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104 SHOFAR Nonetheless, if these two groups provided the main impetus for Britain's decision to withdraw, the contribution of the Haganah should not be underrated. While the author cuts off his discussion in the fall of 1947, from then on, as the fighting against the British fell off and operations shifted more and more against Arab forces, soon operating in company, battalion, and even regimental formations, the Haganah came into its own, and without it the War of Liberation could not have been won. In conclusion, then, this book delivers what the title promises. It is strong in its evaluation of the British counter-insurgency effort, though somewhat weaker on the Jewish side where the author relies entirely on works translated into English and also seems to overestimate the influence of Jewish opinion on American policymakers. Happily, this study is free of the special pleadings and advocacy which so often mar works on the subject, and if, on occasion, the opinions cited are uncomfortable for the Jewish reader, it must be remembered that within the context of the time even a great Englishman such as Winston Churchill referred to the Jewish underground fighters as "brigands and bandits." Moreover, the reader should remember the statement already cited above, that the Jewish insurgents represented the "highest quality" of opponents the British army faced in the post-war period. Gunther Rothenberg Department of History Purdue University Prayer and Community: The Havurah in American Judaism, by Riv-Ellen Prell. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1989. 335 pp. $37.50. Strange as it may1seem, given the plethora of books about American Jews and Judaism, we know next to nothing about the faith American Jews hold or what enables them to hold it. The number of times they go to shul, the percentage that observes dietary laws, their attitudes concerning Israel and antisemitism: on these subjects the data are plentiful. But as Riv-Ellen Prell notes correctly, researchers to date have "paid little attention to how religious experience is constituted." Her attempt to fill part of that gap with this anthropological account ora havurah-style minyan meeting in Los Angeles in the early 'seventies is most welcome, therefore. Prell's work takes its place among a small but growing literature devoted to the inner life of American Jews-in this case to the construction and authentication of contemporary Jewish identity through the "performance" ofJewish prayer. Prell's contribution is two-fold. First, she has culled from her participant -observation and interview schedules a rich set of quotations which VoLume 9. No.1 FaLL 1990 105 confirm the portrait of havurah Judaism offered by previous scholarship and personal contact with the movement. The language of the 'sixties is pronounced , the tension between tradition and "expressive individualism" acute, the ambivalence towards hierarchy and organization at the heart of the movement's travails. Members of the "Kelton Minyan" came together weekly to pray despite their difficulties with the act of prayer and their lack of clarity on just who or what they hoped would hear their prayer. They stayed together despite such difficulties because their gatherings offered a depth of experience, a sense of community and authenticity, a precious piece of continuity with past and future. Prell shows nicely how their tinkering with the aesthetics of the synagogue enabled them to reject the models of their parents without abandoning Jewish commitment itself. The core of the book is devoted to the origins of the prayer group, the structure of its prayer service, and two "crises" which threatened to break the group apart: one over discomfort with the act of prayer, the other over the relative "invisibility" of the group's female members. The account is convincing, at times even suspenseful . Prell transmits to the reader the affection which she developed for her subjects. We want the group to make it. The book's second contribution is a careful reading of the immense theoretical literature (particularly anthropological) on religious ritual, and its use to supplement primarily sociological accounts of the context in which modern Jewish religious activity occurs. Prell moves back and forth gracefully from her data to theory-Douglas and Turner are here, along with Tambiah, Geertz, and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 104-106
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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