Inventing the Jew follows the evolution of stereotypes of Jews from the level of traditional Romanian and other Central-East European cultures (their legends, fairy tales, ballads, carols, anecdotes, superstitions, and iconographic representations) to that of "high" cultures (including literature, essays, journalism, and sociopolitical writings), showing how motifs specific to "folkloric antisemitism" migrated to "intellectual antisemitism." This comparative perspective also highlights how the images of Jews have differed from that of other "strangers" such as Hungarians, Germans, Roma, Turks, Armenians, and Greeks. The gap between the conception of the "imaginary Jew" and the "real Jew" is a cultural distance that differs over time and place, here seen through the lens of cultural anthropology.
Stereotypes of the "generic Jew" were not exclusively negative, and are described in five chapters depicting physical, occupational, moral and intellectual, mythical and magical, and religious portraits of "the Jew."
Andrei Oisteanu is a researcher at the Institute for the History of Religions in Bucharest, and associate professor at the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Bucharest. He is the author of several books, including The Image of the Jew in Romanian Culture, Order and Chaos: Myth and Magic in Romanian Traditional Culture, and Religion, Politics, and Myth: Texts about Mircea Eliade and Ioan Petru Culianu.
Foreword by Moshe Idel ix Preface xi INTRODUCTION: THE IMAGINARY JEW 1 Ethnic Imagology 1 Romanian Tolerance: Between Myth and Reality 7 The Tabooed Jew 25 Notes 30 1. THE PHYSICAL PORTRAIT 38Hooked Nose and Thick Lips 38 Ritual Hair, Beard, and Sidelocks 44 Why Jews Are Freckled 57 The Ruddy Man as Evil Omen 59 Filthy, Stinking Jew 66 Beautiful, Elegant Jewess 85 Jewish Dress and the Stigma of Clothing 99 Notes 113 2. THE OCCUPATIONAL PORTRAIT 138 The Jew as Tradesman 138 The Jew as Craftsman 154 The Jew as Moneylender 162 The Jew As Musician 169 The Jew as Tavern-keeper 173 The Jew as Wagon-driver 191 The Jew as Farmer and as Shepherd 197 Notes 205 3. THE MORAL AND INTELLECTUAL PORTRAIT 228The Intelligent, Yet Cunning Jew 228 Dangerous Intelligence 233 The Cowardice of the Jew 235 The Good-Bad Jew 257 Ethnical and Ethical Characteristics 266 The Blind, Deaf, and Dumb Jew 276 Notes 290 4. THE MYTHICAL AND MAGICAL PORTRAIT 310 Brimstone and Fire 310 Demonization of the Jew 315 The Jew as Warlock and Rainmaker 324 The Legend of the Wandering Jew 330 Why Jews Do Not Eat Pork 342 The Jew as Good Omen 347 The "Jidovi" or Giants 356 Notes 360 5. THE RELIGIOUS PORTRAIT 378 Deicide 378 Hagiocide 385 Iconocide 393 Ritual Infanticide 400 Ritual Xenocide? 426 Notes 441