Cosmopolitans and Parochials: Modern Orthodox Jews in America

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University of Chicago Press, Oct 11, 1989 - Religion - 248 pages
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Far from simply vanishing in the face of modernity, Orthodox Jews in the United States today are surviving and flourishing. Samuel C. Heilman and Steven M. Cohen, both distinguished scholars of Jewish studies, have joined forces in this pathbreaking book to articulate this vibrancy and to characterize the many faces of Orthodox Jewry in contemporary America. Who are these Orthodox Jews? How have they survived, what do they believe and practice and how do they accommodate the tension between traditional Jewish and modern American values? Drawing on a survey of more than one thousand participants, the authors address these questions and many more.

Heilman and Cohen reveal that American Jewish Orthodoxy is not a monolith by distinguishing its three broad varieties: the "traditionalists," the "centrists," and the "nominally" orthodox. To illuminate this full spectrum of orthodoxy the authors focus on the "centrists," taking us through the dimensions of their ritual observances, religious beliefs, community life, and their social, political, and sexual attitudes. Both parochial and cosmopolitan, orthodox and liberal, these Jews are characterized by their dualism, by their successful involvement in both the modern Western world and in traditional Jewish culture. In painting this provocative and fascinating portrait of what Jewish Orthodoxy has become in America today, Heilman and Cohen's study also sheds light on the larger picture of the persistence of religion in the modern world.

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About the author (1989)

Samuel C. Heilman, professor of sociology at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, is the author of A Walker in Jerusalem, The Gate Behind the Wall, The People of the Book, and Synagogue Life, the latter two of which are also published by the University of Chicago Press. Steven M. Cohen, professor of sociology at Queens College of the City University of New York, is the coauthor of numerous books and the author of American Assimilation or Jewish Revival?, American Modernity & Jewish Identity, and Interethnic Marriage and Friendship.

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