new-york

“Too Jewish? Challenging Traditional Identities”

The Jewish Museum

The small room that served as the entrance to “Too Jewish?” contained: Deborah Kass’ Triple Silver Yentl (My Elvis), 1992, a sly homage to Warhol’s “Elvis” series in which Streisand packs a Talmud instead of a pistol, flanked on the right by two vintage Barbies and a Midge doll, and on the left by a female mannequin, resplendent in Jean Paul Gaultier’s faux-fur hat with synthetic pais. This immersion in popular culture was both surprising and welcome. It didn’t seem to matter that Gaultier’s 1993 Hasidic line never worked for me; that my response to Streisand posing as a young Talmudic student in Yentl was tepid; and that I never gave Barbie the time of day when I was growing up. Gazing at the icons of a popular culture I knew, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of the familiar, which was followed almost immediately by the realization of how rare that feeling is.

As a secular Jew born

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