 18th century and the early 20th century...

 to World War II, Jews were very active and sometimes even dominant in certain forms of European theatre, and after the Holocaust many Jews continued to that cultural form. For example, in pre-Nazi Germany, where Nietzsche asked "What good actor of today is not Jewish?", acting, directing and writing positions were often filled by Jews. Both MacDonald and Jewish Tribal Review would generally be counted as anti-Semitic sources, but reasonably careful in their factual claims. "In Imperial Berlin, Jewish artists could be found in the forefront of the performing arts, from high drama to more popular forms like cabaret
Cabaret
Cabaret is a form, or place, of entertainment featuring comedy, song, dance, and theatre, distinguished mainly by the performance venue: a restaurant or nightclub with a stage for performances and the audience sitting at tables watching the performance, as introduced by a master of ceremonies or...

 and revue
Revue
A revue is a type of multi-act popular theatrical entertainment that combines music, dance and sketches. The revue has its roots in 19th century American popular entertainment and melodrama but grew into a substantial cultural presence of its own during its golden years from 1916 to 1932...

, and eventually film. Jewish audiences patronized innovative theater, regardless of whether they approved of what they saw." The British historian Paul Johnson, commenting on Jewish contributions to European culture at the fin de siècle
Fin de siècle
Fin de siècle is French for "end of the century". The term sometimes encompasses both the closing and onset of an era, as it was felt to be a period of degeneration, but at the same time a period of hope for a new beginning...

, writes that
The area where Jewish influence was strongest was the theatre, especially in Berlin. Playwrights like Carl Sternheim
Carl Sternheim
Carl Sternheim was a German playwright and short story writer. One of the major exponents of German Expressionism, he especially satirized the moral sensibilities of the emerging German middle class during the Wilhelmine period.-Biography:Born in Leipzig to a Jewish banker and his Protestant wife...

, Arthur Schnitzler
Arthur Schnitzler
Dr. Arthur Schnitzler was an Austrian author and dramatist.- Biography :Arthur Schnitzler, son of a prominent Hungarian-Jewish laryngologist Johann Schnitzler and Luise Markbreiter , was born in Praterstraße 16, Leopoldstadt, Vienna, in the Austro-Hungarian...

, Ernst Toller
Ernst Toller
Ernst Toller was a left-wing German playwright, best known for his Expressionist plays and serving as President of the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic, for six days.- Biography :...

, Erwin Piscator
Erwin Piscator
Erwin Friedrich Maximilian Piscator was a German theatre director and producer and, with Bertolt Brecht, the foremost exponent of epic theatre, a form that emphasizes the socio-political content of drama, rather than its emotional manipulation of the audience or on the production's formal...

, Walter Hasenclever
Walter Hasenclever
Walter Hasenclever was a German Expressionist poet and playwright.-Biography:...

, Ferenc Molnár
Ferenc Molnár
LanguageFerenc Molnár was a Hungarian dramatist and novelist. His Americanized name was Franz Molnar...

 and Carl Zuckmayer
Carl Zuckmayer
Carl Zuckmayer was a German writer and playwright.-Biography:Born in Nackenheim in Rheinhessen, he was four years old when his family moved to Mainz. With the outbreak of World War I, he finished school with a facilitated "emergency"-Abitur and volunteered for military service...

, and influential producers like Max Reinhardt
Max Reinhardt (theatre director)
----Max Reinhardt was an Austrian theater and film director and actor.-Biography:...

, appeared at times to dominate the stage, which tended to be modishly left-wing, pro-republican
Republicanism
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

, experimental and sexually daring. But it was certainly not revolutionary, and it was cosmopolitan rather than Jewish.

Jews also made similar, if not as massive, contributions to theatre and drama in Austria, Britain, France, and Russia (in the national languages of those countries). Jews in Vienna, Paris and German cities found cabaret
Cabaret
Cabaret is a form, or place, of entertainment featuring comedy, song, dance, and theatre, distinguished mainly by the performance venue: a restaurant or nightclub with a stage for performances and the audience sitting at tables watching the performance, as introduced by a master of ceremonies or...

 both a popular and effective means of expression, as German cabaret in the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

 "was mostly a Jewish art form". The involvement of Jews in Central European theatre was halted during the rise of the Nazis and the purging of Jews from cultural posts, though many emigrated to Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 or the United States and continued working there.

American English-language theatre

See also List of Jewish American musicals writers, List of Jewish Americans in theatre, List of Jewish American playwrights.


Yiddish theatre fed into the mainstream of American stage and film acting: the method acting
Method acting
Method acting is a phrase that loosely refers to a family of techniques used by actors to create in themselves the thoughts and emotions of their characters, so as to develop lifelike performances...

 of Konstantin Stanislavski
Konstantin Stanislavski
Constantin Sergeyevich Stanislavski , was a Russian actor and theatre director. Building on the directorially-unified aesthetic and ensemble playing of the Meiningen company and the naturalistic staging of Antoine and the independent theatre movement, Stanislavski organized his realistic...

 found its way to America through Jacob Adler
Jacob Pavlovich Adler
Jacob Pavlovich Adler , born Yankev P. Adler, was a Jewish actor and star of Yiddish theater, first in Odessa, and later in London and New York City....

; Adler's daughter Stella
Stella Adler
Stella Adler was an American actress and an acclaimed acting teacher, who founded the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York City and the The Stella Adler Academy of Acting in Los Angeles with long-time protege Joanne Linville, who continues to teach and furthers Adler's legacy...

 and son Luther
Luther Adler
Luther Adler was an American actor best known for his work in theatre, but who also worked in film and television. He also directed plays on Broadway.-Life and career:...

 were instrumental in the Group Theatre, two of whose three founders were also Jews. The list of Stella Adler's and Group Theatre founder Lee Strasberg
Lee Strasberg
Lee Strasberg was an American actor, director and acting teacher. He cofounded, with directors Harold Clurman and Cheryl Crawford, the Group Theatre in 1931, which was hailed as "America's first true theatrical collective"...

's students, mostly Gentiles, reads like a Who's Who of American acting: Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando, Jr. was an American movie star and political activist. "Unchallenged as the most important actor in modern American Cinema" according to the St...

, Jill Clayburgh
Jill Clayburgh
Jill Clayburgh was an American actress. She received Academy Award nominations for her roles in An Unmarried Woman and Starting Over.-Personal life:...

, James Dean
James Dean
James Byron Dean was an American film actor. He is a cultural icon, best embodied in the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause , in which he starred as troubled Los Angeles teenager Jim Stark...

, Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro, Jr. is an American actor, director and producer. His first major film roles were in Bang the Drum Slowly and Mean Streets, both in 1973...

, Paul Newman
Paul Newman
Paul Leonard Newman was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, professional racing driver and auto racing enthusiast...

, Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson
John Joseph "Jack" Nicholson is an American actor, film director, producer and writer. He is renowned for his often dark portrayals of neurotic characters. Nicholson has been nominated for an Academy Award twelve times, and has won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice: for One Flew Over the...

, Al Pacino
Al Pacino
Alfredo James "Al" Pacino is an American film and stage actor and director. He is famous for playing mobsters, including Michael Corleone in The Godfather trilogy, Tony Montana in Scarface, Alphonse "Big Boy" Caprice in Dick Tracy and Carlito Brigante in Carlito's Way, though he has also appeared...

, and Eva Marie Saint
Eva Marie Saint
Eva Marie Saint is an American actress who has starred in films, on Broadway, and on television in a career spanning seven decades. She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the drama film On the Waterfront , and later starred in the thriller film North by...

, to name just a few. Similarly, what Jewish composer John Kander
John Kander
John Harold Kander is the American composer of a number of musicals as part of the songwriting team of Kander and Ebb.-Life and career:Kander was born in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of Bernice and Harold S. Kander...

 calls an "interesting phenomenon that Broadway musical
Musical theatre
Musical theatre is a form of theatre combining songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The emotional content of the piece – humor, pathos, love, anger – as well as the story itself, is communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an...

 composers like Jerome Kern
Jerome Kern
Jerome David Kern was an American composer of musical theatre and popular music. One of the most important American theatre composers of the early 20th century, he wrote more than 700 songs, used in over 100 stage works, including such classics as "Ol' Man River", "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man", "A...

, George Gershwin
George Gershwin
George Gershwin was an American composer and pianist. Gershwin's compositions spanned both popular and classical genres, and his most popular melodies are widely known...

 and Marc Blitzstein
Marc Blitzstein
Marcus Samuel Blitzstein, better known as Marc Blitzstein , was an American composer. He won national attention in 1937 when his pro-union musical The Cradle Will Rock, directed by Orson Welles, was shut down by the Works Progress Administration...

 are predominantly Jewish" comes from "the tradition established from New York's Yiddish theater."
Not only have "Jewish
American Jews
American Jews, also known as Jewish Americans, are American citizens of the Jewish faith or Jewish ethnicity. The Jewish community in the United States is composed predominantly of Ashkenazi Jews who emigrated from Central and Eastern Europe, and their U.S.-born descendants...

 composers and lyricists always dominated Broadway musicals" in New York City, but they were instrumental in the creation and development of genre
Genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

 of musical theatre
Musical theatre
Musical theatre is a form of theatre combining songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The emotional content of the piece – humor, pathos, love, anger – as well as the story itself, is communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an...

 and earlier forms of theatrical entertainment, as well as contributing to non-musical theatre in the United States. According to University of Toronto
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada...

