Secular Renaissance & Religious Transformation: American Jewry in the 21st Century
30 Jan 2017 - 11:00
The 21st century in the US has witnessed unanticipated social, cultural and political polarization and the Jewish community has not been immune to this trend. The once dominant "Jewish Center", epitomized by Conservative Judaism, has undergone erosion while both Jewish secularism and traditional Judaism have gained ground institutionally and demographically.
This lecture will explain why the "bell curve" has flattened and two completely different forms of Jewish identity, one existing independently of religion and the other infused by religion, are growing within the same society. A multitude of trends - intellectual, social, demographic and political - are broadening and transforming Jewish identity and identification in America. Pluralistic market forces and new information technologies provide increasing opportunities for expressions of different types of Jewishness - secular, spiritual and religious. Furthermore, Jewish cultural production and consumption operate in a mixed market with commercial, non-profit and philanthropic support. All are creating a wealth of new forms of Jewish community beyond the typical mid twentieth century-style suburban synagogue.
Barry A. Kosmin is Research Professor of Public Policy and Law and Founding Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, USA. He is a Senior Associate of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Oxford University, England and a Consultant to the JDC International Centre for Community Development.