The Seinfeld Talmud: A Jewish Guide To A Show About Nothing


Tanny, Jarrod


Jarrod Tanny is Associate Professor of History and the Charles and Hannah Block Distinguished Scholar in Jewish History at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Born in Montreal, Canada, Tanny lived and breathed Seinfeld and Jewish humor long before making it part of his teaching and writing career. Having received his Ph.D. in Russian and Jewish History at the University of California at Berkeley, he embraced his East European Jewish ancestry and wrote a book called City of Rogues and Schnorrers, which examines how the city of Odessa, in today’s Ukraine, was mythologized as a Jewish “city of sin,” celebrated and vilified for its Jewish gangsters, pimps, bawdy musicians, and comedians. Odessa’s “Jewish” comedy drew him further into humor studies and he has published numerous essays on comedy and original satires. The Seinfeld Talmud combines Tanny’s love of Seinfeld with his knowledge of Jewish history and culture presented through the lens of parody. Had Seinfeld aired 1,500 years ago in the Middle East, the great rabbis of antiquity would not only have embraced the show, but would have made it a foundation of Judaic Law.

Are there degrees of coincidence? Is it poor hygiene to “double dip” a chip? Is it appropriate to say “God bless you” to a woman who sneezes if her husband does not? If you named a kid Rasputin, do you think that would have a negative effect on his life? For nine seasons, the Seinfeld gang engaged in argument and debate over such weighty matters of etiquette, leaving no stone unturned, no double-dipped chip ignored, no exposed nipple on a greeting card unexamined. But Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer were hardly the first to do this. In fact, they built their comedy around the sort of discussions we can find in the greatest collection of texts in the Jewish religion: The Babylonian Talmud. Like the eminent Rabbis of ancient Israel and Babylon, the Seinfeld gang spent their days poring over the excruciating minutiae of every single event imaginable. Seinfeldis the Jewish Talmud of a new generation. Thus does Jarrod Tanny bring you the The Seinfeld Talmud – Seinfeld as analyzed by the Sages of the Near East who gave us the illustrious Talmud, which, depending on whom you ask, is either the most comprehensive body of Jewish law ever produced or thousands of pages about nothing. This parodic take on Seinfeld through the lens of Jewishness will appeal to Seinfeld aficionados and anyone interested in the remarkable role Jewish culture has played in shaping American entertainment. Come join the masters of Judaic Law on their quest to master Seinfeld's domain.

Religion, Jewish Studies, Philosophy, Arts and Entertainment, Media Studies, Ethnic Studies, Identity Politics, Talmud, Seinfeld, Comedy
Release Date: 
June 20, 2023
9781680536232 Hardcover
Trim Size: 

1727 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 507
Washington, DC 20036