Jewish identity, denomination and denominational mobility

Harriet Hartman, Moshe Hartman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper explores religions and ethnic components of American Jewish identity, in both public and private dimensions. In the first part of the paper, we study how nine aspects of Jewish identity vary among the three main American Jewish denominations; we then explain how much of this variation is related to the background factors of Jewish education and denomination. Finally, we consider the effect of the extensive mobility that is found between denomination raised and current denomination, and discuss its implications for the individual who moves between denominations as well as for the denominations as a whole. We show that movers from more traditional to less traditional denominations retain an influence of their previous denomination; while movers from less traditional to more traditional denominations exhibit a 'rededication' effect which gives them a stronger Jewish identity than those raised and staying in the denomination. As a result, the current patterns of interdenominational mobility result in a strengthening of Jewish identity in each denomination, and therefore among American Jews as a whole. Further, differences between the denominations are mitigated by this mobility. However, the effect may be short-lived, because according to current mobility trends, the numbers of those with stronger Jewish identity are dwindling. The analysis is based on data from the New York Jewish Population Study conducted in 1991.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-311
Number of pages33
JournalSocial Identities
Volume5
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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