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    Jewish news & Jewish Jews – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. What makes a Jewish writer?

    A. There are Jews who are writers and writers who are Jews, but that does not mean that either group produces Jewish writing.

    Jewish writing is ambiguous. If a Jew writes in a Jewish language the result is not necessarily Jewish; if they write in another language the writing can still be Jewish. A “Jewish” writer might be a gentile; it depends on the theme, not the origin of the writer. Writing can totally omit the word “Jew” and yet be Jewish (Kafka doesn’t use the word “Jew” outside his diaries, yet he is a Jewish writer).

    Jewish writing is not always pro-Jewish: some Jewish writers rebel against Judaism and Jewishness, and have no interest in Jewish achievement or destiny. Cynthia Ozick says that Jewish writing has a liturgical quality…but what does “liturgical” mean?

    SJ Goldsmith says about Josef Herman the artist, “Actually he is a Jewish Jew and a universal painter”. A Jewish writer, like a Jewish artist, is “a Jewish Jew”.

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