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Author(s): Longman, Chia
Date: 2010
Abstract: In deze bijdrage wordt een synthese gebracht van de resultaten van twee socioculturele
antropologische onderzoeksprojecten in de Antwerpse joodsorthodoxe
gemeenschap die betrekking hebben op de ‘eigenheid’, ‘emancipatie’ en ‘integratie’
van vrouwen. Eerst wordt de betekenis van vrouwelijke religiositeit vanuit het
standpunt van strikt Orthodoxe, waaronder chassidische, vrouwen belicht. Terwijl in
het publieke en institutionele religieus domein mannen de paradigmatische ‘orthodoxe
jood’ zijn, is door de sacralisatie van het dagelijkse leven, de religieuze rol voor
vrouwen niet minder omvattend of belangrijk, maar vooral gesitueerd in de private en
huiselijke sfeer. Ik beargumenteer dat deze vorm van religieuze en gegenderde
eigenheid vanuit een antropologisch en gender-kritisch perspectief niet eenduidig
geïnterpreteerd kan worden in termen van ‘onderdrukking’ dan wel ‘emancipatie’. Het
tweede onderzoeksproject behandelt de problematiek van joodsorthodoxe vrouwen
(gaande van strikt tot modern orthodox) in Antwerpen die religieuze gendernormen
overschrijden door te studeren of werken in de omliggende seculiere maatschappij. De
levensverhalen onthullen zeer verschillende trajecten van vrouwen die de ontmoeting
met de ‘buitenwereld’ dikwijls verrijkend vonden maar ook wel interculturele
conflicten ervoeren. Er wordt besloten dat behoud van culturele eigenheid, naast
emancipatie en integratie van binnen uit de joodsorthodoxe gemeenschap niet
onmogelijk is, maar dat dit minimaal wederzijds dialoog en begrip vereist.

Author(s): Hofman, Nila Ginger
Date: 2000
Abstract: My dissertation addresses the sociocultural processes which contribute to the construction of ethnocultural identity among Zagrebian Jews. I argue, contrary to the often essentialized perception of Jewish identity imposed by e.g. the Croatian government and Jewish international organizations, that Jewish identity in Zagreb is actively chosen in ways that are both idiosyncratic and contingent upon the surrounding sociocultural environment. At the heart of my argument is an appeal to the dynamic and contextual nature of identity negotiation, and the influence this has on the maintenance and survival of the Zagrebian Jewish community. In support of this, I have employed ethnographic methods to assess (i) the ways in which Jewish identity is negotiated by community members and (ii) the ways in which the meaning of Jewish community is sustained in Zagreb. With regards to (i), I conclude that Zagrebian Jews understand their identities in terms of symbolic ethnoreligiosity, i.e. in terms of feelings and nostalgic ideas about Jewish culture and tradition. With regards to (ii), I show that the history and development of Jewish identity in Zagreb can be traced through patterns of membership participation in various Jewish organizations prevalent in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These patterns reveal the predominantly secular nature of the Zagrebian Jewish community. In light of this, I argue that community for Zagrebian Jews is ultimately defined symbolically through various types of social interaction among members. It is for this reason that the recent attempts of both international Jewish organizations and the Croatian government to impose an essentialized image of Jewish identity on the community are at odds with, and ultimately destructive to, the secular and improvisatory self-images of the members themselves.
Translated Title: On secular Jews in France
Author(s): Kuczynski, Liliane
Date: 1993
Abstract: Pour ceux qui définissent le judaïsme, à l'instar du modèle chrétien, comme une religion, parler de « Juifs laïcs » relève du non-sens, voire de la provocation. Pourtant l'histoire religieuse est coutumière de tels franchissements de frontières : ne parle-t-on pas de « christianisme profane » ? de « religion laïque » ? Preuves, s'il en est encore besoin, que toute définition univoque est incapable de décrire une réalité humaine. Une autre contestation vient, elle, des milieux juifs défenseurs de la Halakha : les Juifs laïcs seraient des hors-la-loi, au mieux des brebis égarées.

