Taking Stock

Taking Stock

Cultures of Enumeration in Contemporary Jewish Life
Edited by Michal Kravel-Tovi and Deborah Dash Moore
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 06/27/2016
Format: Hardback 12 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-02047-5
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Taking Stock is a collection of lively, original essays that explore the cultures of enumeration that permeate contemporary and modern Jewish life. Speaking to the profound cultural investment in quantified forms of knowledge and representation—whether discussing the Holocaust or counting the numbers of Israeli and American Jews—these essays reveal a social life of Jewish numbers. As they trace the uses of numerical frameworks, they portray how Jews define, negotiate, and enact matters of Jewish collectivity. The contributors offer productive perspectives into ubiquitous yet often overlooked aspects of the modern Jewish experience.

Author Bio

Michal Kravel-Tovi is Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University. Her work has appeared in American Ethnologist, Ethnic and Racial Studies, and the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute.

Deborah Dash Moore is Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of History and Director of the Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. She is author of GI Jews: How World War II Changed a Generation.


“Blazes a new trail by questioning the enumeration and rationalization of modern Jewish life and, thus, holding some of the most deeply held truths up to new kinds of scrutiny.”
 — Lila Corwin Berman, Temple University

“This is a fascinating volume that accomplishes two tasks at once: It uses the lens of enumeration, numbers, and counting to show a variety of topics in Jewish studies from a novel perspective, revealing much that otherwise would simply not be seen. It uses the lens of Jewish studies to investigate the history and culture of enumeration, statistics, and quantification.”
 — Shaul Kelner, Vanderbilt University

“Taking Stock is...an important contribution to a Jewish conversation about how we understand who we are and how we put this knowledge to use. The editors are to be commended for curating this argument in a way that will provoke further discussion and new consideration of quantitative data about individuals and communities.”
 — Contemporary Jewry

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Counting in Jewish Michal Kravel-Tovi
Part I. Counting the Dead: Iconic Numbers and Collective Memory
1. Six Million: The Numerical Icon of the Holocaust Oren Baruch Stier
2. Breathing Life into Iconic Numbers: Yad Vashem’s "Shoah Victims’ Names Recovery Project" and the Constitution of a Posthumous Census of Six Million Holocaust Dead Carol A. Kidron
3. Putting Numbers into Space: Place Names, Collective Remembrance, and Forgetting in Israeli Culture Yael Zerubavel
Part II. Counting the Living: Putting "the Jewish" in Social Science
4. "Jewish Crime" by the Numbers, or Putting the "Social" in Jewish Social Science Mitchell B. Hart
5. Counting People: The Co-Production of Ethnicity and Jewish Majority in Israel-Palestine Anat Leibler
6. Wet Numbers: The Language of Continuity Crisis and the Work of Care among the Organized American Jewish Community Michal Kravel-Tovi
Part III. Counting Objects: Material Subjects and the Social Lives of Enumerated Things
7. "Let’s Start with the Big Ones:" Numbers, Thin Description and the ‘Magic’ of Yiddish at the Yiddish Book Center Josh Friedman
8. 130 Kilograms of Matza, 3,000 Hard-boiled Eggs, 100 Kilograms of Haroset and 2,000 Balls of Gefilte Fish: Hyperbolic Reckoning on Passover Vanessa L. Ochs
Postscript: Balancing Accounts: Commemoration and Commensuration Theodore M. Porter

List of Contributors