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Dr. Avinoam Patt, Doris and Simon Konover Chair of Judaic Studies and Director, Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life at the University of Connecticut present this talk on his research.
Why the Bicycle Riders? Why The Jews? It has been commonly remarked that among the defining features of Jewish humor is the tendency to laugh at the Jewish self. As a people with a long history of persecution, Jews have neutralized the hostility of the outside world, first by internalizing it and then by detonating it through a joke. Jews have also used humor as a weapon against the powerful and as a coping mechanism to deal with persecution and trauma. In this talk, Prof. Patt will examine the many functions of Jewish humor as a response to antisemitism and the Holocaust, and ask whether the Jewish tradition of responding to persecution with punchlines can still be effective today.