Mais les faits sont là, qui résistent à toute prescription normative. Ceux que j'ai contactés pour réaliser cette étude m'ont souvent répondu être « l'homme (ou la femme) de la situation ! ». Ces termes parlent. S'y reconnaissent ou acceptent volontiers d'être définis comme tels, ceux pour lesquels être juif ne passe pas – ou plus, ou pas uniquement – par une expérience ou une pratique religieuse, au sens étroit. « Juifs non pratiquants » alors, comme l'on parle de « catholiques non pratiquants », gardant mémoire de leur éducation chrétienne et demeurant fidèles à certaines valeurs morales qui lui seraient attachées ? Cette synonymie, qui conserve un lien avec le seul domaine religieux, est trop restrictive. Se définir « juif laïc » connote un attachement actif ou nostalgique à des langues (le yiddish, le judéo-espagnol, l'hébreu...), à des cuisines, à des terres d'origine (l'Alsace, la Pologne, l'Egypte...), à des littératures, à des histoires nationales ou intimes : bref, à des pans différents selon chacun, de ce qui est constitutif des cultures juives. Sans aucun doute faut-il, dès l'abord, ajouter à cette définition plurielle son ombre portée : les recherches personnelles, les questions, les tâtonnements les efforts de mémoire et d'invention qu'elle suscite.
Date: 2017
Abstract: This study, which was produced by JPR on behalf of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, takes an in-depth statistical look at synagogue membership figures in the UK. Synagogue membership data have been gathered and analysed consistently over several decades, and constitute the best measure of Jewish communal affiliation in the UK that exists. They provide the only consistent indicator of patterns of Jewish affiliation and belonging over time, and are thus of particular interest to community leaders and planners.

The report, authored by JPR researchers Dr Donatella Casale Mashiah and Dr Jonathan Boyd, finds that despite the fact that there are now 454 synagogues in the UK – the largest number ever recorded – synagogue membership numbers have dropped below 80,000 households for the first time since records began. Indeed, there has been a 20% decline over a quarter of a century, and a 4% decline since the last such report was published in 2010.

However, the overall decline masks important developments at a denominational level. Critically, the sector that has declined most sharply is central Orthodoxy – broadly understood as the United Synagogue, the Federation and various independent modern Orthodox synagogues dotted around the country – which collectively have seen a 37% drop since 1990. This decline is partly due to disaffection, but it has also been driven considerably by natural decrease – more members dying than being born.

In contrast, membership of strictly Orthodox synagogues is growing. Indeed, it has grown dramatically over time – by 139% since 1990. A generation ago, the strictly Orthodox comprised 4.5% of all synagogue members households; today they comprise 13.5%. This growth is driven almost exclusively by demographic forces – particularly, high birth rates in this sector of the community.

Taken as a whole, Liberal, Reform and Masorti figures have been fairly stable over time. Liberal and Reform have both declined slightly since 1990, whereas Masorti has grown, albeit from a lower base. But this overall picture of stability is somewhat misleading: in reality, Liberal and Reform synagogues are both losing members at a similar rate to the central Orthodox ones, but unlike those central Orthodox ones, they are also attracting members from their religious ‘right’ to offset those losses.
Date: 2016
Abstract: Following the unprecedented number of antisemitic incidents in the summer
of 20141, the Scottish Government funded the Scottish Council of Jewish
Communities (SCoJeC) to carry out a small-scale inquiry into ‘What’s changed
about being Jewish in Scotland’ since our 2012 inquiry into the experience of
‘Being Jewish in Scotland’.
Our principal findings were:
- 38 respondents to our survey (32%) explicitly talked about a
heightened level of anxiety, discomfort, or vulnerability, despite not
having been directly asked.
- 20 respondents (17%) – many more than in 2012 – told us that they
now keep their Jewish identity secret.
- As a result there is less opportunity for Jewish people to develop
resilient and supportive networks and communities.
- 76% of respondents said that events in the Middle East have a
significant impact on the way they are treated as Jews in Scotland.
- 80% of respondents said that the events in the Middle East during
summer 2014 had negatively affected their experience of being
Jewish in Scotland.
- 21 respondents (18%) mentioned the raising of Palestinian flags
by some Local Authorities as having contributed to their general
sense of unease.
- 16 respondents (13%) told us that they no longer have confidence in
the impartiality of public authorities, including the police.
- Several respondents said that, for the first time, they were
considering leaving Scotland.
- Antisemitism in social media was a much greater concern than in
our 2012 inquiry.
- 12 respondents (11%) told us they found it difficult to find anything
good to say about being Jewish in Scotland.
Commenting on the preliminary findings of our inquiry into What’s Changed About
Being Jewish in Scotland, Neil Hastie, head of the Scottish Government Community
Safety Unit, said: “The emerging themes from this report are particularly valuable;
as is the data on how the international context can impact very palpably on the
experience of being Jewish in Scotland. There is much in this for us (and Ministers)
to consider.”
We are disturbed by the extent to which this inquiry shows that Jewish people’s
experience in Scotland has deteriorated as a result of the wider community’s
attitudes towards events in the Middle East. But despite the negativity and level
of discomfort expressed by many respondents, and the fact that some are, for
the first time, wondering whether they should leave Scotland, the vast majority of
Scottish Jews are here to stay, and we therefore welcome the Scottish Government’s
willingness to listen to the concerns of Jewish people in Scotland to ensure their
safety and well-being

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