State University of New York Press

SUNY series in Anthropology and Judaic Studies (discontinued)

Walter P. Zenner

Published by: State University of New York Press

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SUNY series in Anthropology and Judaic Studies (discontinued)

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Ashkenazi Jews in Mexico

Ideologies in the Structuring of a Community

An account of the life of the Ashkenazi Jews in Mexico in this century highlights the intersection of cultural and political international problems, shedding light on the contemporary condition of minorities the world over. In a century full of social dreams and abhorrent calamities, the survival of a small cultural ethnic group is no small story. Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews arrived in Mexico in the early years of this century. The vast majority of these 40,000 Jews live in Mexico City and have done so for most of the eighty years of this communal experiment. Arriving with few resources, the Ashkenazi created a network of organizations to sustain their cultural survival in a country that had its own complex cultural context. This community chose its own survival path; while successful in confronting some issues, it faced problems of identity and social cohesion that mirror contemporary dilemmas everywhere. The author examines the particular exchanges that took place between minority and majority, and reflects on the challenges for multicultural living shaped by pluralism, democracy, and socio-political tolerance.

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Beyond Yiddishkeit

The Struggle for Jewish Identity in a Reform Synagogue

“Beyond Yiddishkeit deals in an intelligent and perceptive way with the issue of Jewish identity in an affluent and highly educated suburban community. Particularly significant is that it relies upon participant observation, as well as ethnographic interview techniques and data, on the part of the author. In this way, the work constitutes the first major study of this type conducted within the liberal Jewish American community. As such, it is a “pioneering” work. Equally impressive is the author’s command of the sociological literature on issues of identity and her ability to apply it to the data gathered in this study. She makes sociological jargon intelligible and presents an easily-read and well-constructed book. Her ability throughout the work to focus on issues of modernity is insightful and brilliant. I found myself racing through the book and, indeed, read it in one sitting. This really is an unparalleled work in this field.” — David Ellenson, Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion

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Communal Webs

Communication and Culture in Contemporary Israel

This book brings together insights derived from a detailed exploration of Israeli cultural patterns of communication, highlighting their role in the processes of culture formation, maintenance, and change. Katriel’s ethnographic examples provide a richly-textured account of Israeli cultural experience, illustrating the potential of a cultural analysis grounded in the study of ideologically-informed communicative practices.

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Grasping Land

Space and Place in Contemporary Israeli Discourse and Experience

Examines the discourses and experiences associated with space and place in contemporary Israel. This volume explores various processes associated with constructing what has variously been called “The Holy Land,” “Eretz Israel,” “Zion,” Palestine,” or “Israel.” The contributors focus on ways the landscapes of Israel figure in creating and recreating the identity, presence, and history of groups living there. The book critiques the assumptions lying at the base of various spatial practices related to Zionism. It does this through both a theoretical examination and a focus on hitherto little explored phenomena such as pilgrimages of Israelis to their (or their relatives’) native lands abroad, the establishment of Jewish saints’ tombs in Israel, the design of Kibbutz museums, country hikes, and conceptions of territory in mixed (Jewish-Arab) communities.

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Judaism Viewed from Within and from Without

Anthropological Studies

Judaism Viewed from Within and from Without presents three themes. The first applies anthropological analyses to classic textual material in Judaism, the second presents studies of different expressions of Jewish life in America, while the third portrays varieties of Judaism among different cultural groups in contemporary Israel.

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Let Shepherding Endure

Applied Anthropology and the Preservation of a Cultural Tradition in Israel and the Middle East

Examining the crucial problems confronting present-day livestock breeders, principally Bedouin and Jews in Israel, but also pastoral nomads in neighboring Middle Eastern countries, Let Shepherding Endure proposes new ways for these governments to enhance and sustain the long-term future development of shepherding communities. Adopting a broad historical and anthropological perspective on the topic, and assessing various pastoral relief programs, Kressel proposes an alternative program whereby the region’s states would promote a brand of pastoralism that preserves rangeland herding while keeping in step with the contemporary cultural and political context. This truly visionary set of recommendations would have several dividends, especially for the Bedouin: their cultural legacy, in danger of obsolescence, would be preserved while at the same time enhancing both their pastoral skills and ability to secure a livelihood from herding.

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Managing Change in Old Age

The Control of Meaning in an Institutional Setting

This book is an ethnographic study of an old age home in Israel that sheds light on the existential experience of elderly retirees. Hazan looks carefully at the universal concerns of old age, specifically examining the nature of everyday life in the institutional setting. He shows the workings of the micropolitics of control in an old age home and the tension between controlling dwindling resources and sustaining life-long meaning for residents. He also effectively brings out distinctive features of the Israeli situation, its cultural and bureaucratic codes. Hazan’s study of the life cycle, based in the anthropology of process, is a senstive portrayal of the dynamics of institutionalized elderly in a complex society.

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New Horizons in Sephardic Studies

This book contains the most recent research in the intrinsically interdisciplinary field of Sephardic Studies. It provides new insights into Sephardic history, culture, folklore, languages, music, and literature from both new and established international scholars.

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New World Hasidim

Ethnographic Studies of Hasidic Jews in America

A collection of essays that examines the culture, politics, and social structure of Hasidic Jewish life. Hasidim has long been the subject of historical, philosophical, and literary accounts, but it is only in recent years that it has begun to attract the close attention of social scientists. This book highlights contemporary ethnographic perspectives that convey the richness and complexity of Hasidic life. Political engagement, gender roles, ritual life, proselytizing activities, and community revitalization are just some of the topics covered in this study that casts light on one of the more enigmatic religious communities of contemporary America.

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Non-Jewish Origins of the Sephardic Jews, The

The author uses linguistic, ethnographic, and historical evidence to support his theory that the origins of Sephardic Jews are predominantly Berber and Arab.

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