A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew and Yiddish
This chapter examines Naomi Seidman's A Marriage Made in Heaven, the first book-length study of the importance of issues of gender to modern Hebrew and Yiddish literature and to cultural processes. The perspective of the study is comparative. As such it provides new insights into interrelations of gender and Jewish literature and expands our understanding of Jewish cultural development in important ways. Ties between language and gender in Jewish languages have already been noted by Jewish critics such as Shmuel Niger and Max Weinreich. Seidman's study, however, is the first to show how these connections corresponded to and reinforced the culture's social division along sexual lines. It demonstrates how the sexual linguistic system worked in Hebrew and Yiddish literature in the late nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century, and emphasizes how specific intersections between linguistic and gender structures eventually connected language ideologies to ideals of modern nation-building in later decades of the twentieth century.
Keywords: Naomi Seidman, modern Yiddish literature, book review, gender, cultural processes, modern Hebrew literature, Jewish languages, sexual linguistic system, language ideologies, modern nation-building
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