"A welcome addition to the literature on contemporary Jewry. The series serves the needs of the intelligent layman as well as the scholar and The Hebrew University's Institute of Contemporary Jewry, which sponsors the project, can be proud of its achievement."The Jerusalem Post
Ethnicity and Beyond: Theories and Dilemmas of Jewish Group Demarcationby Eli Lederhendler
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Volume XXV of the distinguished annual Studies in Contemporary Jewry explores new understandings and approaches to Jewish "ethnicity." In current parlance regarding multicultural diversity, Jews are often considered to belong socially to the "majority," whereas "otherness" is reserved for "minorities." But these group labels and their meanings have changed over time. This volume analyzes how "ethnic," "ethnicity," and "identity" have been applied to Jews, past and present, individually and collectively. Most of the symposium papers on the ethnicity of Jewish people and the social groups they form draw heavily on the case of American Jews, while others offer wider geographical perspectives. Contributors address ex-Soviet Jews in Philadelphia, comparing them to a similar population in Tel Aviv; Communism and ethnicity; intermarriage and group blending; American Jewish dialogue; and German Jewish migration in the interwar decades. Leading academics, employing a variety of social scientific methods and historical paradigms, propose to enhance the clarity of definitions used to relate "ethnic identity" to the Jews. They point to ethnic experience in a variety of different social manifestations: language use in social context, marital behavior across generations, spatial and occupational differentiation in relation to other members of society, and new immigrant communities as sub-ethnic units within larger Jewish populations. They also ponder the relevance of individual experience and preference as compared to the weight of larger socializing factors. Taken as a whole, this work offers revisionist views on the utility of terms like "Jewish ethnicity" that were given wider scope by scholars in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s.
Meet the Author
Eli Lederhendler is Stephen S. Wise Professor of American Jewish History and Institutions at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His works include Jewish Immigrants and American Capitalism, 1880-1920: From Caste to Class and New York Jews and the Decline of Urban Ethnicity, 1950-1970. The current editors of Studies in Contemporary Jewry are Richard I. Cohen, Anat Helman, Eli Lederhendler, and Uzi Rebhun, all of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
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