Corporeality As a Weapon: Siegmund Breibart's Embodiment of Muskeljudentum

in German Politics and Society
Author:
Matthew J. Sherman

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Ideations of corporeality are situated at the crux of "muscular Judaism" in early twentieth- century Europe. The sporting event was viewed as a battlefield for equalization. In the ideological context of Muskeljudentum, the apathy of Talmudjudentum (Talmudic Judaism) was replaced by exercise, in which the strengthening of the corporeal would rejuvenate the psychical. Jewish strongman Siegmund Breitbart capitalized on his masculine feats of strength and aesthetic appeal by creating public performances, which displayed not only militarized corporeality, but also provided a stage for the promotion of "muscular Judaism," through both symbolic and literal representations of Zionist ideology. Breitbart reappropriated masculine Jewish corporeality, embodied corporeal notions of reciprocity at the core of Muskeljudentum, and found individual agency through the militarized aesthetic and motion of his body.

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