The Healthy Jew traces the culturally revealing story of how Moses, the rabbis, and other Jewish thinkers came to be understood as medical authorities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Such a radically different interpretation, by scholars and popular writers alike, resulted in new, widespread views on the salubrious effects of, for example, circumcision, Jewish sexual purity laws, and kosher foods. The Healthy Jew explores this interpretative tradition in the light of a number of broader debates over 'civilization' and 'culture', Orientalism, religion and science (in the wake of Darwin), anti-Semitism and Jewish apologetics, and the scientific and medical discoveries and debates that revolutionized the fields of bacteriology, preventive medicine, and genetics/eugenics.
Introduction; 'Links in a long chain': Jews, Judaism, health and hygiene; 1. 'Tis a little people, but it has done great things': the role of health and medicine in modern Jewish apologetics; 2. Moses the microbiologist: Alfred Nossig's The Social Hygiene of the Jews; 3. Healthy Hebrews, healthy Jews: the Bible as a sanitary code in Anglo-American medical literature; 4. From ghetto to jungle: eugenics, social Darwinism, and the reinterpretation of Jewish history; 5. TB or not TB, that was a Jewish question: kashrut and the prevention of tuberculosis; 6. 'Then what advantage does the Jew have?': Judaism as a model for Christian health; 7. Conclusion.