Summoned: Identification And Religious Life In A Jewish Neighborhood

Paperback | March 11, 2016

byIddo Tavory

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On a typical weekday, men of the Beverly-La Brea Orthodox community wake up early, beginning their day with Talmud reading and prayer at 5:45am, before joining Los Angeles’ traffic. Those who work “Jewish jobs”—teachers, kosher supervisors, or rabbis—will stay enmeshed in the Orthodox world throughout the workday. But even for the majority of men who spend their days in the world of gentiles, religious life constantly reasserts itself. Neighborhood fixtures like  Jewish schools and synagogues are always after more involvement; evening classes and prayers pull them in; the streets themselves seem to remind them of who they are. And so the week goes, culminating as the sabbatical observances on Friday afternoon stretch into Saturday evening. Life in this community, as Iddo Tavory describes it, is palpably thick with the twin pulls of observance and sociality.

In Summoned, Tavory takes readers to the heart of the exhilarating—at times exhausting—life of the Beverly-La Brea Orthodox community. Just blocks from West Hollywood’s nightlife, the Orthodox community thrives next to the impure sights, sounds, and smells they encounter every day. But to sustain this life, as Tavory shows, is not simply a moral decision they make. To be Orthodox is to be constantly called into being. People are reminded of who they are as they are called upon by organizations, prayer quorums, the nods of strangers, whiffs of unkosher food floating through the street, or the rarer Anti-Semitic remarks. Again and again, they find themselves summoned both into social life and into their identity as Orthodox Jews. At the close of Tavory’s fascinating ethnography, we come away with a better understanding of the dynamics of social worlds, identity, interaction and self—not only in Beverly-La Brea, but in society at large.

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On a typical weekday, men of the Beverly-La Brea Orthodox community wake up early, beginning their day with Talmud reading and prayer at 5:45am, before joining Los Angeles’ traffic. Those who work “Jewish jobs”—teachers, kosher supervisors, or rabbis—will stay enmeshed in the Orthodox world throughout the workday. But even for the majo...

 Iddo Tavory is assistant professor of sociology at New York University. He is coauthor of Abductive Analysis: Theorizing Qualitative Research, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

other books by Iddo Tavory

Abductive Analysis: Theorizing Qualitative Research
Abductive Analysis: Theorizing Qualitative Research

Kobo ebook|Sep 30 2014

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.71 inPublished:March 11, 2016Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022632205X

ISBN - 13:9780226322056

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“This finely observed, beautifully crafted ethnography takes the reader into the intricate life of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community thriving in ultra-secular Los Angeles. At once witty and deeply serious, Summoned describes the moral obstacle course religious Jews face as they navigate the neighborhood, the identities and commitments evoked in everyday interactions, and the exquisite judgment required to enact religious obligations. At a deeper level, Summoned offers a new way of thinking about the interconnections among situations and anticipated situations that determine the density of summoning to which we are all subject. Masquerading as a study of an exotic sect in a lively urban neighborhood, Tavory’s analysis of how ultra-Orthodox Jews are ‘summoned’—grabbed by the world around them and reminded of who they are and what they are supposed to be doing—turns out to be not only about these fascinating groups and their strange ways, but about all of us.”