From Jew to Israelite: Making “Uncomfortable Communions” and the New Rhetoric's Tools for Invention

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4 Scopus citations


The question “Who is a Jew” provokes intense argument about identity. Answers to this question attempt to define what Gorenberg calls “family boundaries” and have significant consequences. Such attempts invite argument by dissociation and involve the notions of communion and the universal audience, key notions in Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca's The New Rhetoric. In this essay, I consider a heated exchange between a Black and a white Jew (Benjamin/Simon) over contested terminology and Chaïm Perelman's 1958 letter to David Ben Gurion as attempts to provide definitions of Judaism. Through careful analysis of letter correspondence, I demonstrate that arguments about identity which use dissociation may result in uncomfortable and contested communion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-212
Number of pages15
JournalArgumentation and Advocacy
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2008 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.


  • Judaism
  • Perelman
  • communion
  • dissociation
  • new rhetoric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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