 English professor Andrea Most,
Almost all the American musicals in the 20th century were written by Jews and... the most compelling reason for this is that the musical offers a lot of strategies for exploring and performing new identities theatrically… the musical theater exists because of the unique historical situation of the Jews who created it"

Brandeis University
Brandeis University
Brandeis University is an American private research university with a liberal arts focus. It is located in the southwestern corner of Waltham, Massachusetts, nine miles west of Boston. The University has an enrollment of approximately 3,200 undergraduate and 2,100 graduate students. In 2011, it...

 Professor Stephen J. Whitfield has commented that "More so than behind the screen, the talent behind the stage was for over half a century virtually the monopoly of one ethnic group. That is... [a] feature which locates Broadway at the center of Jewish culture". New York University
New York University
New York University is a private, nonsectarian research university based in New York City. NYU's main campus is situated in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan...

 Professor Laurence Maslon says that "There would be no American musical without Jews… Their influence is corollary to the influence of black musicians on jazz; there were as many Jews involved in the form". Other writers, such as Jerome Caryn, have noted that musical theatre and other forms of American entertainment are uniquely indebted to the contributions of Jewish-Americans, since "there might not have been a modern Broadway without the "Asiatic horde" of comedians, gossip columnists, songwriters, and singers that grew out of the ghetto
Ghetto
A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

, whether it was on the Lower East Side
Lower East Side
The Lower East Side, LES, is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is roughly bounded by Allen Street, East Houston Street, Essex Street, Canal Street, Eldridge Street, East Broadway, and Grand Street....

, Harlem
Harlem
Harlem is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, which since the 1920s has been a major African-American residential, cultural and business center. Originally a Dutch village, formally organized in 1658, it is named after the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands...

 (a Jewish ghetto before it was a black one), Newark
Newark, New Jersey
Newark is the largest city in the American state of New Jersey, and the seat of Essex County. As of the 2010 United States Census, Newark had a population of 277,140, maintaining its status as the largest municipality in New Jersey. It is the 68th largest city in the U.S...

, or Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

." Likewise, in the analysis of Aaron Kula, director of The Klezmer Company,
"…the Jewish experience has always been best expressed by music, and Broadway has always been an integral part of the Jewish-American experience… The difference is that one can expand the definition of "Jewish Broadway" to include an interdisciplinary roadway with a wide range of artistic activities packed onto one avenue--theatre, opera, symphony, ballet, publishing companies, choirs, synagogues and more. This vibrant landscape reflects the life, times and creative output of the Jewish-American artist".


In the 19th and early 20th centuries the European operetta
Operetta
Operetta is a genre of light opera, light in terms both of music and subject matter. It is also closely related, in English-language works, to forms of musical theatre.-Origins:...

, a precursor the musical, often featured the work of Jewish composers such as Paul Abraham, Leo Ascher, Edmund Eysler, Leo Fall, Bruno Granichstaedten, Jacques Offenbach
Jacques Offenbach
Jacques Offenbach was a Prussian-born French composer, cellist and impresario. He is remembered for his nearly 100 operettas of the 1850s–1870s and his uncompleted opera The Tales of Hoffmann. He was a powerful influence on later composers of the operetta genre, particularly Johann Strauss, Jr....

, Emmerich Kalman
Emmerich Kalman
Emmerich Kálmán was a Hungarian-born composer of operettas.- Biography :Kálmán was born Imre Koppstein in Siófok, on the southern shore of Lake Balaton, Hungary in a Jewish family.Kálmán initially intended to become a concert pianist, but because of early-onset arthritis, he focused on composition...

, Sigmund Romberg
Sigmund Romberg
Sigmund Romberg was a Hungarian-born American composer, best known for his operettas.-Biography:Romberg was born as Siegmund Rosenberg to a Jewish family in Gross-Kanizsa during the Austro-Hungarian kaiserlich und königlich monarchy period...

, Oscar Straus
Oscar Straus (composer)
Oscar Nathan Straus was a Viennese composer of operettas and film scores and songs. He also wrote about 500 cabaret songs, chamber music, and orchestral and choral works...

 and Rudolf Friml
Rudolf Friml
Rudolf Friml was a composer of operettas, musicals, songs and piano pieces, as well as a pianist. After musical training and a brief performing career in his native Prague, Friml moved to the United States, where he became a composer...

; the latter four eventually moved to the United States and produced their works on the New York stage. One of the librettists
Libretto
A libretto is the text used in an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata, or musical. The term "libretto" is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as mass, requiem, and sacred cantata, or even the story line of a...

 for Bizet
Georges Bizet
Georges Bizet formally Alexandre César Léopold Bizet, was a French composer, mainly of operas. In a career cut short by his early death, he achieved few successes before his final work, Carmen, became one of the most popular and frequently performed works in the entire opera repertory.During a...

's Carmen
Carmen
Carmen is a French opéra comique by Georges Bizet. The libretto is by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on the novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée, first published in 1845, itself possibly influenced by the narrative poem The Gypsies by Alexander Pushkin...

(not an operetta proper but rather a work of the earlier opera comique
Opera Comique
The Opera Comique was a 19th-century theatre constructed in Westminster, London, between Wych Street and Holywell Street with entrances on the East Strand. It opened in 1870 and was demolished in 1902, to make way for the construction of the Aldwych and Kingsway...

 form) was the Jewish Ludovic Halévy
Ludovic Halévy
Ludovic Halévy was a French author and playwright. He was half Jewish : his Jewish father had converted to Christianity prior to his birth, to marry his mother, née Alexandrine Lebas.-Biography:Ludovic Halévy was born in Paris...

, niece of composer Fromental Halévy
Fromental Halévy
Jacques-François-Fromental-Élie Halévy, usually known as Fromental Halévy , was a French composer. He is known today largely for his opera La Juive.-Early career:...

 (Bizet himself was not Jewish but he married the elder Halevy's daughter, many have suspected that he was the descendant of Jewish converts to Christianity, and others have noticed Jewish-sounding intervals in his music). The Viennese librettist Victor Leon summarized the connection of Jewish composers and writers with the form of operetta: "The audience for operetta wants to laugh beneath tears—and that is exactly what Jews have been doing for the last two thousand years since the destruction of Jerusalem". Another factor in the evolution of musical theatre was vaudeville
Vaudeville
Vaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill...

, and during the early 20th century the form was explored and expanded by Jewish comedians and actors such as Jack Benny
Jack Benny
Jack Benny was an American comedian, vaudevillian, and actor for radio, television, and film...

, Fanny Brice
Fanny Brice
Fanny Brice was a popular and influential American illustrated song "model," comedienne, singer, theatre and film actress, who made many stage, radio and film appearances and is known as the creator and star of the top-rated radio comedy series, The Baby Snooks Show...

, Eddie Cantor
Eddie Cantor
Eddie Cantor was an American "illustrated song" performer, comedian, dancer, singer, actor and songwriter...

, The Marx Brothers, Anna Held
Anna Held
Helene Anna Held was a Polish-born stage performer, most often associated with impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, her common-law husband. -Early life:...

, Al Jolson
Al Jolson
Al Jolson was an American singer, comedian and actor. In his heyday, he was dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer"....

, Molly Picon
Molly Picon
Molly Picon was an American actress of stage, screen and television, as well as a lyricist and dramatic storyteller....

, Sophie Tucker
Sophie Tucker
Sophie Tucker was a Russian/Ukrainian-born American singer and actress. Known for her stentorian delivery of comical and risqué songs, she was one of the most popular entertainers in America during the first half of the 20th century...

 and Ed Wynn
Ed Wynn
Ed Wynn was a popular American comedian and actor noted for his Perfect Fool comedy character, his pioneering radio show of the 1930s, and his later career as a dramatic actor....

. During the period when Broadway was monopolized by revues and similar entertainments, Jewish producer Florenz Ziegfeld
Florenz Ziegfeld
Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. , , was an American Broadway impresario, notable for his series of theatrical revues, the Ziegfeld Follies , inspired by the Folies Bergère of Paris. He also produced the musical Show Boat...

 dominated the theatrical scene with his Follies
Ziegfeld Follies
The Ziegfeld Follies were a series of elaborate theatrical productions on Broadway in New York City from 1907 through 1931. They became a radio program in 1932 and 1936 as The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air....

.

By 1910 Jews (the vast majority of them immigrants from Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

) already composed a quarter of the population of New York City, and almost immediately Jewish artists and intellectuals began to show their influence on the cultural life of that city, and through time, the country as a whole. Likewise, while the modern musical can best be described as a fusion of operetta, earlier American entertainment and African-American culture and music, as well as Jewish culture and music, the actual authors of the first "book musicals" were the Jewish Jerome Kern
Jerome Kern
Jerome David Kern was an American composer of musical theatre and popular music. One of the most important American theatre composers of the early 20th century, he wrote more than 700 songs, used in over 100 stage works, including such classics as "Ol' Man River", "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man", "A...

, Oscar Hammerstein II
Oscar Hammerstein II
Oscar Greeley Clendenning Hammerstein II was an American librettist, theatrical producer, and theatre director of musicals for almost forty years. Hammerstein won eight Tony Awards and was twice awarded an Academy Award for "Best Original Song". Many of his songs are standard repertoire for...

, George
George Gershwin
George Gershwin was an American composer and pianist. Gershwin's compositions spanned both popular and classical genres, and his most popular melodies are widely known...

 and Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin was an American lyricist who collaborated with his younger brother, composer George Gershwin, to create some of the most memorable songs of the 20th century....

, George S. Kaufman
George S. Kaufman
George Simon Kaufman was an American playwright, theatre director and producer, humorist, and drama critic. In addition to comedies and political satire, he wrote several musicals, notably for the Marx Brothers...

 and Morrie Ryskind
Morrie Ryskind
Morrie Ryskind was an American dramatist, lyricist and writer of theatrical productions and motion pictures, who became a conservative political activist later in life.-Biography:...

