The Struggle for Jewish Identity in a Reform Synagogue
Publication Year: 1987
Published by: State University of New York Press
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I would like to thank the people of Temple Shalom - members, clergy, and staff - for making this study possible. Beyond that, however, I want to thank them for their hospitality, warmth, and generosity. I learned much from Temple Shalom, not only about how a synagogue structures Jewish meaning for its members, but also how its inhabitants ...
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Concern with personal identity has become a preoccupation in contemporary America. Whereas in the past the question of self-definition was thought to belong to the province of adolescence, today the quest for identity spans the life cycle. This question not only raises philosophical, existential concerns, but it addresses also the perceived ...
1. The Transformation of Jewish Identity
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Travelers from a different time and place might have a difficult time, on first blush, recognizing members of Temple Shalom as Jews. This would be the case should their perspectives be those of the Middle Ages, eighteenth-century Europe, or even contemporary Chassidic communities in New York City. They would see people who, though ...
2. Temple Shalom Setting and Reform Context
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While driving from the valley to the sea, the driver can easily spot a building hugging the land adjacent to the freeway. Temple Shalom is shaped to resemble the ancient Hebrews' tent of meeting in the Sinai wilderness. It is an impressive yet simple, stark concrete structure surrounded by neatly maintained shrubbery and a lush green hillside. ...
3. Ideology and Identity
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Groups express their beliefs, values, and attitudes in a variety of ways. A community's ideology - as these elements together might be called - serves to define social meanings for its members.1 It presents a world view - a particular reading of reality - and calls for the embrace of certain values. In doing so, an ideology serves to cultivate group ...
4. Ritual and Identity
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One of the contributions of secularization to modern society has been the devaluation of ritual. Moderns have generally experienced a loss of ritual awareness and, in fact, generally assume that ritual is useless (Sullivan 1975, 10).1 Undoubtedly, this assumption reflects the rationalistic and perhaps unimaginative mentality of moderns, that is, the ...
5. COMMUNITY AND IDENTITY
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"Community" is a rather imprecise term, insofar as it is used in various ways by different writers. Some use it as a synonym for society, social organization, or social system. Others employ it to denote biological or sociocultural concepts, such as an ethnic group or culture. Yet others stress subjective criteria, such as identification (Sjoberg 1964, 114-15). ...
6. Conclusions: The Sacralization of Identity
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Modernity places all kinds of stresses on personal and collective identity. Rapid social change, physical mobility, pluralism, relativism, and secularism conspire against the stability of people's identity. Traditionally, religion played a central role in fixing personal and group identity, since "stability, continuity and coherence [were] provided ...
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Page Count: 152
Publication Year: 1987
Series Title: SUNY series in Anthropology and Judaic Studies (discontinued)
Series Editor Byline: Walter P. Zenner