Invited to answer questions about his relationship to Judaism, Jacques Derrida spoke through Franz Kafka: “As for myself, I could imagine another Abraham.”
From the experience of a summons that surprises us and prompts the query “Who, me?” Derrida explores the movement between growing up Jewish, “becoming Jewish,” and “Jewish being” or existence. His essay “The Other Abraham” appears here in English for the first time.
We no longer confront “Judaism” but “judeity,” multiple Judaisms and Jewishnesses, manifold ways of being and writing as a Jew—in Derrida’s case, as a French-speaking Algerian deprived of, then restored to French nationality in the 1940s.
What is it to be a Jew and a philosopher? How has the notion of “Jewish identity” been written into and across Jewish literature, Jewish thought, and Jewish languages? Here distinguished scholars address these questions, contrasting Derrida’s thought with philosophical predecessors such as Rosenzweig, Levinas, Celan, and Scholem, and tracing confluences between deconstruction and Kabbalah. Derrida’s relationship to the universalist aspirations in contemporary theology is also discussed, and his late autobiographical writings are evaluated.
This multifaceted volume aims to open the question of Jewishness, above all, to hold it open as a question, though not one of practical or theoretical identity. As much a contestation of identity as a profound reflection on what it means today to seek, elude, and finally to wrestle with the significance of “being-jew,” Judeities invites us to revisit the human condition in the twenty-first century.