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

Hardcover | March 5, 2015

byRoberta Rosenthal Kwall

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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 alsoemphasizes 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 Jewishtradition 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.

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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 a...

Roberta Rosenthal Kwall is the Raymond P. Niro Professor of Law at DePaul University College of Law. Prior to teaching at DePaul, she practiced law at Sidley and Austin in Chicago and served as a judicial clerk for Judge Leonard I. Garth, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. Kwall earned her law degree from the University of Penn...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9.29 × 6.3 × 0.98 inPublished:March 5, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195373707

ISBN - 13:9780195373707

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction - The Myth of the Cultural Jew1. Culture, Law, and the Development of Jewish Tradition2. Origins and Development of Jewish Law: A Top-Down View3. The Norms of Jewish Law Observance: A Bottom-up View4. The Birth of Jewish Denominations in Modernity and Their Divergent Views on Jewish Law5. Foundational Conflicts: "Who is a Jew" and Sabbath Laws6. Homosexuality7. Women and Synagogue Ritual8. The State of Israel's Role in Forging Jewish Law and Culture in the Post-Holocaust Era9. Jewish Identity in the United States10. The Lessons of Cultural AnalysisIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Kwall presents a drastic shift in the way we discuss Jewish continuity, calling her new paradigm 'cultural analysis,' a methodology which views law and culture as mutually influential and historically inseparable. Through this analytical lens, Kwall brings a fresh perspective to the questionsthat for generations have plagued those committed to Jewish survival." --Avidan Halivni, New Voices