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Jewhooing the Sixties
American Celebrity and Jewish Identity—Sandy Koufax, Lenny Bruce, Bob Dylan, and Barbra Streisand
David E. Kaufman

Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life

2012 • 360 pp. 24 illus. 6 x 9"
Popular Culture / Jewish Studies / 20th Century U.S. History

$40.00 Paperback, 978-1-61168-314-1
$85.00 Hardcover, 978-1-61168-313-4

$29.99 Ebook, 978-1-61168-315-8

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

(Hardcover is un-jacketed.
Cover illustration is for paperback edition only)

“Kaufman’s book is a packed study of Jewish identity, Jewish celebrity, celebrity in general, celebrity and homosexuality, Jews and homosexuality, and ‘the challenge of balancing... [continued in Reviews below]”—Jewish Review of Books

A lively look at four major Jewish celebrities of early 1960s America, who together made their mark on both American culture and Jewish identity

Sandy Koufax, Lenny Bruce, Bob Dylan, and Barbra Streisand first came to public attention in the early 1960s, a period Kaufman identifies as historically ripe for American Jews to reexamine their (Jewish) identities. All four achieved extraordinary success in their respective fields and became celebrities within an American context, while at the same time they were clearly identifiable as Jews—although they were perceived to be Jewish in very different ways.

Kaufman investigates these celebrities’ rise to fame, the specific brand of Jewishness each one represented, and how their fans and the public at large perceived their ethnic identity as Jews. Situating Koufax, Bruce, Dylan, and Streisand within the larger history of American Jewish celebrity, Kaufman argues that the four early 1960s figures represent a turning point between celebrity Jews of the past—such as Hank Greenberg, Groucho Marx, Irving Berlin, and Fanny Brice—and those of the present, such as Jon Stewart, Matisyahu, and Natalie Portman. Providing an entry into Jewish celebrity studies, this lively narrative explores the intersection between popular celebrity and Jewish identity and thereby examines the cultural construction of Jewishness in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Kaufman’s book is a packed study of Jewish identity, Jewish celebrity, celebrity in general, celebrity and homosexuality, Jews and homosexuality, and ‘the challenge of balancing universalist tendencies and particular concerns.’ It’s all told through and around profiles of four exemplary Jewish celebrities of the 1960s: Sandy Koufax, Lenny Bruce, Bob Dylan, and Barbra Streisand—and the fans who loved them. . . . Jewhooing succeeds as a study of Jewish identity and sheds new light on the lives of his four subjects by contextualizing them within the broader contours of American Jewish social history.”—Jewish Review of Books

“Kaufman casts a new light on the landscape of American popular culture and allows us to see how Jewish celebrities have changed the rules of the game.”—Jewish Journal

“Kaufman digs deep into media coverage of the time to explore just how the Jewish background of this mosaic quartet was treated, and he is on solid ground.”—The Jewish Daily Forward

“Fascinating delivery by Kaufman. . . . Koufax, whose meteoric luster proved both brief and enduring, comes across as aloof but mensch-like. Bruce appears as the manic comic genius, insistent on collapsing entertainment barriers but having to pay the price. Dylan, whose treatment is perhaps the least satisfying, exudes a quicksilver-like quality, somewhat untethered, and certainly little inclined to his Jewish ancestry. Streisand proves to be a star among stars, exuding artistic brilliance and a determined identification with her religious kin. . . . .Recommended.”—Choice

“When exploring the Jewhooing phenomenon, Kaufman notes there is more to the experience than ethnic pride. He discusses how Jewish identity changed throughout the 20th century, which left many Jews unsure exactly how to define their connection to Judaism -- particularly when this connection was more ethnic than religious. The question of what it means to be Jewish became a more existential one, with American Jews looking to celebrities to help them find an answer.”—
The Reporter (Vestal, NY)

"Kaufman’s examination of the cultural construction of Jewishness in the latter half of the twentieth century and intersection between popular celebrity and Jewish identity is well done. He deftly shows how Koufax, Bruce, Dylan, and Streisand both reflect and embody the tension between success in American assimilation and the maintenance of ethnic distinctiveness. . . . Jewhooing the Sixties is a welcome addition to the field and a useful resource in celebrity and Jewish studies.”H-Net

“Kaufman’s study is a valuable contribution to understanding the era of the Sixties and the development of ethnic identity in America.”Jewish Book World

“[F]un to read. . . . Kaufman takes the reader on an exciting journey. . . . [To] the 1960s, a decade that was a significant turning point in how American Jews see themselves as a part of American society, not just apart from it.”Western States Jewish History

“David Kaufman’s read on American Jewish culture in the early 1960s through celebrity is an original and innovative approach to classic issues in the study of identity. It is by turns, insightful, provocative, and entertaining.”—Riv-Ellen Prell, Professor of American Studies, University of Minnesota

“Kaufman makes a compelling case for taking a closer look at figures we think we know and how we think we know them. Jewhooing the Sixties reintroduces its readers to figures who are exemplary not only for their fame, but whose very public Jewishness helps explain where, when, how, and to whom Jewish identity matters.”—Ari Y. Kelman, Stanford University School of Education

DAVID E. KAUFMAN is an associate professor of religion and the Florence and Robert Kaufman Chair in Jewish Studies at Hofstra University.

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 13:02:11 -0500