A People Divided: Judaism in Contemporary America

Jack Wertheimer, Author Basic Books $25 (267p) ISBN 978-0-465-00165-1
American Jewry has become increasingly polarized, asserts Wertheimer. In his estimation, current dynamic programs for religious revival are the creations of a vocal, passionately involved minority, while for the vast majority of American Jews, religion plays a minimal role. In this searching inquiry, the author, a history professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan, looks at various innovations, from the Havurah movement, which has stressed gender equality, prayer services and intimate communal experiences, to Jewish feminism and reconstructivist congregations. Nor are the more established sectors exempt from change. At the same time that Wertheimer ( Unwelcome Strangers ) finds an eclectic openness to traditional teachings in Reform Judaism, he also notes a shift to the right among the Orthodox and deep splits in a Conservative community. This is a tough-minded corrective to more optimistic recent surveys. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Religion
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-465-05464-0
Paperback - 287 pages - 978-0-87451-848-1
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