. From that time until the 1980s a vast majority of successful musical theatre composers, lyricists, and book-writers were Jewish (a notable exception is the Protestant Cole Porter
Cole Porter
Cole Albert Porter was an American composer and songwriter. Born to a wealthy family in Indiana, he defied the wishes of his domineering grandfather and took up music as a profession. Classically trained, he was drawn towards musical theatre...

, who acknowledged that the reason he was so successful on Broadway was that he wrote what he called "Jewish music"). Rodgers and Hammerstein
Rodgers and Hammerstein
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were a well-known American songwriting duo, usually referred to as Rodgers and Hammerstein. They created a string of popular Broadway musicals in the 1940s and 1950s during what is considered the golden age of the medium...

, Frank Loesser
Frank Loesser
Frank Henry Loesser was an American songwriter who wrote the lyrics and scores to the Broadway hits Guys and Dolls and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, among others. He won separate Tony Awards for the music and lyrics in both shows, as well as sharing the Pulitzer Prize for...

, Lerner and Loewe
Lerner and Loewe
Lerner and Loewe are the duo of lyricist and librettist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe, known primarily for the music and lyrics of some of Broadway's most successful musical shows, including My Fair Lady, Camelot, and Brigadoon....

, Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Joshua Sondheim is an American composer and lyricist for stage and film. He is the winner of an Academy Award, multiple Tony Awards including the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, multiple Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the Laurence Olivier Award...

, Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990) was an American conductor, composer, author, music lecturer and pianist. He was among the first conductors born and educated in the United States of America to receive worldwide acclaim...

, Stephen Schwartz
Stephen Schwartz (composer)
Stephen Lawrence Schwartz is an American musical theatre lyricist and composer. In a career spanning over four decades, Schwartz has written such hit musicals as Godspell , Pippin and Wicked...

, Kander and Ebb
Kander and Ebb
Kander and Ebb were a highly successful songwriting team consisting of composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb . Known primarily for their stage musicals, Kander and Ebb also scored several movies including their most famous song, the theme song from Martin Scorsese's New York, New York...

 and dozens of others during the "Golden Age" of musical theatre were Jewish. Since the Tony Award for Best Original Score
Tony Award for Best Original Score
The Tony Award for Best Original Score is the Tony Award given to the composers and lyricists of the best original score written for a musical in that year. The score consists of music and lyrics...

 was instituted in 1947, approximately 70% of nominated scores and 60% of winning scores were by Jewish composers. Of successful British and French musical writers both in the West End
West End theatre
West End theatre is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London's 'Theatreland', the West End. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English speaking...

 and Broadway, Claude-Michel Schönberg
Claude-Michel Schönberg
Claude-Michel Schönberg is a French record producer, actor, singer, songwriter, and musical theatre composer, best known for his collaborations with the lyricist Alain Boublil.These include the musicals:...

 and Lionel Bart
Lionel Bart
Lionel Bart was a writer and composer of British pop music and musicals, best known for creating the book, music and lyrics for Oliver!-Early life:...

 are Jewish, among others.

One explanation of the affinity of Jewish composers and playwrights to the musical is that "traditional Jewish religious music
Jewish music
Jewish music is the music and melodies of the Jewish People which have evolved over time throughout the long course of Jewish History. In some instances Jewish Music is of a religious nature, spiritual songs and refrains are common in Jewish Services throughout the world, while other times, it is...

 was most often led by a single singer, a cantor
Hazzan
A hazzan or chazzan is a Jewish cantor, a musician trained in the vocal arts who helps lead the congregation in songful prayer.There are many rules relating to how a cantor should lead services, but the idea of a cantor as a paid professional does not exist in classical rabbinic sources...

 while Christians
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 emphasize choral singing."
Many of these writers used the musical to explore issues relating to assimilation
Cultural assimilation
Cultural assimilation is a socio-political response to demographic multi-ethnicity that supports or promotes the assimilation of ethnic minorities into the dominant culture. The term assimilation is often used with regard to immigrants and various ethnic groups who have settled in a new land. New...

, the acceptance of the outsider in society, the racial situation in the United States, the overcoming of obstacles through perseverance, and other topics pertinent to Jewish Americans and Western Jews in general, often using subtle and disguised stories to get this point across. For example, Kern, Rodgers, Hammerstein, the Gershwins, Harold Arlen
Harold Arlen
Harold Arlen was an American composer of popular music, having written over 500 songs, a number of which have become known the world over. In addition to composing the songs for The Wizard of Oz, including the classic 1938 song, "Over the Rainbow,” Arlen is a highly regarded contributor to the...

 and Yip Harburg
Yip Harburg
Edgar Yipsel Harburg , known as E.Y. Harburg or Yip Harburg, was an American popular song lyricist who worked with many well-known composers...

 wrote musicals and operas aiming to normalize societal toleration of minorities and urging racial harmony; these works included Show Boat
Show Boat
Show Boat is a musical in two acts with music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. It was originally produced in New York in 1927 and in London in 1928, and was based on the 1926 novel of the same name by Edna Ferber. The plot chronicles the lives of those living and working...

, Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess is an opera, first performed in 1935, with music by George Gershwin, libretto by DuBose Heyward, and lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward. It was based on DuBose Heyward's novel Porgy and subsequent play of the same title, which he co-wrote with his wife Dorothy Heyward...

, Finian's Rainbow
Finian's Rainbow
Finian's Rainbow is a musical with a book by E.Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy, lyrics by Harburg, and music by Burton Lane. The 1947 Broadway production ran for 725 performances. Several revivals and a 1968 film version followed. A Broadway revival ran from October 8, 2009 until January 17, 2010...

, South Pacific
South Pacific (musical)
South Pacific is a musical with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and book by Hammerstein and Joshua Logan. The story draws from James A. Michener's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 book Tales of the South Pacific, weaving together characters and elements from several of its...

and The King and I
The King and I
The King and I is a stage musical, the fifth by the team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. The work is based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon and derives from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, who became governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in...

. Towards the end of Golden Age, writers also began to openly and overtly tackle Jewish subjects and issues, such as Fiddler on the Roof
Fiddler on the Roof
Fiddler on the Roof is a musical with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and book by Joseph Stein, set in Tsarist Russia in 1905. It is based on Tevye and his Daughters by Sholem Aleichem...

and Rags
Rags (musical)
Rags is a musical with a book by Joseph Stein, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, and music by Charles Strouse.-Production history:The Broadway production opened on August 21, 1986 at the Mark Hellinger Theatre with little advance sale and to mostly indifferent reviews, and it closed after only four...

; Bart's Blitz!
Blitz!
Blitz! is a musical by Lionel Bart. The play, described by Steven Suskin as "massive", was set in the East End of London during the Blitz...

also tackles relations between Jews and Gentiles. Jason Robert Brown
Jason Robert Brown
Jason Robert Brown is an American musical theater composer, lyricist, and playwright. Brown's music sensibility fuses pop-rock stylings with theatrical lyrics...

 and Alfred Uhry
Alfred Uhry
Alfred Fox Uhry is an American playwright, screenwriter, and member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. He is one of very few writers to receive an Academy Award, Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize for dramatic writing....

's Parade
Parade (musical)
Parade is a musical with a book by Alfred Uhry and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. The musical was first produced on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theater on December 17, 1998. The production was directed by Harold Prince and closed 28 February 1999 after only 39 previews and 84 regular...

is a sensitive exploration of both anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

 and historical American racism
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

. The original concept that became West Side Story was set in the Lower East Side
Lower East Side
The Lower East Side, LES, is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is roughly bounded by Allen Street, East Houston Street, Essex Street, Canal Street, Eldridge Street, East Broadway, and Grand Street....

 during Easter-Passover celebrations; the rival gangs were to be Jewish and Italian Catholic.

The ranks of prominent Jewish producers, directors, designers and performers include Boris Aronson
Boris Aronson
Boris Aronson was an American scenic designer for Broadway and Yiddish theatre. He won the Tony Award for Scenic Design six times in his career.-Biography:...

, David Belasco
David Belasco
David Belasco was an American theatrical producer, impresario, director and playwright.-Biography:Born in San Francisco, California, where his Sephardic Jewish parents had moved from London, England, during the Gold Rush, he began working in a San Francisco theatre doing a variety of routine jobs,...

, Joel Grey
Joel Grey
Joel Grey is an American stage and screen actor, singer, and dancer, best known for his role as the Master of Ceremonies in both the stage and film adaptation of the Kander & Ebb musical Cabaret. He has won the Academy Award, Tony Award and Golden Globe Award...

, the Minskoff family, Zero Mostel
Zero Mostel
Samuel Joel “Zero” Mostel was an American actor of stage and screen, best known for his portrayal of comic characters such as Tevye on stage in Fiddler on the Roof, Pseudolus on stage and on screen in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Max Bialystock in the original film version...

, Joseph Papp
Joseph Papp
Joseph Papp was an American theatrical producer and director. Papp established The Public Theater in what had been the Astor Library Building in downtown New York . "The Public," as it is known, has many small theatres within it...

, Mandy Patinkin
Mandy Patinkin
Mandel Bruce "Mandy" Patinkin is an award-winning American actor of stage and screen and a tenor vocalist. He is a noted interpreter of the musical works of Stephen Sondheim, and is best-known for his work in musical theatre, originating iconic roles such as Georges Seurat in Sunday in the Park...

, the Nederlander family, Harold Prince, Max Reinhardt
Max Reinhardt (theatre director)
----Max Reinhardt was an Austrian theater and film director and actor.-Biography:...

