Jewish Community in Palestine During Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

That was a term that was used only later by historians and others that talked about that particular period of time in German history (Kolb, 2004). Those who were involved with the Republic called it the German Reich (Peukert, 1993). From the point of creation of the Republic, Germany was launched into an experiment in modernity that did not turn out the way that they hoped it would.

Part of the reason for this was that the experiment did not take place under circumstances that would ensure the success of the Weimar Republic (Kolb, 2004). The idea behind the Republic was to create a democracy that Germany could then survive under, thus assuring freedom and peace for all of its citizens (Peukert, 1993). While this was an admirable goal, the reality of what was created and how well it actually worked was much different from the desired plan.

Unfortunately, the political compromises that should have been made were in fact not made, and this shrinking away from compromise stopped the government from appearing legitimate in the eyes of the German people (Kolb, 2004). Germany has traditionally had problems with governmental structure, and this has caused a general distrust. Now the country operates much more efficiently, but it struggled for some time. The government that was operating during the time of the Weimar republic was not as democratic as it was designed to be, and had difficulties in communicating with the governments of other countries, as well as with the people of Germany.

In addition, the economic and material bases were also shrinking, causing problems with the liberal government and the welfare structure it created (Peukert, 1993). Too many people found themselves out of jobs, and they had no choice but to turn to the government for help, even though many of them were angry at the government for initially causing the problem. While they felt that the government should take care of them in their time of need, they also retained much hostility toward it, because they believed that more could have been done to protect their jobs and the way of life that they were used to.

Essentially, the Weimar Republic was a tour of all of the fateful choices that were seen to be possible in the modern world (Peukert, 1993). It moved from one problem to another without actually solving any of the problems that it was facing. Instead, it seemed only as though political difficulties gave way to economic difficulties, etc. One difficulty was temporarily forgotten with the beginning of a new one, but when the old one did not disappear, individuals were quickly reminded of it again. The only way to correct the problems was to make sweeping changes and create new leadership. Eventually, Adolf Hitler would take that role.

Nearly 6 million Jewish people went to their deaths from 1939 to 1945, during World War II. In 1947, the United Nations created a Jewish state in Palestine, which in 1948 became Israel (Baron, 1986). Jewish history is somewhat hard to tie together because there were so many Jewish individuals living all over the world during this time. Not everyone treated those who believed in Judaism the same way that the Germans did (Goffman, 1968). Many people were much more understanding of those who had different faiths, and they did not treat the Jewish people as though they were wrong because they believed something that was slightly different (Baron, 1986).

Some of this may have been because many Jewish individuals lived near Christians, and even though Christianity and Judaism are not the same they do share many common threads and worship the same version of God (Baron, 1986). However, this is not to say that the Jewish people were not persecuted by Christians in some areas of the world (Goffman, 1968). They even found ways to turn this into a joke, but it took a long time for that to take place. Some things just are not immediately funny, and some things never become funny. Jewish people even now do not joke about the holocaust very much, but some of them do, and it appears to be a way of healing (Telushkin, 1998).

Jewish people are normally tight-knit groups, and their religious leaders are their Rabbis. While they see the world in terms of believers and nonbelievers they are not violent about it as the Germans were (Baron, 1986). They do not see other races as being inferior simply because they choose to believe something different, and many Jewish people alive today still have a difficult time when Germany is mentioned because of the persecution that their ancestors had to endure (Goffman, 1968). That does not mean that there are no violent people who believe in Judaism. There are violent people in any society or religion if one looks hard enough. In general, however, Jewish people are tolerant people who believe what they believe and put a great deal of faith and love and work into their families and their religion.

How Humor Fostered Community

Instead of picking on and harming others, they find an outlet for any upset that they have over themselves or others by making jokes (Berger, 1997). Many of these are very self-deprecating, but they are also often very funny. It appears that this appeals to people so easily because all people have things about themselves or their societal groups that they feel uncomfortable about. They might think that these are taboo or should not be talked about, but everything should be talked out (Berger, 1997). Talking things through is how people come to a better understanding of themselves and of others. Without this, people do not evolve - not individually, and not as groups. It is unfortunate, but there are so many people who are stuck.

They find nothing funny because they cannot laugh at themselves and they do not understand that they have to learn to let go of the past so that they can enjoy the future. Jewish comedians and many other Jewish people get that. They have moved on from the destruction of temples and the holocaust, and they will continue to move on from any other persecution that they face. (Berger, 1997).

As times have evolved, some of the modern areas have blended in with some of the more traditional areas of Judaism. Social change becomes a problem for religion quite often because many of the holy books of any religion were written so long ago that many of the things that happen today were not addressed (Baron, 1986). Jokes were probably not addressed, either, but these are worked seamlessly into the lives of many Jewish people and they are able to reconcile this with their beliefs. Basically, there are several different categories that fall into the Jewish religion.

There are the individuals who believe in rabbinic Judaism, which is the traditional form of Judaism. There are also reform, integrationist-Orthodox, and conservative forms of Judaism (Baron, 1986). The Zionist movement also came about through the trials and tribulations of social change, and it was this movement that pointed out to the others in Judaism how unreliable and strange the world actually it is. Most Jewish comedians fall into this more 'relaxed' form of Judaism (Berger, 1997).

Changes to Judaism

Zionism changed Judaism as it had been formerly known, and took the signs, symbols, and language of an ancient religion and turned it into something that can be applied to modern times without losing the purpose and intent that belonged to the Torah (Baron, 1986). Traditional Judaism believes that the Torah was written by Moses, but religious scholars have determined that it is actually a collection of works written by several different people during that time (Baron, 1986).

Not all of the stories were written in the exact same time period, and many of the stories were blended together to make one. If the holy book that a person has believed in throughout history suddenly turns out to be something other than what one thought it was, what is one to do? There are only so many ways to handle this. Despair is certainly one way to address the issue, but it will solve nothing (Berger, 1997). Joking and enjoying life is much easier. Just because things are not what a person thought they were certainly does not mean that those things are bad.

Many Jews who had been living in Western Europe and had been somewhat restricted to closed and impoverished communities were eventually given the rest of the rights that normal citizens had (Baron, 1986). This was good in many ways, but it also threatened the existence of many of the close-knit Jewish communities. They began to intermarry with Gentiles and work and live beside them (Baron, 1986).

They had to see how their society was changing, and some of them fought that change. Others, who looked at things much differently, learned that if they joked about it…

Sources Used in Document:


Baron, S.W. (1986). A Social and Religious History of the Jews. New York: Columbia University Press.

Berger, a. (1997). The genius of the Jewish joke. New York: Transaction Publishers.

Goffman, E. (1968). Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Kolb, Eberhard. 2004. The Weimar Republic. New York: Routledge.

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