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Beyond the Land

Diaspora Israeli Culture in the Twenty-First Century

Melissa Weininger

Jewish Studies, Language and Literature, Israel and Middle East

Published: August 2023
ISBN: 9780814350591
Pages: 232 Size: 6 x 9
Published: August 2023
ISBN: 9780814350607
Pages: 232 Size: 6 x 9
Published: August 2023
ISBN: 9780814350614

This thought-provoking exploration of literature and art examines contemporary Israeli works created in and about diaspora that exemplify new ways of envisioning a Jewish national identity. Diaspora has become a popular mechanism to imagine non-sovereign models of Jewish peoplehood, but these models often valorize powerlessness in sometimes troubling ways. In this book, Melissa Weininger theorizes a new category of "diaspora Israeli culture" that is formed around and through notions of homeland and complicate the binary between diaspora and Israel. The works addressed here inhabit and imagine diaspora from the vantage point of the putative homeland, engaging both diasporic and Zionist models simultaneously through language, geography, and imagination. These examples contend with the existence of the state of Israel and its complex implications for diaspora Jewish identities and nationalisms, as well as the implications for Zionism of those diasporic conceptions of Jewish national identity. This dynamic understanding of both an Israeli and a Jewish diaspora works to envision a non-hegemonic Jewish nationalism that can negotiate both political imagination and reality.

Melissa Weininger is assistant professor of Jewish studies at California State University, Northridge. She has previously published works in peer-reviewed journals including Studies in American Jewish Literature, Studies in the Novel, Prooftexts, and Shofar. Her scholarship engages with topics including diaspora, Zionism and Jewish nationalism, Holocaust representation, and translingual, Hebrew, and Yiddish literature. She is also codirector of the Association for Jewish Studies' Paula Hyman Mentorship Program.

Weininger’s book challenges the standard construction of home(land), diaspora, and the relationship between the two. Combining attention to detail, insightful reading, and lucid prose, it rewrites the Israeli literary landscape, bringing coherence to an unruly bookshelf of contemporary must-read novels.

– Nancy E. Berg, professor of Hebrew and comparative literature, Washington University in St. Louis

In this rich, compelling, and timely study of the productive entanglement of diaspora and exile in Israeli culture, Melissa Weininger brilliantly maps the new cultural horizons that contemporary Israeli art imagines, and even activates, beyond its national borders.

– Adriana X. Jacobs, associate professor of modern Hebrew literature, University of Oxford

Using the bold category of ‘Diaspora Israeli Culture,’ Weininger’s timely and thought-provoking book guides us through contemporary Jewish literature and art in Israel, America, and Europe. Moving deftly between speculative fiction and multimedia projects, Hebrew in the Midwest and New York and poetic haflas in Berlin, the book illuminates current globalized, translingual, transnational Jewish cultures.

– Shachar Pinker, professor of Middle East studies and Judaic studies, University of Michigan