The dog has captured the Jewish imagination from antiquity to the contemporary period, with the image of the dog often used to characterise and demean Jewish populations in medieval Christendom. In the interwar period, dogs were still considered goyishe nakhes ("a gentile pleasure") and virtually unheard of in the Jewish homes of the shtetl. Yet Azit the Paratrooping Dog of modern Israeli cinema, one of many examples of dogs as heroes of the Zionist narrative, demonstrates that the dog has captured the contemporary Jewish imagination. The book discusses specific cultural manifestations of the relationship between dogs and Jews, from ancient times to the present. Covering a geographical range extending from the Middle East through Europe and to North America, the contributors -- all of whom are senior university scholars specializing in various disciplines -- provide a unique cross-cultural, trans-national, diachronic perspective. An important theme is the constant tension between domination/control and partnership which underpins the relationship of humans to animals, as well as the connection between Jewish societies and their broader host cultures.
A public increasingly interested in cultural history in general and Jewish history in particular will benefit from the diverse perspectives provided herein. One need look no further than the popular media surrounding President Obama's choice of a canine companion: dog-owners and dog-lovers, and all those involved at university level with cultural studies, can deepen their understanding of the humancanine relationship by reading this volume.
Publisher: Sussex Academic Press