Contemporary Jewish demography, society, and culture

Secularization and its discontents

Authored by: Ellen LeVee

The Routledge Companion to Jewish History and Historiography

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138193611
eBook ISBN: 9780429458927
Adobe ISBN:


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Am Yisroel Chai! The people of Israel live. Is this merely a chauvinistic declaration of Jewish peoplehood? Perhaps, but it surely reflects the difficulties of survival encountered by Jews throughout their history and hints at a concern over continuity that is perennial. This concern evokes another question. Have Jews survived due to sheer human effort or because of the miraculous intervention of supernatural power? For some it may be one or the other, but it can also be both. In fact, the song was created by a religious figure, Shlomo Carlebach, in the secular fight for Soviet Jewry, thereby epitomizing the interconnection between secularity and religion, between human effort and the turn to the supernatural, which abounds in contemporary Jewry’s struggles to survive. This essay explores the mixing of secularity with religion in Jewish life from three distinct perspectives: the demographic, the social, and the cultural.

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