Jewish Theatre

Ahuva Belkin and Gad Kaynar

in The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies

Published in print December 2004 | ISBN: 9780199280322
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Jewish Theatre

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  • Judaism and Jewish Studies
  • Religious Subjects in Art



This article describes the history of the Jewish theatre, Jewish theatre studies, the history of the Israeli theatre from 1889 to 2001, and Israeli theatre studies. Although Jews were known as the People of the Book, and despite the very rich literature attached to Judaism, the dramatic genre never became an integral part of Jewish civilization, and theatre as an institution was never a part of its cultural life. This may be in part because the Bible and the book of oral law — the Talmud and later rabbinical writings — contain vehement exhortations against the theatre. In Judaism, jesters are identified with idleness and heresy. Meanwhile, the extent of performative activity in Israel is impressive for a country with no theatrical tradition and a population of merely 4.5 million Jewish and Hebrew-speaking inhabitants. Between 1970 and 1990, Israel held first place in the world in theatre attendance per capita.

Keywords: Jewish theatre studies; Israeli theatre studies; People of the Book; Judaism

Article.  18904 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Religious Subjects in Art

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