Rites of Passage: How Today's Jews Celebrate, Commemorate, and Commiserate

Rites of Passage: How Today's Jews Celebrate, Commemorate, and Commiserate

by Leonard J. Greenspoon


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Scholars tend to call them "rites of passage." Most people prefer to speak of them as life-cycle events or milestones. Jews like to speak of simchas; when there is something (a birth, Bar or Bat Mitzvah, or a wedding) to celebrate. These are key moments for individuals and for the families and communities of which they are a part.

This volume offers new insights into rituals as old as the Hebrew Bible and as recent as the twenty-first century, in contexts as familiar as the American Midwest and as exotic as Karaism. It examines and frequently affirms some of the rituals that have traditionally been associated with these events, while inviting readers to cast a critical eye on the ways in which these customs have developed in recent years.

The authors, who include congregational leaders as well as scholars, also affirm the need to expand or enhance existing ceremonies to include groups whose needs have not traditionally been addressed. They show how rites of passage may be viewed as both conservative and dynamic connecting us with generations past as well as with our contemporaries.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781557535771
Publisher: Purdue University Press
Publication date: 10/15/2010
Series: Studies in Jewish Civilization , #21
Pages: 197
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Leonard J. Greenspoon holds the Klutznick Chair in Jewish Civilization at Creighton University, where he also is a professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies and of theology. Prior to his tenure at Creighton, Greenspoon was a professor of religion at Clemson University. As well as editing the Studies in Jewish Civilization series, Greenspoon has coedited another four volumes and written four monographs. A prolific author, he has written over two hundred and fifty journal articles, book chapters, and major encyclopedia entries. He has made public and scholarly presentations throughout the United States and Canada as well as in Israel and many European countries. His major research interests center on Bible translations (especially Jewish versions) and religion in popular culture.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vii

Editor's Introduction ix

Contributors xvii

"What Makes a Bat Mitzvah Blossom": Pre-Bat Mitzvah Rituals for Daughters and Mothers Penina Adelman 1

More Bar Than Mitzvah: Anxieties over Bar Mitzvah Receptions in Postwar America Rachel Kranson 9

Becoming Orthodox Women: Rites of Passage in the Orthodox Community Leslie Ginsparg Klein 25

Talking about the Jewish Wedding Ritual: Issues of Gender, Power, and Social Control Irit Koren 33

The Making of a Rabbi: Semichah Ordination from Moses to Grosses Jonathan Gross 57

Perspectives on Evaluating New Jewish Rituals Vanessa Ochs 63

Memory, Questions and Definitions: Images of Old and New Rites of Passage Ori Z. Soltes 71

A Need for New Rituals? American Judaism and the Holocaust Oliver Leaman 127

Karaism: An Alternate Form of Jewish Celebration Daniel J. Lasker 141

Without a Minyan: Creating a Jewish Life in a Small Midwestern Town Daniel Mandell Barbara Smith-Mandell Jerrold Hirsch 155

Raising the Bar, Maximizing the Mitzvah: Jewish Rites of Passage for Children with Autism Steven Puzarne 187

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