Urban Origins of American Judaism by Deborah MooreUrban Origins of American Judaism by Deborah Moore

Urban Origins of American Judaism

byDeborah MooreEditorMitchell Reddish

Paperback | February 1, 2017

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The urban origins of American Judaism began with daily experiences of Jews, their responses to opportunities for social and physical mobility as well as constraints of discrimination and prejudice. Deborah Dash Moore explores Jewish participation in American cities and considers the implications of urban living for American Jews across three centuries. Looking at synagogues, streets, and snapshots, she contends that key features of American Judaism can be understood as an imaginative product grounded in urban potentials.

Jews signaled their collective urban presence through synagogue construction, which represented Judaism on the civic stage. Synagogues housed Judaism in action, its rituals, liturgies, and community, while simultaneously demonstrating how Jews Judaized other aspects of their collective life, including study, education, recreation, sociability, and politics. Synagogues expressed aesthetic aspirations and translated Jewish spiritual desires into brick and mortar. Their changing architecture reflects shifting values among American Jews.

Concentrations of Jews in cities also allowed for development of public religious practices that ranged from weekly shopping for the Sabbath to exuberant dancing in the streets with Torah scrolls on the holiday of Simhat Torah. Jewish engagement with city streets also reflected Jewish responses to Catholic religious practices that temporarily transformed streets into sacred spaces. This activity amplified an urban Jewish presence and provided vital contexts for synagogue life, as seen in the captivating photographs Moore analyzes.

DEBORAH DASH MOORE is the Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of History and director of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan.
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Title:Urban Origins of American JudaismFormat:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:February 1, 2017Publisher:University Of Georgia PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0820350575

ISBN - 13:9780820350578

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Editorial Reviews

For much of American Jewish history, Jews’ urbanism brought to mind their miserable poverty and purportedly dishonest business practices. Yet, writing at a time when urban living represents progressive and ecological values, Moore’s study expresses contemporary support for urbanism. In Urban Origins, cities are presented far less as ghettos than as centers of opportunity. . . . Although Jews living in cities prior to the mid-twentieth century did not experience urban living as a choice they determined by actively weighing pros and cons, Moore’s book recalls that cities have often been beneficial for Jews and Judaism. - Rachel Gordan - American Jewish Archives Journal