Judaism in America

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Columbia University Press, 2003 - History - 234 pages
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Jews have been a religious and cultural presence in America since the colonial era, and the community of Jews in the United States today -- some six million people -- continues to make a significant contribution to the American religious landscape. Emphasizing developments in American Judaism in the last quarter century among active participants in Jewish worship, this book provides both a look back into the 350-year history of Judaic life and a well-crafted portrait of a multifaceted tradition today. Combining extensive research into synagogue archival records and secondary sources as well as interviews and observations of worship services at more than a hundred Jewish congregations across the country, Raphael's study distinguishes itself as both a history of the Judaic tradition and a witness to the vitality and variety of contemporary American Judaic life. Beginning with a chapter on beliefs, festivals, and life-cycle events, both traditional and non-traditional, and an explanation of the enormous variation in practice, Raphael then explores Jewish history in America, from the arrival of the first Jews to the present, highlighting the emergence and development of the four branches: Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Reform. After documenting the considerable variety among the branches, the book addresses issues of some controversy, notably spirituality, conversion, homosexuality, Jewish education, synagogue architecture, and the relationship to Israel. Raphael turns next to a discussion of eight American Jews whose thoughts and/or activities made a huge impact on American Judaism. The final chapter focuses on the return to tradition in every branch of Judaism and examines prospects for the future.

  

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Judaism in America

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A fine contribution to the "Columbia Contemporary American Religion" series, Raphael's book is an apt portrait of contemporary Judaism in America. A rabbi and professor of Judaic studies (Coll. of ... Read full review

Contents

CHAPTER
13
CHAPTER THREE
39
CHAPTER FOUR
75
CHAPTER FIVE
97
CHAPTER
115
CHAPTER SEVEN
135
CHAPTER EIGHT
153
Notes
199
Electronic Resources
217
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Edward D. berkowitz is professor of history and public policy and public administration at George Washington University. He is the author of eight books and the editor of three collections. During the seventies he served as a staff member of the President's Commission for a National Agenda, helping President Carter plan for a second term that never came to be.

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