Jewish Identity in the U.S. and Israel

By Charles S. Liebman

Central European University Press, October 2003

Strong Jewish identity, for the purposes of this paper, is understood to be an effort to express the Judaic tradition in one's own life, a strong sense of attachment to the Jewish people and a concern for its welfare. The author writes that observance of Jewish law (religion) and commitment to the Jewish people (ethnicity) are correlated and this correlation is especially true of those who are strongly observant of Jewish ritual. The author moves from these claims to construct an exploration of comparative trends in Jewish identity in the United States and Israel, focusing upon the nature of ethnic and religious boundaries, who sets them and how they change; the relationship between ethnicity and religion and what influences how ethnic and religious minorities relate to the State of Israel and wider society. Liebman argues that a commitment to liberalism has remained central to American Jewish identity encouraging a personalization of religion that has also impacted Israeli society. The immediate consequence for American Jewry has been a radical decline in ethnic commitments and in the importance of a systematic observance of mandated Jewish rituals, but he also discusses the important factors in maintaining a high level of Jewish identity among Israeli Jews.

Topic: Liberalism, Continuity, Ritual, Peoplehood, Diaspora, Ethnicity, Data, Jewish Continuity, Identity

Name of Publication: New Jewish Identities: Contemporary Europe and Beyond

Editor: Gitelman, Zvi , Kossman, Barry , Kovacs, Andras

Page Number(s): 291-316

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Genre: Book Chapter

Coverage: Israel , United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Author

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Liebman, Charles S. Jewish Identity in the U.S. and Israel. New Jewish Identities: Contemporary Europe and Beyond. Central European University Press. October 2003: 291-316.


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