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The Myth of the Cultural JewCulture and Law in Jewish Tradition$
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Roberta Rosenthal Kwall

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780195373707

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195373707.001.0001

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Jewish Identity in the United States

Jewish Identity in the United States

(p.253) 9 Jewish Identity in the United States
The Myth of the Cultural Jew

Roberta Rosenthal Kwall

Oxford University Press

Chapter 9 examines ways of forging Jewish identity in the Diaspora, particularly in the United States where the majority of Jews outside of Israel live. Historically, much of what makes Jewish culture “Jewish” has a basis in the halakhah, even if that basis is not recognized by most American Jews. To the extent these Jews have become increasingly incapable of recognizing the halakhic roots of Jewish culture, the Jewish content of American-Jewish culture is becoming less visible. This chapter explores recent empirical evidence such as the 2013 Pew Report concerning the construction of Jewish identity in the United States. It also discusses certain ideological markers of Jewish identity such as the Jewish Federation system, Israel, anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, and Jewish liberalism. This chapter concludes with an examination of current social forces that militate against a more expansive role for halakhah in shaping the Jewish identity of the majority of American Jews, particularly among the millennial generation.

Keywords:   Diaspora, Jewish Federations, Israel, anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, Jewish liberalism, the Pew Report, Jewish culture, American Jewish identity, millennial generation

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