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.
Bettina Bergo is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Montreal and the author of Levinas: Between Ethics and Politics. The most recent of her many translations is, with Michael B. Smith, Judeities: Questions for Jacques Derrida (Fordham). Joseph Cohen is Lecturer of Philosophy at University College Dublin (Ireland). He has written Le spectre juif de Hegel (Galilee, 2005), Le sacrifice de Hegel (Galilee, 2007) and Alternances de la metaphysique: Essais sur E. Levinas (Galilee, 2009). In collaboration with Dermot Moran, he coauthored The Husserl Dictionary (Continuum, 2012). He also edited, in collaboration with Raphael Zagury- Orly, the volume Judeities- Questions for Jacques Derrida (Fordham University Press, 2007) and, in collaboration with Gerard Bensussan, Heidegger- le danger et la promesse (Kime, 2006). He is, since 2008, a permanent member of the editorial committee for the journals Les Temps Modernes (Gallimard) and Cites (Presses Universitaires de France). His domains of research are German idealism, phenomenology and contemporary French and German philosophy. Raphael Zagury- Orly teaches philosophy at the Bezalel Academy of Fine Arts in Jerusalem and at the Cohn Institute of the University of Tel Aviv. He is the Head of the MFA Program at the Bezalel Academy of Fine Arts. He has authored Questionner encore (Galilee, 2010). He has also coedited, with Joseph Cohen and Bettina Bergo, Judeities- Questions for Jacques Derrida (Fordham University Press, 2007). As a permanent member of the editorial committee of the French journal Les Temps Modernes, he has coordinated, in collaboration with Joseph Cohen, Heidegger: Qu'appelle- t-on le lieu? (July- October 2008, no. 650), and Derrida: L' evenement deconstruction (July- October 2012, no. 669- 670). He is also Scientific Editor at the Resling Editions in Tel- Aviv (Israel) where he has directed Hebrew translations of Derrida, Deleuze, and Bataille. Michael B. Smith is Professor Emeritus of French and Philosophy at Berry College.