, Jerome Robbins
Jerome Robbins
Jerome Robbins was an American theater producer, director, and choreographer known primarily for Broadway Theater and Ballet/Dance, but who also occasionally directed films and directed/produced for television. His work has included everything from classical ballet to contemporary musical theater...

, the Shubert family
Shubert family
The Shubert family of New York City, New York was responsible for the establishment of the Broadway district, in New York City, as the hub of the theatre industry in the United States...

 and Julie Taymor
Julie Taymor
Julie Taymor is an American director of theater, opera and film. Taymor's work has received many accolades from critics, and she has earned two Tony Awards out of four nominations, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design, an Emmy Award and an Academy Award nomination for Original Song...

. Jewish playwrights have also contributed to non-musical drama and theatre, both Broadway and regional. Edna Ferber
Edna Ferber
Edna Ferber was an American novelist, short story writer and playwright. Her novels were especially popular and included the Pulitzer Prize-winning So Big , Show Boat , and Giant .-Early years:Ferber was born August 15, 1885, in Kalamazoo, Michigan,...

, Moss Hart
Moss Hart
Moss Hart was an American playwright and theatre director, best known for his interpretations of musical theater on Broadway.-Early years:...

, Lillian Hellman
Lillian Hellman
Lillian Florence "Lily" Hellman was an American playwright, linked throughout her life with many left-wing causes...

, Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller
Arthur Asher Miller was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American theatre, writing dramas that include plays such as All My Sons , Death of a Salesman , The Crucible , and A View from the Bridge .Miller was often in the public eye,...

 and Neil Simon
Neil Simon
Neil Simon is an American playwright and screenwriter. He has written numerous Broadway plays, including Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues, and The Odd Couple. He won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play Lost In Yonkers. He has written the screenplays for several of his plays that...

 are only some of the prominent Jewish playwrights in American theatrical history. Approximately 21% of the plays and musicals that have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Pulitzer Prize for Drama
The Pulitzer Prize for Drama was first awarded in 1918.From 1918 to 2006, the Drama Prize was unlike the majority of the other Pulitzer Prizes: during these years, the eligibility period for the drama prize ran from March 2 to March 1, to reflect the Broadway 'season' rather than the calendar year...

 were written and composed by Jewish Americans.

The Association for Jewish Theater is a contemporary organization that includes both American and international theaters that focus on theater with Jewish content. It has also expanded to include Jewish playwrights.

Hebrew and Israeli theatre

The earliest known Hebrew language
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 drama was written around 1550 by a Jewish-Italian
History of the Jews in Italy
The history of the Jews in Italy goes back over two thousand years. Jews have been present in Italy from the Roman period until the present.-Antiquity:-Pre-Christian Rome:...

 writer from Mantua
Mantua
Mantua is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy and capital of the province of the same name. Mantua's historic power and influence under the Gonzaga family, made it one of the main artistic, cultural and notably musical hubs of Northern Italy and the country as a whole...

. A few works were written by rabbis and Kabbalists
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

 in the 17th century Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

, where Jews were relatively free from persecution and had both flourishing religious and secular Jewish cultures. All of these early Hebrew plays were about Biblical or mystical subjects, often in the form of Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

ic parable
Parable
A parable is a succinct story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more instructive principles, or lessons, or a normative principle. It differs from a fable in that fables use animals, plants, inanimate objects, and forces of nature as characters, while parables generally feature human...

s. During the post-Emancipation period in the 19th century Europe, many Jews translated great European plays such as those by Shakespeare, Molière
Molière
Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature...

 and Schiller, giving the characters Jewish names and transplanting the plot and setting to within a Jewish context.

Modern Hebrew theatre and drama, however, began with the development of Modern Hebrew in Europe (the first Hebrew theatrical professional performance was in Moscow in 1918) and was "closely linked with the Jewish national renaissance movement of the twentieth century. The historical awareness and the sense of primacy which accompanied the Hebrew theatre in its early years dictated the course of its artistic and aesthetic development". These traditions were soon transplanted to Israel. Playwrights such as Natan Alterman, Hayyim Nahman Bialik
Hayyim Nahman Bialik
Hayim Nahman Bialik , also Chaim or Haim, was a Jewish poet who wrote in Hebrew. Bialik was one of the pioneers of modern Hebrew poets and came to be recognized as Israel's national poet.-Biography:...

, Leah Goldberg
Leah Goldberg
Leah Goldberg was a prolific Hebrew poet, author, playwright, literary translator, and comparative literary researcher. Her writings are considered classics of Israeli literature and remain very popular among Hebrew speaking Israelis.-Biography:...

, Ephraim Kishon
Ephraim Kishon
' was an Israeli author, dramatist, screenwriter, and film director. He is one of the most widely-read contemporary satirists in the world.- Early life and World War II :...

, Hanoch Levin
Hanoch Levin
Hanoch Levin , was a prominent Israeli dramatist. He was also a theater director, an author and a poet, but he is best known for his plays.- Early life :...

, Aharon Megged
Aharon Megged
Aharon Megged is an Israeli author and playwright.-Biography:Aharon Megged was born in 1920 in Włocławek, Poland, and in 1926 immigrated with his parents to Mandate Palestine. He grew up in Ra'anana, attending the Herzliya high school in Tel Aviv...

, Moshe Shamir
Moshe Shamir
Moshe Shamir was an Israeli author, playwright, opinion writer, and public figure.-Biography:...

, Avraham Shlonsky
Avraham Shlonsky
Avraham Shlonsky was a significant and dynamic Israeli poet and editor born in Russian Empire.He was influential in the development of modern Hebrew and its literature in Israel through his many acclaimed translations of literary classics, particularly from Russian, as well as his own original...

, Yehoshua Sobol
Yehoshua Sobol
Joshua Sobol, also known as Yehoshua Sobol , is an Israeli playwright, writer, and director at theatres in Israel and abroad.He is married to Edna, set and costume designer...

 and A. B. Yehoshua
A. B. Yehoshua
Abraham B. Yehoshua is an Israeli novelist, essayist, and playwright. His pen name is A. B. Yehoshua.-Biography:...

 have written Hebrew-language plays. Themes that are obviously common in these works are the Holocaust
Shoah
Shoah may refer to:*The Holocaust*Shoah , documentary directed by Claude Lanzmann * A Shoah Foundation...

, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the meaning of Jewishness, and contemporary secular-religious tensions within Jewish Israel. The most well-known Hebrew theatre company and Israel's national theatre is the Habima
Habima Theater
The Habima Theatre , is the national theatre of Israel and one of the first Hebrew language theatres. It is located in Habima Square in the center of Tel Aviv.-History:...

 (meaning "the stage" in Hebrew), which was formed in 1913 in Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, and re-established in 1917 in Russia; another prominent Israeli theatre company is the Cameri Theatre
Cameri Theater
The Cameri Theater , established in 1944 in Tel Aviv, is one of the leading theaters in Israel, and is housed at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center....

, which is "Israel's first and leading repertory theatre".

Cinema

In the era when Yiddish theatre was still a major force in the world of theatre, over 100 films were made in Yiddish. Many are now lost. Prominent films included Shulamith
Shulamith
Shulamith may refer to:*Shulamith School for Girls*Shulamith, a play by Abraham Goldfaden*Shulamith , the cat that founded the American Curl breed-Also:...

(1931), the first Yiddish musical on film His Wife's Lover
His Wife's Lover
His Wife's Lover was billed as the "first Jewish musical comedy talking picture". A play before it as a film, it was based on Ferenc Molnár's The Guardsman...

(1931), A Daughter of Her People (1932), the anti-Nazi film The Wandering Jew
Wandering Jew
The Wandering Jew is a figure from medieval Christian folklore whose legend began to spread in Europe in the 13th century. The original legend concerns a Jew who taunted Jesus on the way to the Crucifixion and was then cursed to walk the earth until the Second Coming...

(1933), The Yiddish King Lear (1934), Shir Hashirim (1935), the biggest Yiddish film hit of all time Yidl Mitn Fidl
Yidl Mitn Fidl
-History:After the success of Joseph in the Land of Egypt, a silent film dubbed into the Yiddish language by Joseph Green, met with success, he decided to create an entirely Yiddish film, and returned to his native Poland to do so...

(1936), Where Is My Child? (1937), Green Fields
Green Fields
-Chart positions:...

(1937), Dybuk
The Dybbuk (play)
The Dybbuk, or Between Two Worlds is a 1914 play by S. Ansky, relating the story of a young bride possessed by a dybbuk —a malicious possessing spirit, believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person— on the eve of her wedding...

(1937), The Singing Blacksmith (1938), Tevye
Tevye (film)
Tevye is an American film adaptation of Sholem Aleichem's story of the same name, also known as Tevya, Tevye der Milchiker, or Tevye the Milkman.-Production background:...

(1939), Mirele Efros
Mirele Efros
Mirele Efros was an 1898 Yiddish play by Jacob Gordin. The title character is a powerful matriarch who becomes bitterly estranged from her own family...

(1939), Lang ist der Weg (1948), and God, Man and Devil (1950).

The roster of Jewish entrepreneurs in the English-language American film industry is legendary: Samuel Goldwyn
Samuel Goldwyn
Samuel Goldwyn was an American film producer, and founding contributor executive of several motion picture studios.-Biography:...

, Louis B. Mayer
Louis B. Mayer
Louis Burt Mayer born Lazar Meir was an American film producer. He is generally cited as the creator of the "star system" within Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in its golden years. Known always as Louis B...

, the Warner Brothers, David O. Selznick
David O. Selznick
David O. Selznick was an American film producer. He is best known for having produced Gone with the Wind and Rebecca , both of which earned him an Oscar for Best Picture.-Early years:...

