Jewish Humor: An Outcome of Historical Experience, Survival and Wisdom

This book details the evolution of Jewish humour, highlighting its long history from the period of the Bible to the present day, and includes a wide spectrum of styles that are expressed in various works and fields, including the Bible, the Talmud, poetry, literature, folklore, jokes, movies, and television series. It focuses upon three socio-geographic regions where the majority of Jewish people lived during the 18th to 21st centuries and where Jewish humor was created, developed and thrived: Eastern Europe, the United States and Israel. The text is a complicated mosaic based on three central components of Jewish life: historical experience, survival, and wisdom. It shows that one cannot understand Jewish humor without referring to the various factors which led the Jewish people to create their unusual sense of humor.


Professor Arie Sover, PhD, is a Lecturer and Researcher in Communication and Humor Studies and works at the Open University of Israel. He focuses on humor research, especially Jewish humor. He has published many articles and five books in this area, namely The Languages of Humor (2018); Laughter: An Interdisciplinary Anthology of Humor Research (2018); The Importance of Not Being Ernest (2012); Plays: Comedy, Absurd, Satire (2010); and Humor: The Pathway to Human Laughter (2009). He is the founder and Editor of the Israeli Journal of Humor Research and Humor Mekuvan, and Chair of the Israeli Society for Humor Studies.

“Arie Sover’s Jewish Humor: An Outcome of Historical Experience, Survival and Wisdom, is a fantastic book. It is really a triumph and an important study of Jewish humor. A combination of superb scholarship and, unlike many books on humor, it is full of great jokes and humorous texts. The material and all the topics are fascinating and extremely insightful. [It is an] important contribution not only to the study of Jewish humor, but all humor. It deals with Jewish humor from the Bible to contemporary humor. In addition to being full of remarkable insights into the nature of humor and its social and cultural functions, it is a study of Judaism, its history and culture through the prism of Jewish humor. It is an indispensable source for everyone interested in Jewish humor.”
Arthur Asa Berger
Professor Emeritus of Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts, San Francisco State University

“Arie Sover’s Jewish Humor is a virtual encyclopedia, a survey with extensive historical descriptions of the situation of the Jews in various periods and locations, as well as numerous examples of the humor and comedy to be found there, ranging from the humor of the Bible and Talmud, to the humorous poetry of medieval Spain, from wedding jesters and Purim plays in the towns of eastern Europe, to American stand-up comedy and Israeli literary and television satire. Anyone who hopes to traverse this vast terrain will need this book as a guide.”
Elliott Oring
Professor Emeritus of Anthropology California State University, Los Angeles

“In this remarkable book, Arie Sover historicizes Jewish humor: he includes testimony and analysis of various forms of humor created in different periods of Jewish history, beginning with the Bible and ending with Israeli humor, via significant epochs, places and events, such as the Middle Ages, the Renaissance Spanish expulsion, the Enlightenment, the Holocaust, and twentieth-century America. The span of this book is enriched by including all Jewry and addressing many genres of Jewish humor in various media. Moreover, Sover’s book encompasses literature, theatre, jokes, cinema, television, and radio. The tour de force this unique saga accomplishes can be described as follows: by telling us the story of Jewish history through humor, Sover’s book is an event not only in humor studies, but in intellectual history.”
Lydia Amir
Visiting Professor, Department of Philosophy, Tufts University, USA

Buy This Book

ISBN: 1-5275-6447-9

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-6447-3

Release Date: 20th April 2021

Pages: 339

Price: £67.99

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