Friday, July 02, 2004

Conflicting Models of Jewishness

Using my three models of Jewishness one can understand some of the tensions in the Jewish community currently (and in the recent past).
On the one hand we have the conflict between the Orthodox (who view Jewishness as a religion) & the Federation/Zionists who view Jewishness as an expression of Peoplehood. Even a group like Aish ha-Torah (a.k.a Aish), which is austensibly about Jewish Peoplehood is really about Religion.

On the other hand some of the attempts of the Federations & the Jewish Orgs to bring in young people through Jewish Culture (e.g. Jewish Music; Joshua Fellowships) are an attempt to use Jewish Culture to foster Jewish Peoplehood.

One can understand some of the conflicts about American Public Opinion as a conflict between Jewishness as Culture (e.g. Ethics/Morality) vs. Jewishness as Peoplehood (which means that you have to support the Jewish state).

Of course I am dealing with archtypes, so expressions of Jewishness often contain multiple models.

One of the highest forms of Cultural Judaism was Yiddish Literature. For those, whom Yiddish literature was not about tying together the Jewish people, it became an alternative to both Peoplehood-or-Zionism & Judaism-as-Religion. Which is one of the reasons why attempts to make Yiddish culture a knot to tie the Jewish Community often come across as forced.

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