, Marcus Loew
Marcus Loew
Marcus Loew was an American business magnate and a pioneer of the motion picture industry who formed Loews Theatres and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer .-Biography:...

, and Adolph Zukor
Adolph Zukor
Adolph Zukor , born Adolph Cukor, was a film mogul and founder of Paramount Pictures.-Early life:...

, to name just a few, and continuing into recent times with such industry giants as super-agent Michael Ovitz
Michael Ovitz
Michael S. Ovitz is an American talent agent who co-founded Creative Artists Agency in 1975 and served as its chairman until 1995. Ovitz later served as President of the Walt Disney Company from October 1995 to January 1997....

, Michael Eisner
Michael Eisner
Michael Dammann Eisner is an American businessman. He was the chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company from 1984 until 2005.-Early life:...

, Lew Wasserman
Lew Wasserman
Lewis Robert "Lew" Wasserman was an American talent agent and studio executive, sometimes credited with creating and later taking apart the studio system in a career spanning more than six decades...

, Jeffrey Katzenberg
Jeffrey Katzenberg
Jeffrey Katzenberg is an American film producer and CEO of DreamWorks Animation. He is perhaps most famous for his period as chairman of The Walt Disney Company's film division, and for producing DreamWorks animated films such as Shrek, Antz, The Prince of Egypt, The Road to El Dorado, Chicken...

, Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg
Steven Allan Spielberg KBE is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur. In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as an...

, and David Geffen
David Geffen
David Geffen is an American record executive, film producer, theatrical producer and philanthropist. Geffen is noted for creating Asylum Records in 1970, Geffen Records in 1980, and DGC Records in 1990...

. However, few of these brought a specifically Jewish sensibility either to the art of film or, with the sometime exception of Spielberg, to their choice of subject matter. A much more specifically Jewish sensibility can be seen in the films of the Marx Brothers
Marx Brothers
The Marx Brothers were an American family comedy act, originally from New York City, that enjoyed success in Vaudeville, Broadway, and motion pictures from the early 1900s to around 1950...

, Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks is an American film director, screenwriter, composer, lyricist, comedian, actor and producer. He is best known as a creator of broad film farces and comic parodies. He began his career as a stand-up comic and as a writer for the early TV variety show Your Show of Shows...

, or Woody Allen
Woody Allen
Woody Allen is an American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, jazz musician, author, and playwright. Allen's films draw heavily on literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity, and the history of cinema...

; other examples of specifically Jewish films from the Hollywood film industry are the Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand
Barbra Joan Streisand is an American singer, actress, film producer and director. She has won two Academy Awards, eight Grammy Awards, four Emmy Awards, a Special Tony Award, an American Film Institute award, a Peabody Award, and is one of the few entertainers who have won an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy,...

 vehicle Yentl
Yentl (film)
Yentl is a 1983 romantic musical drama film from United Artists, and directed, co-written, co-produced, and starring Barbra Streisand based on the play of the same name by Leah Napolin and Isaac Bashevis Singer, itself based on Singer's short story, "Yentl the Yeshiva Boy".The dramatic story...

(1983), or John Frankenheimer
John Frankenheimer
John Michael Frankenheimer was an American film and television director known for social dramas and action/suspense films...

's The Fixer
The Fixer (film)
The Fixer is a 1968 British drama film based on the 1966 semi-biographical novel of the same name, written by Bernard Malamud.-Plot:Like the book, the film's main character Yakov Bok, a Jew living in the Russian Empire, who was unjustly imprisoned based on prejudice and the charge of having...

(1968).

Radio and television

The first radio chains, the Radio Corporation of America
RCA
RCA Corporation, founded as the Radio Corporation of America, was an American electronics company in existence from 1919 to 1986. The RCA trademark is currently owned by the French conglomerate Technicolor SA through RCA Trademark Management S.A., a company owned by Technicolor...

 and the Columbia Broadcasting System, were created by the Jewish-American
American Jews
American Jews, also known as Jewish Americans, are American citizens of the Jewish faith or Jewish ethnicity. The Jewish community in the United States is composed predominantly of Ashkenazi Jews who emigrated from Central and Eastern Europe, and their U.S.-born descendants...

 David Sarnoff
David Sarnoff
David Sarnoff was an American businessman and pioneer of American commercial radio and television. He founded the National Broadcasting Company and throughout most of his career he led the Radio Corporation of America in various capacities from shortly after its founding in 1919 until his...

 and William S. Paley
William S. Paley
William S. Paley was the chief executive who built Columbia Broadcasting System from a small radio network into one of the foremost radio and television network operations in the United States.-Early life:...

, respectively. These Jewish innovators were also among the first producers of televisions, both black-and-white and color
Color television
Color television is part of the history of television, the technology of television and practices associated with television's transmission of moving images in color video....

. Among the Jewish immigrant communities of America there was also a thriving Yiddish language
Yiddish language
Yiddish is a High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages...

 radio, with its "golden age" from the 1930s to the 1950s.

Although there is little specifically Jewish television in the United States (National Jewish Television
National Jewish Television
National Jewish Television is a Jewish television channel seen as a three hour block every Sunday on religious and Public-access television cable TV channels in the United States...

, largely religious, broadcasts only three hours a week), Jews have been involved in American television from its earliest days. From Sid Caesar
Sid Caesar
Isaac Sidney "Sid" Caesar is an Emmy award winning American comic actor and writer known as the leading man on the 1950s television series Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour, and to younger generations as Coach Calhoun in Grease and Grease 2.- Early life :Caesar was born in Yonkers, New York,...

 and Milton Berle
Milton Berle
Milton Berlinger , better known as Milton Berle, was an American comedian and actor. As the manic host of NBC's Texaco Star Theater , in 1948 he was the first major star of U.S. television and as such became known as Uncle Miltie and Mr...

 to Joan Rivers
Joan Rivers
Joan Rivers is an American comedian, television personality and actress. She is known for her brash manner; her loud, raspy voice with a heavy New York accent; and her numerous cosmetic surgeries...

, Gilda Radner
Gilda Radner
Gilda Susan Radner was an American comedian and actress, best known as one of the original cast members of the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, for which she won an Emmy Award in 1978.-Early life:...

, and Andy Kaufman
Andy Kaufman
Andrew Geoffrey "Andy" Kaufman was an American entertainer, actor and performance artist. While often referred to as a comedian, Kaufman did not consider himself one...

 to Billy Crystal
Billy Crystal
William Edward "Billy" Crystal is an American actor, writer, producer, comedian and film director. He gained prominence in the 1970s for playing Jodie Dallas on the ABC sitcom Soap and became a Hollywood film star during the late 1980s and 1990s, appearing in the critical and box office successes...

 to Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld
Jerome Allen "Jerry" Seinfeld is an American stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and television and film producer, known for playing a semi-fictional version of himself in the situation comedy Seinfeld , which he co-created and co-wrote with Larry David, and, in the show's final two seasons,...

, Jewish stand-up comedians have been icons of American television. Other Jews that held a prominent role in early radio and television were Eddie Cantor
Eddie Cantor
Eddie Cantor was an American "illustrated song" performer, comedian, dancer, singer, actor and songwriter...

, Al Jolson
Al Jolson
Al Jolson was an American singer, comedian and actor. In his heyday, he was dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer"....

, Jack Benny
Jack Benny
Jack Benny was an American comedian, vaudevillian, and actor for radio, television, and film...

, Walter Winchell
Walter Winchell
Walter Winchell was an American newspaper and radio gossip commentator.-Professional career:Born Walter Weinschel in New York City, he left school in the sixth grade and started performing in a vaudeville troupe known as Gus Edwards' "Newsboys Sextet."His career in journalism was begun by posting...

 and David Susskind
David Susskind
David Susskind was a producer of TV, movies, and stage plays and also a pioneer TV talk show host.-Personal:...

. In the analysis of Paul Johnson,
The Broadway musical, radio and TV were all examples of a fundamental principle in Jewish diaspora
Jewish diaspora
The Jewish diaspora is the English term used to describe the Galut גלות , or 'exile', of the Jews from the region of the Kingdom of Judah and Roman Iudaea and later emigration from wider Eretz Israel....

 history: Jews opening up a completely new field in business and culture, a tabula rasa
Tabula rasa
Tabula rasa is the epistemological theory that individuals are born without built-in mental content and that their knowledge comes from experience and perception. Generally proponents of the tabula rasa thesis favour the "nurture" side of the nature versus nurture debate, when it comes to aspects...

on which to set their mark, before other interests had a chance to take possession, erect guild
Guild
A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...

 or professional
Professional
A professional is a person who is paid to undertake a specialised set of tasks and to complete them for a fee. The traditional professions were doctors, lawyers, clergymen, and commissioned military officers. Today, the term is applied to estate agents, surveyors , environmental scientists,...

 fortifications and deny them entry.


One of the first televised situation comedies
Situation comedy
A situation comedy, often shortened to sitcom, is a genre of comedy that features characters sharing the same common environment, such as a home or workplace, accompanied with jokes as part of the dialogue...

, The Goldbergs
The Goldbergs
The Goldbergs is a comedy-drama broadcast from 1929 to 1946 on American radio, and from 1949 to 1956 on American television. It was adapted into a 1948 play, Me and Molly, and a 1973 Broadway musical, Molly.-Radio:...

was set in a specifically Jewish milieu in the Bronx
The Bronx
The Bronx is the northernmost of the five boroughs of New York City. It is also known as Bronx County, the last of the 62 counties of New York State to be incorporated...

