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Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 16Focusing on Jewish Popular Culture and Its Afterlife$
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Michael C. Steinlauf and Antony Polonsky

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774730

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774730.001.0001

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Exploiting Tradition: Religious Iconography in Cartoons of the Polish Yiddish Press

Exploiting Tradition: Religious Iconography in Cartoons of the Polish Yiddish Press

(p.243) Exploiting Tradition: Religious Iconography in Cartoons of the Polish Yiddish Press
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 16

Edward Portnoy

Liverpool University Press

This chapter explores religious iconography in cartoons of the Polish Yiddish press. Alongside the mainstream press, a Jewish satirical press began to flourish in the Yiddish language in both eastern Europe and America. In addition to jokes, humorous stories, poems, and many parodies, Yiddish satirical journals would come to include numerous cartoons and caricatures. Never having been seen previously in Jewish life, such visual parody was an unprecedented innovation among Yiddish-speaking Jews in Poland, partly because of its sheer novelty and partly because art without a religious connection was discouraged among Jews. Moreover, the vast majority of Jewish texts, particularly those used on a daily basis, did not contain illustrations of any kind. The cartoonists of the Yiddish press were therefore engaged not only in a radical subversion of Jewish tradition but also in a reassessment of what Jewish caricature should be, as opposed to the antisemitic caricature of the non-Jewish satirical press. In addition, Jewish cartoonists frequently applied traditional Jewish themes to critical commentary on current cultural and political events.

Keywords:   religious iconography, Polish Yiddish press, Jewish satirical press, Yiddish satirical journals, Jewish life, Jewish tradition, Jewish caricatures, Jewish cartoonists, Jewish cartoons

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