Research and Publishing

Books

I am the author of two books: City of Rogues and Schnorrers: Russia’s Jews and the Myth of Old Odessa (Indiana University Press, 2011) and The Seinfeld Talmud: A Jewish Guide to a Show About Nothing (Academica Press, 2023)

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 spend their days poring over the excruciating minutiae of every single event imaginable. Seinfeld is the Jewish Talmud of a new generation.
So I 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.

Buy The Seinfeld Talmud

Old Odessa, on the Black Sea, gained notoriety as a legendary city of Jewish gangsters and swindlers, a frontier boomtown mythologized for the adventurers, criminals, and merrymakers who flocked there to seek easy wealth and lead lives of debauchery and excess. Odessa is also famed for the brand of Jewish humor brought there in the 19th century from the shtetls of Eastern Europe and that flourished throughout Soviet times. From a broad historical perspective, Jarrod Tanny examines the hybrid Judeo-Russian culture that emerged in Odessa in the 19th century and persisted through the Soviet era and beyond. The book shows how the art of eminent Soviet-era figures such as Isaac Babel, Il’ia Ilf, Evgenii Petrov, and Leonid Utesov grew out of the Odessa Russian-Jewish culture into which they were born and which shaped their lives.

Buy City of Rogues and Schnorrers

Peer Reviewed Essays

“‘I Didn’t Know There Were Epsteins in Puerto Rico:’ Jewish Ethnicity in American Comedy,” Beyond Whiteness: Revisiting Jews in Ethnic America. Edited by Jonathan Karp. An Annual Review of the Casden Institute for the Study of American Life Annual Review, Vol. 21. West  Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 2023. Download Here

‘We’re Safe Here, but Poland is a State of Mind’: Jewish Literature and the Exploitation of Holocaust Consciousness,” in Laughter After: Humor and the Holocaust. Edited by David Slucki, Avinoam Patt, and Gabriel N. Finder. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 2020. Download Here

Curb Your Orgasm: Larry David and the Schlimazel as Sexual Deviant,” Jewish Film & New Media: An International Journal 7, No. 2 (2019). (Published Fall 2020). Download Here

A Bad, Bold, Big-Nosed, Biblical Brother: Refashioning the Funny Jew in Post-World War Two America,” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 16, No. 1 (2017). Download Here 

Decoding Seinfeld’s Jewishness,” Studies in Contemporary Jewry 29, A Club of Their Own: Jewish Humorists and the Contemporary World. Edited by Eli Lederhendler and Gabriel Finder (2016). Download Here

The Anti-Gospel of Lenny, Larry, and Sarah: Jewish Humor and the Desecration of Christendom,” American Jewish History 29, No. 2 (April 2015). Download Here

Between the Borscht Belt and the Bible Belt: Crafting Southern Jewishness through Chutzpah and Humor,” Southern Jewish History 15 (2012). Download Here

Kvetching and Carousing under Communism: Old Odessa as the Soviet Union’s Jewish City of Sin,” East European Jewish Affairs 39, No. 3 (Dec. 2009). Download Here

Other Scholarly Essays

The Gonef’s Wedding,” JewTh!nk, April 5, 2021. Read Here

In My Country There Is Problem,” Jewish Review of Books (Summer 2019). Read Here

On Kanter’s Lunch: Old Jews Slurping Soup and the Fate of Jewish Humor,” Jewish Film & New Media: An International Journal (Fall, 2016): 201-206. Download Here

Mit Odessy, żydowskiego miasta grzechu,” Midrasz 4 (2014).

The Jews in the Land of the Russian Tsars, 1772-1917,” in The Blackwell History of Jews and Judaism. Edited by Alan T. Levenson (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). Download Here

The Many Ends of Old Odessa: Memories of the Gilded Age in Russia’s City of Sin,” Working Paper, Berkeley Program in Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies (2007). Download Here

Krutye Evrei, ili kak na Deribasovskaia muzyka igrala i naletchiki zashchishchali svoikh Eevreev,” Odessa i evreiskaia tsivilatsiia: Katastrofa, soprotivlenie, pobeda (Odessa: Studiia “Negotsiant,” 2006).

Dissecting the Nation: The Shifting Ethnic Boundaries of Post-Soviet Georgia,” History in the Making X: Nations, Nationalism & National Identity: Selected Proceedings of the 10th Annual History in the Making Conference March 5, 2005, Concordia University, Montreal (Montreal, Canada: Concordia University, 2005).

Book and Film Reviews

Robert Cherry, Why the Jews? How Jewish Values Transformed Twentieth Century American Pop Culture London, UK: Rowman & Littlefield, 2021 (Forthcoming in Jewish Film and New Media).

 Marat Grinberg, The Soviet Jewish Bookshelf: Jewish Culture and Identity Between the Lines in Jewish Journal, January 5, 2024. Read Here

Natan M. Meir, Stepchildren of the Shtetl: The Destitute, Disabled, and Mad of Jewish Eastern Europe, 1800-1939 in AJS Review 45, no. 2 (2021). 

“A Pickler on the Roof.” Review of Seth Rogen’s An American Pickle in JewTh!nk, August 16, 2020. Read Here 

Kirsten Fermaglich, A Rosenberg by Any Other Name: A History of Jewish Name Changing in America in The American Jewish Archives Journal 71, No. 11 (2019). (Published Summer 2020).

Anna Shternshis, When Sonia Met Boris: An Oral History of Jewish Life Under Stalin in Journal of Jewish Identities 12, no. 1 (2019).

Alexander Z. Gurwitz, A Yiddish Life in Russia and Texas in Southern Jewish History 20 (2017).

Hana Wirth-Nesher (ed.), The Cambridge History of Jewish American Literature in Review of Rabbinic Judaism 20, no. 1 (2017).

David Gillota, Ethnic Humor in Multiethnic America in Journal of American Ethnic History 35, no. 2 (Winter 2015).

Faith HillisChildren of Rus’: Right-Bank Ukraine and the Invention of a Russian Nation in The American Historical Review 119, no. 5 (December 2014).

Harriet Murav, Music from a Speeding Train: Jewish Literature in Post-Revolution Russia on H-Net (March 2012). Read Here

Eugene M. Avrutin, Jews and the Imperial State: Identification Politics in Tsarist Russia in Journal of World History (March 2012).

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, Lenin’s Jewish Question on H-Net (August, 2011). Read Here

Leonid Smilovitskii, Evrei v Turove: Istoriia mestechka Mozyrskogo Poles’ia in The Russian Review 69, no. 1 (January 2010).

Anna Makolkin, The Nineteenth Century in Odessa: One Hundred Years of Italian Culture on the Shores of the Black Sea (1794-1894) in University of Toronto Quarterly 78, no. 1 (Winter 2009). 

Suzanne Goldenberg, Pride of Small Nations: The Caucasus and Post-Soviet Disorder in Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism 26, no. 1-2 (1999).

Scroll to Top