Eric Silverman’s long-awaited Cultural History of Jewish Dress was released last month in Bloomsbury’s prestigious fashion history series (formerly Berg). It brings up to date a subject which has long been in want of revision: Jewish clothing was last surveyed in 1967 – almost fifty years ago – by Alfred Rubens in A History of Jewish Costume. The scope of the book is broad, spanning three thousand years in regions and cultures as distant from one another as the Middle East, Russia, North Africa, Europe, and the USA.
Drawing on the Torah, Mishnah, and Talmud, on a selection of secondary sources and newspaper articles in English, Silverman, a US-American anthropologist, chose an analytical rather than empirical approach. Instead of categorizing garments, he chronicles controversies fought over the ages about what Jews should and should not wear.
© Michaela Conen
Year after year, Jews in Germany ask themselves the same question: where are they going to get their Hanukkah paraphernalia? Santa Clauses smile at us from every shop window, the shelves are overflowing with a huge variety of delicacies wrapped up in glitzy packaging, and of course there are Advent calendars everywhere. Even the parcels we receive long before the day itself are decorated for Christmas – but amidst this splendor, Hanukkah products are nowhere to be found. The ‘usual suspects,’ the stores with Jewish literature or kosher groceries, always have paper plates and decorations with the same designs as five years ago. I can almost hear the children say, “oh no, not the same stuff again!” So, what to do? Continue reading
The race for the next U.S. presidency is on, but this time, not so many Americans are heading for the exits. Four years ago, when presidential contender, 76-year-old Arizona Senator John McCain, named the intellectually feather-weight Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate, many serious people considered emigration to Canada or Australia. The thought of having Sarah Palin, who in an interview could not name a single newspaper she read and who claimed she could see Russia from her upstairs window, being only a heart-beat away from the presidency scared the bejeebars out of many U.S.-citizens. Continue reading