Sewing Mothers: Re-envisioning Jewish-Christian Relations in Sholem Asch's "on a Carnival Night"

Ruthie Abeliovich, Yonatan Moss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A close examination of early twentieth-century literature written in Hebrew and Yiddish reveals that many of its first representations of Christianity put a central emphasis on Mary. This fact has been overlooked in previous scholarship fixated on the role of Jesus. Our article aims to fill this lacuna by focusing on Mary's appearance in a short, controversial story published in 1909 by Sholem Asch. Through a close reading of Mary's encounter with the matriarch Rachel, we define Asch's 'maternal model,' an alternative paradigm for Jewish-Christian relations. We argue that the marginalization of Mary from the scholarly conversation is not a slipup. Rather, it is part of a gendered scheme that prioritized Jesus over his mother and narratives of persecution and victimhood over care and obligation. We show how Asch's artfully constructed fictional formation offers a political position founded on empathy and interconnectivity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Jewish Studies
StateAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Ruthie Abeliovich and Yonatan Moss.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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