liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
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[personal profile] randomling asked for some recs for books/movies/other media that might give me a bit of an idea of the insider's view of British Jewish culture!

This is a totally great question, thank you [personal profile] randomling! (As an aside, it is emphatically not good etiquette to pester people from minority cultures for introductory resources, but for me personally, I am very happy to answer those kinds of questions from friends, and I said this to [personal profile] randomling when they mentioned wanting to ask about media recs. And I'm usually happy to answer intro type questions from strangers too, as long as I judge they're asking in good faith.)

The obvious choice for this is Jonathan Freedland's Jacob's gift. It's specifically written to introduce British Jewish culture to interested non-Jews, as well as to his son who he felt might not otherwise understand his parents' heritage. I mean, Freedland is just one guy and his book is specifically personal, but he's trying to showcase the ways his family's story both is and isn't "representative" of the typical British Jewish experience.

Specifically about religion, but obviously including some elements of culture, I usually recommend R' Jonathan Romain's Faith and practice about Reform Judaism specifically, though it's a little dated by now. And R' Pete Tobias' A Judaism for the twenty-first century about Liberal / Progressive Judaism, which is a rather specifically British flavour of Judaism! And for generally Orthodox approaches I recommend the writing of R' Louis Jacobs. The book of Jewish belief is dated but accessible, for example. I should note that R' Jacobs got thrown out of Orthodox Judaism due to stupid politics, but his background and attitudes will I think give you something most Orthodox Jews would recognize, and he doesn't try to pretend that Orthodox Judaism is synonymous with Judaism.

As a novel, I'm somewhat fond of Naomi Alderman's Disobedience. It's not perfect, and it's set in a very particular segment of the English Jewish community, but it's much more of a (former) insider's view of that particular group than you often get, and Alderman is a sharp observer. To the point that I'm pretty sure I recognize the real people many of the characters are based on.

Other media: I haven't seen it myself but I have heard lots of people being very enthusiastic about Simon Schama's recent TV documentary The history of the Jews. It's a global history of the Jews but it was made by a British historian for British TV, so I expect it probably has a fairly British focus.

It's a very minor little comedy but The Infidel struck me as well observed and not relying on cheap stereotypes. Some of Baddiel's other stuff, novels and stand-up, mentions Jewish themes more or less centrally, and he's mocking but from an insider perspective.

It's a bit older, but husband and wife Jewish comedians Maureen Lipman and Jack Rosenthal did some quite nice affectionately self-mocking stuff, and definitely their comedy is coming from an insider perspective. Rosenthal's Bar mitzvah boy is not bad, for example. Lipman wrote a bunch of comic autobiographies which often mention her Jewish background, as well as playing the gently stereotypical Jewish mother in the old BT adverts (if you remember those) and some similar roles in other comedies.

There must be more I'm not thinking of, but let me post this just to squeak in before midnight and get back on schedule!

[December Days masterpost]
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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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