Topic: Material Jews
Mitzvah Kinder figurines, right to left: Malkeleh, Moishy, Totty (Father), Mommy, and Baby Chaim. "The 'Mitzvah Kinder' has been designed to represent a Yiddishe family in the world of children's play and imagination. Our charming characters made of soft lightweight rubber, makes them safe, durable and irresistible. So make the 'Mitzvah Kinder' part of your family."
The Jewish Working Group is working on an end-of-year colloquium on Material Judaism and special issue of the journal Material Religion. We are interested in examining the role that material culture plays in the intersection of Jews, media, and religion. Our goal in this endeavor is to explore the range of material culture--the designing, production, dissemination, collecting, inventorying, and use of things--as media in Jewish religious life, past and present, broadly defined. While the range of possibilities is wide, we want to demonstrate as a common interest among the various examples the value of considering the materiality of phenomena as key to understanding their value in Jewish life.
Possible items for investigation include (but are by no means limited to):
- ritual objects: as high art, as collectibles, as mass produced items
- clothing: fashion trends among Orthodox Jews, sassy t-shirts
- foodways: destination restaurants, kosher food styling in cookbooks, Jewish food packaging
- tourist productions: souvenirs, advertising, signage
- architecture: synagogue restoration, Jewish home design
- games, toys, dolls, collectibles
- greeting cards, post cards, stamps, coins, photographs
- publication design: book jackets and illustrations, sound recording album covers
Please contribute material for discussion, including readings, media, images, and ideas.