Essen­tial Read­ings on Jew­ish Iden­ti­ties: Lifestyles & Beliefs: Analy­ses of the Per­son­al and Social Diver­si­ty of Jews by Mod­ern Scholars

Stan­ford Lyman, ed.
  • Review
By – September 28, 2012

The two dozen essays that com­prise this edit­ed vol­ume include a num­ber by well-regard­ed schol­ars includ­ing Nathan Glaz­er, Irv­ing Lewis Horowitz, Sey­mour Mar­tin Lipset and the late Stan­ford Lyman him­self. Many of them are excel­lent reviews of impor­tant issues, includ­ing stud­ies of the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion, var­i­ous aspects of the Ortho­dox com­mu­ni­ty and Black-Jew­ish rela­tions. The lat­ter two issues tend to be overem­pha­sized while there is far less atten­tion paid to the major­i­ty of Jews who are sec­u­lar, Con­ser­v­a­tive or Reform. 

Unlike many edit­ed vol­umes, this one has very lit­tle redun­dant infor­ma­tion. Many of the indi­vid­ual arti­cles are excel­lent, infor­ma­tive and unique. For exam­ple, Don­na Shai’s arti­cle on Work­ing Women/​Cloistered Men,” reviews some of the ten­sions in gen­der rela­tions in the Ortho­dox world where some wives live an extreme ver­sion of the sec­ond shift,’ since they rear chil­dren and are the main eco­nom­ic providers while their hus­bands are in full-time Rab­binic study. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the sequenc­ing of the arti­cles gives the vol­ume a dis­joint­ed qual­i­ty when read from cov­er to cov­er. For exam­ple, arti­cles on Black- Jew­ish rela­tions are scat­tered in all four sec­tions. A sim­i­lar pat­tern occurs for the arti­cles on the Ortho­dox com­mu­ni­ty. In addi­tion, there are a num­ber of arti­cles that don’t quite fit into the vol­ume, includ­ing one on white suprema­cist dis­course, anoth­er on Jew­ish and Arab Per­cep­tions of Civ­il Rights in Israel” and one on The Sig­nif­i­cance of Jew­ish­ness for Wittgenstein’s Philosophy.”

Susan M. Cham­bré, Pro­fes­sor Emeri­ta of Soci­ol­o­gy at Baruch Col­lege, stud­ies Jew­ish phil­an­thropy, social and cul­tur­al influ­ences on vol­un­teer­ing, and health advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tions. She is the author of Fight­ing for Our Lives: New York’s AIDS Com­mu­ni­ty and the Pol­i­tics of Dis­ease and edit­ed Patients, Con­sumers and Civ­il Soci­ety.

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