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Vol 23 No 3 March/April 2018

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The Myth of the Cultural Jew: Culture and Law in Jewish Tradition

ISBN13: 9780190627256
Published: August 2016
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Paperback (Hardback in 2015)
Price: £14.99
Hardback edition , ISBN13 9780195373707

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A myth exists that Jews can embrace the cultural components of Judaism without appreciating the legal aspects of the Jewish tradition.

This myth suggests that law and culture are independent of one another. In reality, however, much of Jewish culture has a basis in Jewish law. Similarly, Jewish law produces Jewish culture. A cultural analysis paradigm provides a useful way of understanding the Jewish tradition as the product of both legal precepts and cultural elements.

This paradigm sees law and culture as inextricably intertwined and historically specific. This perspective also emphasizes the human element of law's composition and the role of existing power dynamics in shaping Jewish law. In light of this inevitable intersection between culture and law, The Myth of the Cultural Jew: Culture and Law in Jewish Tradition argues that Jewish culture is shallow unless it is grounded in Jewish law.

Roberta Rosenthal Kwall develops and applies a cultural analysis paradigm to the Jewish tradition that departs from the understanding of Jewish law solely as the embodiment of Divine command. Her paradigm explains why both law and culture must matter to those interested in forging meaningful Jewish identity and transmitting the tradition.

Other Jurisdictions , Israel, Middle East
Introduction—The Myth of the Cultural Jew
1. Culture, Law, and the Development of Jewish Tradition
2. Origins and Development of Jewish Law: A Top-Down View
3. The Norms of Jewish Law Observance: A Bottom-up View
4. The Birth of Jewish Denominations in Modernity and Their Divergent Views on Jewish Law
5. Foundational Conflicts: "Who is a Jew" and Sabbath Laws
6. Homosexuality
7. Women and Synagogue Ritual
8. The State of Israel's Role in Forging Jewish Law and Culture in the Post-Holocaust Era
9. Jewish Identity in the United States
10.The Lessons of Cultural Analysis