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Title: Anglo-jewry and authenticity, British Jewish youth movements, informal education and the communal contestation over authentic Judaism
Author: Abramson, Sarah J.
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2010
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Abstract:
This dissertation is an exploration of the ways in which Jewish youth movements create, recreate and re-envision wider Jewish communal norms relating to authenticity, or what it means to be a `real' or `legitimate' Jew. The culmination of thirteen months participant observation fieldwork within one Jewish youth movement, as well as interviews with other youth movement leaders and archival research of one prominent British Jewish newspaper, I argue that the modem Orthodox Jewish Establishment in the United Kingdom has a strong grip on the concept of authenticity. The stakes for maintaining control over the boundary between the authentic and the inauthentic are high, as British Jewry is shrinking rapidly and education has been identified as the primary means by which to secure communal continuity. Consequently, Jewish formal education often supports particular (Orthodox) interpretations of Jewish authenticity, specifically in relation to communal pluralism, appropriate gender identifications and relationships with Zionism. However, these Orthodox expectations of authenticity are often incompatible with how many young British Jews today lead their lives. Youth movements are key sites in which the battle for continuity is being waged; British Jewish youth movements aim to create informal education agendas that inspire young people to create lifelong affiliations with Judaism. I contend that informal education has the necessary flexibility to disrupt (and thus redefine) the boundaries of Jewish authenticity. Specifically, the very pillars of Orthodox authenticity (pluralism, gender and Zionism) are beginning to be (re)- constructed in new and innovative ways by some movements. It is in this space, created through the negotiation of a movement's ethos and its simultaneous obligation to, or disregard for, communal (Orthodox) expectations, that the validation of `alternative' performances of Judaism is possible. In turn, such validation helps to associate authenticity with a fluid and context- dependent belief system that is more likely to secure communal continuity than the exclusive Orthodox system currently so predominant.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.534669  DOI: Not available
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