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Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Section
The Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Section of the American Folklore Society promotes studies of Jewish folklore, folklife, and ethnology. The section meets annually at American Folklore Society (AFS) conferences. It also sponsors panels, forums, and special events at the conferences. The section promotes work in Jewish folklore and ethnology among students and toward that end supports the Raphael Patai Prize for outstanding work by a student. In addition to communicating with members through a listserv, Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Listserv (jfe), and it also maintains a Facebook presence for "Jewish Folklore and Ethnology" at

The section sponsors the Jewish Cultural Studies Book Series published by Liverpool University Press for the Littman Library of Jewish Civilization.  All members who pay section dues receive the publication as a benefit of membership. (Dues submitted received in one calendar year are taken as payment for the issue that will be printed and mailed by the spring of the following calendar year.)

For information, contact the convener:

Simon J. Bronner

Current dues are 25 USD per year for a regular membership and 12 USD for under-waged membership (for students, retired members, low-income members, etc.). For information on joining the section, contact the American Folklore Society or click on the link for joining the section at the bottom of this page.

Sephardic Bar Mitzvah ceremony, Brooklyn, NY (photo: Simon Bronner)


The section sponsors a book series, Jewish Cultural Studies, published for the AFS by Liverpool University Press, and edited by Simon J. Bronner. Dues-paying members of the section receive a copy of the books as a benefit of membership. The cost of membership is priced below the retail cost of individual volumes. The series has been twice named a finalist in the National Jewish Book Awards presented by the Jewish Book Council. 

The purpose of the series is to present thematic volumes interpreting Jewish cultures ethnographically and historically around the globe, and exploring the idea of Jewish culture as it has been constructed, symbolized, produced, communicated, and consumed in diverse contexts. Themes of volumes will be interdisciplinary, drawing particularly on research in folklore studies, anthropology, cultural history, and sociology.

The series has an international editorial board, including:

Haya Bar-Itzhak, Haifa University, Israel
Dan Ben-Amos, University of Pennsylvania, United States
Jonathan Boyarin, Cornell University, United States
Michael Brenner, University of Munich, Germany
Matti Bunzl, University of Illinois, United States
Mikhail Chlenov, State Jewish Maimonides Academy, Russia
Fernando Fischman, University of Buenos Aries, Argentina
Sander Gilman, Emory University, United States
Harvey E. Goldberg, Hebrew University, Israel
Karl Grözinger, University of Potsdam, Germany
Ruth Ellen Gruber, Independent Scholar, Italy
Felicitas Heimann-Jellinek, Independent Scholar, Vienna, Austria
Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, New York University, United States
Andras Kovacs, Central European University, Hungary
Mikel Koven, University of Worcester, United Kingdom
Suzanne D. Rutland, University of Sydney, Australia
Joachim Schlör, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
Jeffrey Shandler, Rutgers University, United States

Laurence Sigal, Independent Scholar, Paris, France
Steven Siporin, Utah State University, United States
Edward van Voolen, Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Jonathan Webber, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
Jenna Weissman Joselit, George Washington University, United States
Marcin Wodzinski, University of Wroclaw, Poland

Previous volumes have included:

Jewish Cultural Studies, Vol. 5Jewishness: Expression, Identity, and Representation (2008)

Jews at Home: The Domestication of Identity (2010)

Revisioning Ritual: Jewish Traditions in Transition (2011)

Framing Jewish Culture: Boundaries and Representations (2014)

Mothers in the Jewish Cultural Imagination (2017)

For more information contact:

Jewish Cultural Studies
Simon J. Bronner, Editor

Until 2000, the section previously published a journal Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Review and newsletter Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Newsletter. These publications are available online in full-text through the HathiTrust Digital Library.

Requests for permission to reprint work from the publications of the Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Section should be directed to Simon Bronner. Please provide specifics about which material would be used, a description of the proposed outlet, and the place of the reprinted material in that outlet.

Prizes and Travel Awards

The Section sponsors the Raphael Patai Travel Grant of up to 300 USD for a student of Jewish folklore and ethnology to attend the Annual Meeting of the American Folklore Society.

How to apply: see the AFS Review for the most recent information. Contact the section conveners with questions.

Prior to 2019, the Raphael Patai Prize was awarded for the best student paper in Jewish Folklore and Ethnology; past prizes have been bestowed to:

Kate A. Reyes for her essay, "Demonology and Magic Ritual Texts in the Dead Sea Scrolls,” completed at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.  The paper was part of her Honours dissertation under the supervision of Professor James R. Davila. Ms. Reyes graduated with an MA in Biblical Studies and Hebrew. Honorable mentions are awarded to Matthew Singer, doctoral candidate in American Studies at the Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg, for his essay "Folk Art from the Peddler’s Bed: The Creative Legacy and Historic Context of Jewish Fraktur Scriveners Justus Epstein and Martin Wetzler,” under the supervision of Professor Simon J. Bronner and Tsila Zan-Bar Tsur, who recently received her Ph.D. in folklore and traditional Jewish culture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, for her essay "The Bathhouse and the Mikveh: Transformative Spaces in the Life of Jewish Women in Afghanistan,” under the supervision of Professor Hagar Salamon, 2013.

Magdalena Luszczynska (University College London) for "Father-Son Relationships in Medieval Ashkenaz" and Amy Milligan (Penn State Harrisburg) for "Wearing Many Hats: Head Covering Practices of Orthodox Jewish Women." (see vol. 4 of the Jewish Cultural Studies Series), 2011.
Jillian Gould (folklore, Memorial University of Newfoundland) for "Shiva as a Creative Ritual in an Institutional Home” (see vol. 3 of the Jewish Cultural Studies Series), 2009.
Gabrielle Berlinger (folklore, Indiana University) for "770 Eastern Parkway: Brooklyn Brownstone, Sacred Space" (see vol. 2 of the Jewish Cultural Studies Series) and Irit Koren (gender studies, Bar-Ilan University) for "The Power of Discourse: Issues of Gender and Social Control Regarding Changing the Jewish Wedding Ritual" (see vol. 3 of theJewish Cultural Studies Series), 2007.
Eve Jochnowitz of New York University for "Dining Out in Russian-Jewish New York." (see The Restaurant Book: Ethnographies of Where We Eat [2007]), 2005.
Elly Teman (cultural anthropology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem) for "The Red String," a study of the visual symbolism of red strings worn by contemporary Jewish Israelis (see vol. 1 of the Jewish Cultural Studies Series), and Roni Weinstein (Jewish history, Hebrew University, Jerusalem) for "Marriage Rituals Italian Style: A Historical Anthropological Perspective on Early Modern Italian Jews," a study of the distinctive Italian Jewish formation of a rite of passage in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (see Marriage Rituals Italian Style, 2004), 2003.

For information on contributing to the endowment fund for the Raphael Patai award, please contact  the AFS Office.

Click here to join the Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Section.

Already a member? Click here to visit the member-only group.

Click here to pay section dues ($25 regular$12 under-waged).


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