Hard to be a Jew in Mandatory Tel Aviv: Relocating the Eastern European jewish experience

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This article addresses two Hebrew stage adaptations based on Sholem Aleichem's Der blutike shpas (The Bloody Hoax) produced in Mandatory Palestine: Hard to Be a Jew, which premiered at Habima in December 1936, and a parody of this play, titled Easy to Be a Jew, which premiered at Ha-matateh, the satirical Yishuv theater company, in June 1937. These productions constituted a symbolic zone of boundary-work between the Yiddish culture associated with the old home in eastern Europe and the Hebrew culture of Zionist Palestine, encapsulating the eastern European Jewish experience on the stage. The stage performances and reception of the plays indicate that the experience of the new land and the sense of communal belonging to the Zionist collective was fashioned after this encapsulated model of Jewish experience in eastern Europe. Thus, the adaptation of Zionist cultural identity was marked as being continuous with the old world, rather than rebellion against it or its radical transformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-99
Number of pages25
JournalJewish Social Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Israeli Science Foundation, grant no. 953/17.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2018 The Trustees of Indiana University.


  • Cultural translation
  • Ha-matateh
  • Habima
  • Hebrew theater
  • Sholem Aleichem
  • Yiddish theater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Religious studies


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