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Author(s): Fidler, Wendy
Date: 2016
Abstract: This study provides an analysis of the attitudes of a minority faith in the UK, the Jews, to interfaith engagement, to the Council of Christians and Jews and other monotheistic religions. It is based on oral testimonies of interviewees who were all members of the Oxford Jewish Congregation, a unique community which has three Jewish groupings of Orthodox, Masorti and Liberal all under one roof. The objectives are to determine the influence of upbringing and life experiences on resultant interfaith attitudes, and link these with the religious denomination of the respondents. Thereafter these attitudes are considered in relation to Israel; to membership of the Council of Christian and Jews; to the attitudes of Jews entering into the sacred space of the ‘Other’ in situations of increasing intensity. Finally this thesis explores attitudes of Jews welcoming non-Jews to attending services in synagogues. The thesis firstly highlights that the participants’ attitudes towards those of other religions were dependent upon upbringing, background and life experiences, irrespective of whether these resultant attitudes were positive, ambivalent or negative. Secondly, the most significant result found was that all the respondents were involved in dialogue with the Other irrespective of whether they had positive, ambivalent or negative attitudes towards interfaith and despite which Jewish denomination they belonged to. Thirdly, with regard to Israel, each had their own view and opinion which was not dependent on religious affiliation. Fourthly, with regard to the space of the Other, there is more complexity from whether the respondents would enter a church, attend, then participate in an interfaith service held in a church, and finally if they would take part in a service in a church involving a friend or colleague. The responses were divided by the Jewish grouping of the interviewees and demonstrated a new paradigm. There were personal interfaith boundaries beyond which responders would not pass. There was no correlation between background or religious affiliation, revealing an underlying level of unpredictability within the interviewees. Fifthly, this study demonstrated that half of the Orthodox responders were engaged in interfaith activity. Anecdotally, without previous evidence, it has been assumed that Orthodox Jews were less likely to engage in interfaith work. Within this research this was not the case.
Author(s): Gerson, Jane
Date: 2008
Abstract: Kosher food is not necessarily the same as 'Jewish' food. The thesis explores ideas of Jewish identity in Britain in relation to food, examining the period from the end of austerity in the mid-1950s until the beginning of the twenty-first century. The period starts with Britain's emergence from the strictures of rationing and the development of an era of abundance and choice that has led, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, to a complex and ambivalent relationship between food and society. The thesis explores food in relation to the histories of diverse British Jewish communities and individuals deploying a range of evidence including oral histories, memoirs, journalism and cookery books. It studies the practice of Jewish identity and food, looking at Jewish communities ranging from the strictly Orthodox to progressive Jews. Theories of place, displacement and circuitry in the context of a global food economy are central to the thesis as are ideas of memory, myth and ritual. The first two chapters study the religious, political and social context of kosher food practice in Britain, analysing relations between the ecclesiastical authorities, the kosher food industry and consumers in which issues of class and gender are pivotal. Non-Jewish responses to kosher food are also examined. The third chapter interrogates the culinary origins of Ashkenazi and Sephardi food in Britain in the context of the globalization of the food industry, questioning how this affects the 'Jewishness' of specific culinary practices. The final chapter investigates the meaning and development of Jewish food rituals with respect to Sabbath and festival observance. The thesis suggests that despite the particularity of Jewish practice in relation to food, and the specific circumstances of the Diaspora, the Jewish practice of identity through food should not be treated as exceptional. The concept of 'Jewish' food is as problematic and as valid as the identification of any other group with a specific cuisine.