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The New School Continuing Education

The Art of the Kvetch: Jewish Humor as Secularism

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6:30 p.m.

The modern tradition of Jewish humor emerged from the same ideological ferment that produced Zionism, Liberal Judaism, Modern Orthodoxy, and a wide variety of secular forms of Jewish identity. To this day, Jewish humor reinforces the bond between Jews even as globalization has brought it to millions of non-Jews. Is this lively tradition the result of a seed of humor planted deep in Jewish textual traditions, or is Jewish humor an exercise in self- loathing by an insecure minority? Having transcended its Yiddish forms in American comedy (from Lenny Bruce to Larry David), is Jewish humor a way for Jews to be Jews in a genre at once particular and universally accessible?

Participants include:

Michael Wex, author of Just Say Nu: Yiddish for Every Occasion (When English Just Won’t Do) and Born to Kvetch; Noah Isenberg, author of Between Redemption and Doom: The Strains of German-Jewish Modernism and editor and translator of The Face of East European Jewry by Arnold Zweig; Jeffrey Israel, author of a dissertation on Jewish humor and politics; and Val Vinokur, author of The Trace of Judaism: Dostoevsky, Mandelstam, Babel, Levinas.

Presented by Jewish Studies at Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts and the Jewish Cultural Studies Program.


Wollman Hall, Eugene Lang Building, 65 West 11th Street, 5th floor (enter at 66 West 12th Street)

Free; no tickets or reservations required; seating is first-come first-served

Contact Information:

For more information on Jewish Studies at Eugene Lang College, please see For more information on Jewish Cultural Studies at NSGS, please see

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