. While the overt Jewish milieu of The Goldbergs was unusual for an American television series—one of the few other examples being Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge (TV series)
Brooklyn Bridge is an American television program which aired on CBS between 1991 and 1993. It is about a Jewish American family living in Brooklyn in the middle 1950s...

(1991–1993). Jews have also played an enormous role among the creators and writers of television comedies: Woody Allen
Woody Allen
Woody Allen is an American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, jazz musician, author, and playwright. Allen's films draw heavily on literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity, and the history of cinema...

, Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks is an American film director, screenwriter, composer, lyricist, comedian, actor and producer. He is best known as a creator of broad film farces and comic parodies. He began his career as a stand-up comic and as a writer for the early TV variety show Your Show of Shows...

, Selma Diamond
Selma Diamond
Selma Diamond was a Canadian-born American comic actress and radio and television writer, and is known for her high-range, raspy voice and her portrayal of Selma Hacker on the first two seasons of the NBC television comedy series Night Court.-Life and career:Diamond was born in Montreal, Quebec,...

, Larry Gelbart
Larry Gelbart
Larry Simon Gelbart was an American television writer, playwright, screenwriter and author.-Early life:...

, Carl Reiner
Carl Reiner
Carl Reiner is an American actor, film director, producer, writer and comedian. He has won nine Emmy Awards and one Grammy Award during this career...

, and Neil Simon
Neil Simon
Neil Simon is an American playwright and screenwriter. He has written numerous Broadway plays, including Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues, and The Odd Couple. He won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play Lost In Yonkers. He has written the screenplays for several of his plays that...

 all wrote for Sid Caesar; Reiner's son Rob Reiner
Rob Reiner
Robert "Rob" Reiner is an American actor, director, producer, writer, and political activist.As an actor, Reiner first came to national prominence as Archie and Edith Bunker's son-in-law, Michael "Meathead" Stivic, on All in the Family. That role earned him two Emmy Awards during the 1970s...

 worked with Norman Lear
Norman Lear
Norman Milton Lear is an American television writer and producer who produced such 1970s sitcoms as All in the Family, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Good Times and Maude...

 on All in the Family
All in the Family
All in the Family is an American sitcom that was originally broadcast on the CBS television network from January 12, 1971, to April 8, 1979. In September 1979, a new show, Archie Bunker's Place, picked up where All in the Family had ended...

(which often engaged anti-semitism
Anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

 and other issues of prejudice
Prejudice
Prejudice is making a judgment or assumption about someone or something before having enough knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy, or "judging a book by its cover"...

); Larry David
Larry David
Lawrence Gene "Larry" David is an American actor, writer, comedian and producer. He is best known as the co-creator , head writer, and executive producer of the television series Seinfeld from 1989 to 1996, and for creating the 1999 HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm, a partially improvised sitcom in...

 and Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld
Jerome Allen "Jerry" Seinfeld is an American stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and television and film producer, known for playing a semi-fictional version of himself in the situation comedy Seinfeld , which he co-created and co-wrote with Larry David, and, in the show's final two seasons,...

 created the hit sitcom Seinfeld
Seinfeld
Seinfeld is an American television sitcom that originally aired on NBC from July 5, 1989, to May 14, 1998, lasting nine seasons, and is now in syndication. It was created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, the latter starring as a fictionalized version of himself...

, Lorne Michaels
Lorne Michaels
Lorne Michaels, CM is a Canadian-American television producer, writer, and comedian best known for creating and producing Saturday Night Live and producing the various film and TV projects that spun off from it.-Early life:...

, Al Franken
Al Franken
Alan Stuart "Al" Franken is the junior United States Senator from Minnesota. He is a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, which affiliates with the national Democratic Party....

, Rosie Shuster
Rosie Shuster
Rosie Shuster is a Canadian-born comedy writer. She was writer for Saturday Night Live during the 1970s and 1980s and she was married to the show's creator, Lorne Michaels from 1971 to 1980...

, and Alan Zweibel
Alan Zweibel
Alan Zweibel is an American producer and writer who has worked on such productions as Saturday Night Live, PBS' Great Performances, and It's Garry Shandling's Show.-Early life:...

 of Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live is a live American late-night television sketch comedy and variety show developed by Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title of NBC's Saturday Night.The show's sketches often parody contemporary American culture...

breathed new life into the variety show
Variety show
A variety show, also known as variety arts or variety entertainment, is an entertainment made up of a variety of acts, especially musical performances and sketch comedy, and normally introduced by a compère or host. Other types of acts include magic, animal and circus acts, acrobatics, juggling...

 in the 1970s.

More recently, American Jews have been instrumental to "novelistic" television series such as The Wire
The WIRE
the WIRE is the student-run College radio station at the University of Oklahoma, broadcasting in a freeform format. The WIRE serves the University of Oklahoma and surrounding communities, and is staffed by student DJs. The WIRE broadcasts at 1710 kHz AM in Norman, Oklahoma...

and The Sopranos
The Sopranos
The Sopranos is an American television drama series created by David Chase that revolves around the New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano and the difficulties he faces as he tries to balance the often conflicting requirements of his home life and the criminal organization he heads...

. Variously acclaimed as one of the greatest television series of all time, The Wire was created by David Simon
David Simon
David Simon is an American author, journalist, and a writer/producer of television series. He worked for the Baltimore Sun City Desk for twelve years. He wrote Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets and co-wrote The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood with Ed Burns...

. Simon also served as executive producer, head writer, and show runner
Show runner
Showrunner is a term of art originating in the United States and Canadian television industry referring to the person who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of a television seriesalthough such persons generally are credited as an executive producer...

. Matthew Weiner
Matthew Weiner
Matthew Weiner is an American writer, director and producer of television drama. He is the creator, executive producer, head writer, and show runner of the AMC television series Mad Men. He is also noted for his work on the HBO series The Sopranos, on which he served as a writer and producer...

 produced the fifth and sixth seasons of The Sopranos and later created Mad Men
Mad Men
Mad Men is an American dramatic television series created and produced by Matthew Weiner. The series premiered on Sunday evenings on the American cable network AMC and are produced by Lionsgate Television. It premiered on July 19, 2007, and completed its fourth season on October 17, 2010. Each...

.

Music

Jewish musical contributions also tend to reflect the cultures of the countries in which Jews live, the most notable examples being classical and popular music
Popular music
Popular music belongs to any of a number of musical genres "having wide appeal" and is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. It stands in contrast to both art music and traditional music, which are typically disseminated academically or orally to smaller, local...

 in the United States and Europe. (See: Jews in Classical Music and Jews in Mainstream and Jazz). Some music, however, is unique to particular Jewish communities, such as Israeli music
Music of Israel
The music of Israel is a combination of Jewish and non-Jewish music traditions that have come together over the course of a century to create a distinctive musical culture. For more than 100 years, musicians have sought original stylistic elements that would define the emerging national spirit...

, Israeli Folk music, Klezmer
Klezmer
Klezmer is a musical tradition of the Ashkenazic Jews of Eastern Europe. Played by professional musicians called klezmorim, the genre originally consisted largely of dance tunes and instrumental display pieces for weddings and other celebrations...

, Sephardic and Ladino music
Sephardic music
There are three types of Sephardic songs—topical and entertainment songs, romance songs and spiritual or ceremonial songs. Lyrics can be in several languages, including Hebrew for religious songs, and Ladino....

, and Mizrahi music
Mizrahi music
Mizrahi music refers to the music integration that combines elements from Europe, the West, and Middle Eastern/North African countries transported to Israel by migrating Jews. It is usually sung in Hebrew, literary Hebrew and Arabic slang...

.

Dance

Deriving from Biblical traditions, Jewish dance has long been used by Jews as a medium for the expression of joy and other communal emotions. Each Jewish diasporic
Jewish diaspora
The Jewish diaspora is the English term used to describe the Galut גלות , or 'exile', of the Jews from the region of the Kingdom of Judah and Roman Iudaea and later emigration from wider Eretz Israel....

 community developed its own dance traditions for wedding celebrations and other distinguished events. For Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim , are the Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities along the Rhine in Germany from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north. Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for this region and thus for Germany...

 in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

, for example, dances, whose names corresponded to the different forms of klezmer
Klezmer
Klezmer is a musical tradition of the Ashkenazic Jews of Eastern Europe. Played by professional musicians called klezmorim, the genre originally consisted largely of dance tunes and instrumental display pieces for weddings and other celebrations...

 music that were played, were an obvious staple of the wedding ceremony of the shtetl
Shtetl
A shtetl was typically a small town with a large Jewish population in Central and Eastern Europe until The Holocaust. Shtetls were mainly found in the areas which constituted the 19th century Pale of Settlement in the Russian Empire, the Congress Kingdom of Poland, Galicia and Romania...

. Jewish dances both were influenced by surrounding Gentile
Gentile
The term Gentile refers to non-Israelite peoples or nations in English translations of the Bible....

 traditions and Jewish sources preserved over time. "Nevertheless the Jews practiced a corporeal expressive language that was highly differentiated from that of the non-Jewish peoples of their neighborhood, mainly through motions of the hands and arms, with more intricate legwork by the younger men." In general, however, in most religiously traditional communities, members of the opposite sex dancing together or dancing at times other than at these events was frowned upon.

Visual arts and architecture

See also List of Jews in the visual arts.


Compared to music or theater, there is less of a specifically Jewish tradition in the visual arts
Visual arts
The visual arts are art forms that create works which are primarily visual in nature, such as ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, crafts, and often modern visual arts and architecture...

. The most likely and accepted reason is that, as has been previously shown with Jewish music and literature, before Emancipation
Jewish Emancipation
Jewish emancipation was the external and internal process of freeing the Jewish people of Europe, including recognition of their rights as equal citizens, and the formal granting of citizenship as individuals; it occurred gradually between the late 18th century and the early 20th century...

