By Abraham Melamed
The evolving picture of the Black within the heritage of Jewish tradition is being traced the following within the conceptual framework of modern post-modern theories of the 'other'. The learn specializes in the mechanisms through which an ethno-religious minority crew thought of by way of the dominant majority to be the inferior 'other' identifies its personal inferior different. whereas till lately such a lot scholarly awareness has been dedicated to the attitudes in the direction of the Jews as 'other', this can be the 1st entire dialogue of the attitudes of the Jews to their very own 'others'.
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Additional info for The Image of the Black in Jewish Culture: A History of the Other (RoutledgeCurzon Jewish Philosophy Series)
Differently from other languages, Hebrew did not designate the black by skin colour but by geographic and ethnic origin, as the descendants of Cush son of Ham son of Noah. His skin colour is not mentioned, nor were the original connotations of the name negative. Only much later, in the culture of the Sages, was cushi unambiguously linked with blackness and acquired the negative connotations that have remained with it ever since. Hence the word ‘black’ (shahor) has replaced it in recent years. A Hebrew nursery tune, ‘Cushi little doggy’, about a black dog with this dubious pet name, is no longer sung.
The subject designates superiority by defining the natural inferiority of the other. Following Claude Lévi-Strauss’s theory that human societies always create a dichotomy between nature, perceived in a negative sense, and culture, defined as positive, the subject always claims to be identified with culture, while the 25 SOURCES OF THE SYMBOL other – be it woman or black, gentile or Jew – depending on the designator – will always be identified with nature in its negative sense, in terms like ‘primitive’ and ‘animal’.
Even his friend Engels affectionately called Marx ‘dear Moor’. Marx was quite aware of his relatively dark skin and naturally projected his inferiority feelings on Lasalle, to humiliate him. 74 Hence too the emancipationist western European Jew, settled there a relatively long time, so sharply rejected the Ostjude, the eastern European Jew, ‘black’ in countenance and in clothing. ‘Cultivated’ European Jews had become a bit lighter, in their own eyes at least, and were afraid to be identified once again with the dark, ‘primitive’ east Europeans.