Email Email   


Traditions handed down for generations, including customs, legends, superstitions, beliefs, and folk songs current among the folk or common people.

Jewish folklore is varied and rich in content, partly because it has absorbed the folkways of many other peoples. In addition, the Jewish people’s close tie to the Bible and the long periods of persecution and isolation gave rise to a distinctively Jewish folklore. The Talmud and Midrash, as well as theological, ethical, and moral works of later centuries, contain a wealth of customs and beliefs. The legend of the Golem and of the 36 anonymous righteous men (Lamed Vav) for whose sake the world survives, tales about the Dybbuk, and superstitions about the Evil Eye, or Ayin-Hara, are a few examples.

In the modern period beginning in the mid-18th century, Jewish emancipation and assimilation have led to the disappearance of many of these traditions. The Nazis’ destruction of the Jewish culture centers in Eastern Europe during World War II aided the process. A number of individuals and institutions have collected and published volumes on Jewish folkways. The YIVO Institute of Jewish Research in New York and the new Yad Vashem Institute in Israel are currently making important contributions to the collection and study of Jewish folklore.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email