 Jewish culture was dominated by religious tradition. As most Rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

nical authorities believed that the Second Commandment prohibited much visual art that would qualify as "graven images", Jewish artists were relatively rare until they lived in assimilated European communities beginning in the late 18th century. It should be noted however, that despite fears by early religious communities of art being used for idolatrous purposes, Jewish sacred art is recorded in the Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

 and extends throughout Jewish Antiquity
Ancient history
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC...

 and the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

. The Tabernacle
Tabernacle
The Tabernacle , according to the Hebrew Torah/Old Testament, was the portable dwelling place for the divine presence from the time of the Exodus from Egypt through the conquering of the land of Canaan. Built to specifications revealed by God to Moses at Mount Sinai, it accompanied the Israelites...

 and the two Temples in Jerusalem
Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

 form the first known examples of "Jewish art". During the first centuries of the Common Era
Common Era
Common Era ,abbreviated as CE, is an alternative designation for the calendar era originally introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century, traditionally identified with Anno Domini .Dates before the year 1 CE are indicated by the usage of BCE, short for Before the Common Era Common Era...

, Jewish religious art also was created in regions surrounding the Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 such as Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and Greece, including fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

es on the walls of synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

s, of which the Dura Europas Synagogue is the only survivor as well as the Jewish catacombs
Catacombs of Rome
The Catacombs of Rome are ancient catacombs, underground burial places under or near Rome, Italy, of which there are at least forty, some discovered only in recent decades. Though most famous for Christian burials, either in separate catacombs or mixed together, they began in the 2nd century, much...

 in Rome. A Jewish tradition of illuminated manuscript
Illuminated manuscript
An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations...

s in at least Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

 has left no survivors, but can be deduced from borrowings in Early Medieval Christian art. Middle Age
Jews in the Middle Ages
The history of Jews in the Middle Ages spans the timeframe of approximately 500 CE to 1750 CE. This article covers the medieval history of Jews in the Christian-dominated European region...

 Rabbinical and Kabbalistic
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

 literature also contain textual and graphic art, most famously illuminated haggadahs such as the Sarajevo Haggadah
Sarajevo Haggadah
The Sarajevo Haggadah is an illuminated manuscript that contains the illustrated traditional text of the Passover Haggadah which accompanies the Passover Seder. It is one of the oldest Sephardic Haggadahs in the world, originating in Barcelona around 1350. The Haggadah is presently owned by the...

, and other manuscripts like the Nuremberg Mahzor
Nuremberg Mahzor
The Nuremberg Mahzor is a 14th century manuscript of the sidur according to the 'Eastern' Ashkenazi rite. Written in 1331, the ornamental manuscript includes the Jewish services for all occasions throughout the year, together with commentaries which have never been published.The manuscript was...

. Some of these were illustrated by Jewish artists and some by Christians; equally some Jewish artists and craftsmen in various media worked on Christian commissions. Johnson again summarizes this sudden change from a limited participation by Jews in visual art (as in many other arts) to a large movement by them into this branch of European cultural life:
Again, the arrival of the Jewish artist was a strange phenomenon. It is true that, over the centuries, there had been many animals (though few humans) in Jewish art: lions on Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 curtains, owls on Judaic coins, animals on the Capernaum
Capernaum
Capernaum was a fishing village in the time of the Hasmoneans. Located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It had a population of about 1,500. Archaeological excavations have revealed two ancient synagogues built one over the other...

 capitals, birds on the rim of the fountain-basis in the 5th century Naro
Naro
Naro is a comune in the province of Agrigento, in the island of Sicily, Italy. It is bounded by the comuni of Agrigento, Caltanissetta, Camastra, Campobello di Licata, Canicattì, Castrofilippo, Delia, Favara, Licata, Palma di Montechiaro, Ravanusa and Sommatino.-History:Naro was founded in the...

 synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

 in Tunis
Tunis
Tunis is the capital of both the Tunisian Republic and the Tunis Governorate. It is Tunisia's largest city, with a population of 728,453 as of 2004; the greater metropolitan area holds some 2,412,500 inhabitants....

; there were carved animals, too, on timber synagogues in eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 - indeed the Jewish wood-carver was the prototype of the modern Jewish plastic artist. A book of Yiddish folk-ornament
Ornament (architecture)
In architecture and decorative art, ornament is a decoration used to embellish parts of a building or object. Large figurative elements such as monumental sculpture and their equivalents in decorative art are excluded from the term; most ornament does not include human figures, and if present they...

, printed at Vitebsk
Vitebsk
Vitebsk, also known as Viciebsk or Vitsyebsk , is a city in Belarus, near the border with Russia. The capital of the Vitebsk Oblast, in 2004 it had 342,381 inhabitants, making it the country's fourth largest city...

 in 1920, was similar to Chagall's own bestiary
Bestiary
A bestiary, or Bestiarum vocabulum is a compendium of beasts. Bestiaries were made popular in the Middle Ages in illustrated volumes that described various animals, birds and even rocks. The natural history and illustration of each beast was usually accompanied by a moral lesson...

. But the resistance of pious Jews to portraying the living image was still strong at the beginning of the twentieth century.

There were few Jewish secular artists in Europe prior to the Emancipation
Jewish Emancipation
Jewish emancipation was the external and internal process of freeing the Jewish people of Europe, including recognition of their rights as equal citizens, and the formal granting of citizenship as individuals; it occurred gradually between the late 18th century and the early 20th century...

 that spread throughout Europe with the Napoleonic conquests. There were exceptions, and Salomon Adler
Salomon Adler
Salomon Adler was a German painter of the Baroque period, active in Milan and Bergamo as a portrait painter. He was the mentor of Fra Galgario. Born in Danzig , died in Milan...

 was a prominent portrait painter in eighteenth century Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

. The delay in participation in the visual arts parallels the lack of Jewish participation in European classical music until the nineteenth century, and which was progressively overcome with the rise of Modernism in the 20th century. There were many Jewish artists in the 19th century, but Jewish artistic activity boomed during the end of World War I. The Jewish artistic Renaissance has its roots in the 1901 Fifth Zionist Congress, which included an art exhibition featuring Jewish artists E.M. Lilien and Hermann Struck. The exhibition helped legitimize art as an expression of Jewish culture. According to Nadine Nieszawer, "Until 1905, Jews were always plunged into their books but from the first Russian Revolution, they became emancipated, committed themselves in politics and became artists. A real Jewish cultural rebirth". Individual Jews figured in the modern artistic movements of Europe— With the exception of those living in isolated Jewish communities, most Jews listed here as contributing to secular Jewish culture also participated in the cultures of the peoples they lived with and nations they lived in. In most cases, however, the work and lives of these people did not exist in two distinct cultural spheres but rather in one that incorporated elements of both.

During the early 20th century Jews figured particularly prominently in the Montparnasse
Montparnasse
Montparnasse is an area of Paris, France, on the left bank of the river Seine, centred at the crossroads of the Boulevard du Montparnasse and the Rue de Rennes, between the Rue de Rennes and boulevard Raspail...

 movement, and after World War II among the abstract expressionists
Abstract expressionism
Abstract expressionism was an American post–World War II art movement. It was the first specifically American movement to achieve worldwide influence and put New York City at the center of the western art world, a role formerly filled by Paris...

: Helen Frankenthaler
Helen Frankenthaler
Helen Frankenthaler is an American abstract expressionist painter. She is a major contributor to the history of postwar American painting. Having exhibited her work in six decades she has spanned several generations of abstract painters while continuing to produce vital and ever-changing new work...

, Adolph Gottlieb
Adolph Gottlieb
Adolph Gottlieb was an American abstract expressionist painter, sculptor and graphic artist.-Biography:Gottlieb was born in New York to Jewish parents. From 1920-1921 he studied at the Art Students League of New York, after which he traveled in France and Germany for a year...

, Philip Guston
Philip Guston
Philip Guston was a notable painter and printmaker in the New York School, which included many of the Abstract expressionists, such as Jackson Pollock and Willem De Kooning...

, Al Held
Al Held
Al Held was an American Abstract expressionist painter. He was particularly well known for his large scale Hard-edge paintings.-Background and education:...

, Franz Kline
Franz Kline
Franz Jozef Kline was an American painter mainly associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement centered around New York in the 1940s and 1950s. He was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and attended Girard College, an academy in Philadelphia for fatherless boys...

, Lee Krasner
Lee Krasner
Lee Krasner was an influential abstract expressionist painter in the second half of the 20th century. On October 25, 1945, she married artist Jackson Pollock, who was also influential in the Abstract Expressionism movement....

, Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman was an American artist. He is seen as one of the major figures in abstract expressionism and one of the foremost of the color field painters.-Early life:...

, Milton Resnick
Milton Resnick
Milton Resnick was a major abstract expressionist painter and teacher known for his mystical, abstract and figurative paintings. Born in Bratslav, Russia, he emigrated to the United States in 1922.-Biography:...

, Jack Tworkov
Jack Tworkov
Jack Tworkov was a Polish born American abstract expressionist painter.He was born in Biała Podlaska, Russian Empire and immigrated to the United States in 1913 with his mother and younger sister who would later become known as Janice Biala...

, Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko, born Marcus Rothkowitz , was a Russian-born American painter. He is classified as an abstract expressionist, although he himself rejected this label, and even resisted classification as an "abstract painter".- Childhood :Mark Rothko was born in Dvinsk, Vitebsk Province, Russian...

