Andrea Most, scholar of American Jewish theater, attempts to explain in this article the prominence of Jews in the history of American theater and Hollywood. She does this, in part, by citing Gordon and suggesting that the “defining feature” of “the writing of modernizing Jews” was “the theatrical sense of playing a role in public.”
Suggested Activity: Ask students to read and summarize Most’s point. Ask them whether they agree that being Jewish involves “playing a role in public” and, if they agree that it does, whether Jews are, in this sense, similar to or different from Americans from other religious or ethnic backgrounds. Ask them to demonstrate, in front of the class, ways that they or other people they know have performed their Jewishness or humanness in their speech, behavior, or other actions.