The idea that Jews are “ecophobes” is a favorite shtick of American comedy. But does it reflect the truth? This article offers an alternative reading of the Jewish cultural production in twentieth-century American literature that goes beyond the stereotypical image of the “unnatural Jew.” Principally focused on Bernard Malamud’s novel Dubin’s Lives, this article frames Malamud’s work within the context of post-war environmental thought, American Jewish literature, and Jewish environment ethics. I hope to provide an alternative vision of modern American Jewish imagination and its relation to the nonhuman environment. I argue that this relation takes shape in Jewish culture due in part to its historical context: a context marked by Diaspora and assimilation. I enlist Emmanuel Lévinas’s ethics of asymmetry and Hans Jonas’s ontological ethics to show how Judaism and Jewish philosophy can be an ally in the creation or expansion of contemporary environmental ethics. Textual or performative Jews, to whom American literature and humor have accustomed us, are finally “two with Nature” (as Woody Allen says) not because they are Jewish but, perhaps, because they are not “Jewish” enough.

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