, and Louis Schanker
Louis Schanker
Louis Schanker was an American abstract artist born in 1903. He grew up in an orthodox Jewish environment in the Bronx, New York. His parents were of Romanian descent...

 as well as the Postmodernists
Postmodern art
Postmodern art is a term used to describe an art movement which was thought to be in contradiction to some aspect of modernism, or to have emerged or developed in its aftermath...

. Many Russian Jews were prominent in the art of scenic design
Scenic design
Scenic design is the creation of theatrical, as well as film or television scenery. Scenic designers have traditionally come from a variety of artistic backgrounds, but nowadays, generally speaking, they are trained professionals, often with M.F.A...

, particularly the aforementioned Chagall and Aronson, as well as the revolutionary Léon Bakst
Léon Bakst
Léon Samoilovitch Bakst was a Russian painter and scene- and costume designer. He was a member of the Sergei Diaghilev circle and the Ballets Russes, for which he designed exotic, richly coloured sets and costumes...

, who like the other two also painted. One Mexican Jewish artist was Pedro Friedeberg
Pedro Friedeberg
Pedro Friedeberg is a Mexican painter.-External Links:*...

; it was once thought the Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo de Rivera was a Mexican painter, born in Coyoacán, and perhaps best known for her self-portraits....

's father was Jewish, but historians have determined that he was not. Gustav Klimt
Gustav Klimt
Gustav Klimt was an Austrian Symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. His major works include paintings, murals, sketches, and other art objects...

 was not Jewish, but nearly all of his patrons and several of his models were. Among major artists Chagall may be the most specifically Jewish in his themes. But as art fades into graphic design
Graphic design
Graphic design is a creative process – most often involving a client and a designer and usually completed in conjunction with producers of form – undertaken in order to convey a specific message to a targeted audience...

, Jewish names and themes become more prominent: Leonard Baskin
Leonard Baskin
Leonard Baskin was an American sculptor, book-illustrator, wood-engraver, printmaker, graphic artist, writer and teacher.-Life and work:...

, Al Hirschfeld
Al Hirschfeld
Albert "Al" Hirschfeld was an American caricaturist best known for his simple black and white portraits of celebrities and Broadway stars.-Personal life:Born in St...

, Ben Shahn
Ben Shahn
Ben Shahn was a Lithuanian-born American artist. He is best known for his works of social realism, his left-wing political views, and his series of lectures published as The Shape of Content.-Biography:...

, Art Spiegelman
Art Spiegelman
Art Spiegelman is an American comics artist, editor, and advocate for the medium of comics, best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning comic book memoir, Maus. His works are published with his name in lowercase: art spiegelman.-Biography:Spiegelman was born in Stockholm, Sweden, to Polish Jews...

 and Saul Steinberg
Saul Steinberg
Saul Steinberg was a Romanian-born American cartoonist and illustrator, best known for his work for The New Yorker.-Biography:...

. And in the Golden and Silver ages of American comic books, the Jewish role was overwhelming: Joe Shuster
Joe Shuster
Joseph "Joe" Shuster was a Canadian-born American comic book artist. He was best known for co-creating the DC Comics character Superman, with writer Jerry Siegel, first published in Action Comics #1...

 and Jerry Siegel
Jerry Siegel
Jerome "Jerry" Siegel , who also used pseudonyms including Joe Carter, Jerry Ess, and Herbert S...

, creators of Superman
Superman
Superman is a fictional comic book superhero appearing in publications by DC Comics, widely considered to be an American cultural icon. Created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born American artist Joe Shuster in 1932 while both were living in Cleveland, Ohio, and sold to Detective...

, were Jewish, as were Bob Kane
Bob Kane
Bob Kane was an American comic book artist and writer, credited as the creator of the DC Comics superhero Batman...

 ( Robert Cohen), Will Eisner
Will Eisner
William Erwin "Will" Eisner was an American comics writer, artist and entrepreneur. He is considered one of the most important contributors to the development of the medium and is known for the cartooning studio he founded; for his highly influential series The Spirit; for his use of comics as an...

, Martin Goodman
Martin Goodman (publisher)
Martin Goodman born on was an American publisher of pulp magazines, paperback books, men's adventure magazines, and comic books, launching the company that would become Marvel Comics....

, Joe Simon
Joe Simon
Joseph Henry "Joe" Simon is an American comic book writer, artist, editor, and publisher. Simon created or co-created many important characters in the 1930s-1940s Golden Age of Comic Books and served as the first editor of Timely Comics, the company that would evolve into Marvel Comics.With his...

, Jack Kirby
Jack Kirby
Jack Kirby , born Jacob Kurtzberg, was an American comic book artist, writer and editor regarded by historians and fans as one of the major innovators and most influential creators in the comic book medium....

, and Stan Lee
Stan Lee
Stan Lee is an American comic book writer, editor, actor, producer, publisher, television personality, and the former president and chairman of Marvel Comics....

 of Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics
Marvel Worldwide, Inc., commonly referred to as Marvel Comics and formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, is an American company that publishes comic books and related media...

; and William Gaines
William Gaines
William Maxwell Gaines , better known as Bill Gaines, was an American publisher and co-editor of EC Comics. Following a shift in EC's direction in 1950, Gaines presided over what became an artistically influential and historically important line of mature-audience comics...

 and Harvey Kurtzman
Harvey Kurtzman
Harvey Kurtzman was an American cartoonist and the editor of several comic books and magazines. Kurtzman often signed his name H. Kurtz, followed by a stick figure Harvey Kurtzman (October 3, 1924, Brooklyn, New York – February 21, 1993) was an American cartoonist and the editor of several comic...

, founders of Mad
Mad (magazine)
Mad is an American humor magazine founded by editor Harvey Kurtzman and publisher William Gaines in 1952. Launched as a comic book before it became a magazine, it was widely imitated and influential, impacting not only satirical media but the entire cultural landscape of the 20th century.The last...

, to name only a small sample. Many of those involved in the later ages of comics are also Jewish, such as Julius Schwartz
Julius Schwartz
Julius "Julie" Schwartz was a comic book and pulp magazine editor, and a science fiction agent and prominent fan. He was born in the Bronx, New York...

, Jenette Kahn
Jenette Kahn
Jenette Kahn is an American comic book editor and executive. She joined DC Comics in 1976 as publisher, and five years later was promoted to President. In 1989, she stepped down as publisher and assumed the title of Editor-in-Chief while retaining the office of president...

, Len Wein
Len Wein
Len Wein is an American comic book writer and editor best known for co-creating DC Comics' Swamp Thing and Marvel Comics' Wolverine, and for helping revive the Marvel superhero team the X-Men...

, Peter David
Peter David
Peter Allen David , often abbreviated PAD, is an American writer of comic books, novels, television, movies and video games...

, Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman
Neil Richard Gaiman born 10 November 1960)is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book...

, and Brian Michael Bendis
Brian Michael Bendis
Brian Michael Bendis is an American comic book writer and erstwhile artist. He has won critical acclaim for his self-published, Image Comics and Marvel Comics work, and is one of the most successful writers working in mainstream comics, with his books selling consistently highly for over a...

.

Jews have also played a very important role in photography; some notable figures are Andre Kertesz
André Kertész
André Kertész , born Kertész Andor, was a Hungarian-born photographer known for his groundbreaking contributions to photographic composition and the photo essay. In the early years of his career, his then-unorthodox camera angles and style prevented his work from gaining wider recognition...

, Robert Frank
Robert Frank
Robert Frank , born in Zürich, Switzerland, is an important figure in American photography and film. His most notable work, the 1958 photobook titled The Americans, was influential, and earned Frank comparisons to a modern-day de Tocqueville for his fresh and skeptical outsider's view of American...

, Garry Winogrand
Garry Winogrand
Garry Winogrand was a street photographer known for his portrayal of America in the mid-20th century. John Szarkowski called him the central photographer of his generation....

, Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman is an American photographer and film director, best known for her conceptual portraits. Sherman currently lives and works in New York City. In 1995, she was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. She is represented by Sprüth Magers Berlin London in and Metro Pictures gallery in...

, and Steve Lehman.

See also

  • Culture of Israel
    Culture of Israel
    The culture of Israel developed long before the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948 and combines the heritage of secular and religious lives. Much of the diversity in Israel's culture comes from the diversity of its population...

  • Humanistic Judaism
    Humanistic Judaism
    Humanistic Judaism is a movement in Judaism that offers a nontheistic alternative in contemporary Jewish life. It defines Judaism as the cultural and historical experience of the Jewish people and encourages humanistic and secular Jews to celebrate their Jewish identity by participating in Jewish...

  • Israeli hip hop
    Israeli hip hop
    -History:Although Native Hebrew hip hop gained popularity only during the 1990s, stemming from global influences, traces of it could been found during the mid 1980s. Yair Nitzani, then a member of the Israeli rock group, "Tislam", released an old school hip hop parody album under the name "Hashem...

  • Jewish studies
    Jewish studies
    Jewish studies is an academic discipline centered on the study of Jews and Judaism. Jewish studies is interdisciplinary and combines aspects of history , religious studies, archeology, sociology, languages , political science, area studies, women's studies, and ethnic studies...

  • The Holocaust in art and literature
    The Holocaust in art and literature
    There is a wide range of ways in which people have represented the Holocaust in popular culture.-Literature:Some of the more famous works are by Holocaust survivors or victims, such as Elie Wiesel, Primo Levi, Tadeusz Borowski, Jerzy Kosinski , Imre Kertész, Jean Améry, Edgar Hilsenrath, Anne...


Further reading

  • Landa, M.J. (1926). The Jew in Drama. New York: Ktav Publishing House (1969).
  • Veidlinger, Jeffrey. Jewish Public Culture in the Late Russian Empire. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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