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In the Biblical sense: revealing Jewish sex

PUBLISHED: 14:00 06 March 2008 | UPDATED: 14:50 07 September 2010

A JEWISH academic is set to ruffle some religious feathers by publishing a book exploring raunchy themes in the Old Testament

Katie Davies

A JEWISH academic is set to ruffle some religious feathers by publishing a book exploring raunchy themes in the Old Testament.

Jews and Sex is the title of Dr Nathan Abrams' latest work, a collection of controversial essays on topics including sexual imagery and homosexuality in the Bible, lesbian Yiddish poetry and Jews in pornography.

The book is being launched in Belsize Park next week and the event is likely to cause a stir. However the 36-year-old author, a former JFS pupil from a traditional Jewish family, is unperturbed.

"It all started with an essay I wrote for the Jewish Quarterly on pornography and then my publisher contacted me about a book," said Dr Abrams, who grew up in Highgate and is now a lecturer at Bangor University.

"It wasn't an essay to condone the porn industry, but it is an aspect of Jewish life good or bad so let's talk about it. Ron Jeremy, who is one of the most famous porn stars, is Jewish.

"Some people don't like it but, just like every other group, sex is a part of us and many Jews do pride themselves on their liberal attitudes."

The book has already been the subject of criticism from within the Jewish community.

According to Mr Abrams, some anti-Semites have taken up the book as justifying their hateful stance towards Jewish people. And that has prompted many in the community to attack it in response.

"Nazi propaganda made Jewish men out to be very effeminate, but then there was also propaganda that painted Jewish men as stealing away and corrupting gentile women," said Dr Abrams

"That is why anti-Semitic people like the book - they say it justifies this view of sexually corrupting Jews.

"I did think about this before I put together the book, but these people shouldn't stop us from having a healthy debate."

One local institution backing Dr Abrams is the Jewish Museum, which is organising the panel discussion on the book next Thursday at the Washington Arms pub on England's Lane.

Mr Abrams insists the motives behind his latest writing were purely academic and he is prepared to face any criticism levelled at him.

He said: "I haven't done anything in this book purely to be controversial. This is an academic work and I didn't just select stuff in a sensationalist way to provoke outrage.

"I've talked about these subjects before and people came up afterwards and said they enjoyed it.

"But if people want to pay £10 just to come and have a go, they can bring it on. I'm an academic and I'm used to debating with people."

And anyone who does take offence may have a long-running battle on their hands, the film studies lecturer has warned.

"This is just scratching the surface and there were so many pieces we had to turn away so I'm thinking of a second book," he said.

o Jews and Sex published by Five Leaves is being launched by the Jewish Museum next Thursday at 8pm. Authors of other essays in the anthology will also be on hand for the discussion. Tickets cost £10 and are available by calling 020-8371 7373 or by emailing admin@jewishmuseum.org.uk.

katie.davies@hamhigh.co.uk


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