Changing Jewish Identity: A Fifty Year Perspective

By Charles S. Liebman

Charles S. Liebman, December 1998

Liebman discusses the changing nature of Jewish identity, both in United States and Israel. In America, developments in the last two decades are characterized by the emergence of personal and privatized Judaism; a form of life given to sharp fluctuations and not a structure that is stable and continuous. This Judaism is constituted out of episodic and exceptional experiences rather than out of a fixed position that encourages disciplined regularity or patterned coherence. The situation in Israel is different. There are some signs of a search for greater spirituality among Israelis, young Israelis in particular, but this is not a phenomena which touches broad elements of the public nor is it always tied to a search for Jewish spirituality. In the long run, if the spiritual quest grows, it will almost inevitably take the form of a search for personal meaning within Judaism given the dominance of Judaism among all other religions in Israeli culture. But, at least for the present, personalism and individual autonomy is just as likely to lead to further disassociation with the Jewish tradition, and, even more significantly, a disassociation from any collective identity including an Israeli one.

Topic: History, Peoplehood, Jewish Identification, Spirituality, Jewish Identity, Identity, Zionism

Name of Publication: The Collected Speeches of Charles S. Liebman

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Genre: Speech

Coverage: Israel , United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Author

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Liebman, Charles S. Changing Jewish Identity: A Fifty Year Perspective. The Collected Speeches of Charles S. Liebman. Charles S. Liebman. December 1998:


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