Monday, May 14, 2018
Returning to Tradition: The Contemporary Revival of Orthodox Judaism Hardcover by M. Herbert Danzger (Yale University Press)
In recent years, numbers of young American and Israeli Jews raised in nonreligious families have chosen to become practicing Orthodox Jews, eating only food that is kosher, abstaining from all work on the Sabbath, and observing laws of family purity that require periodic sexual abstinence for husband and wife and modesty in dress and behavior.
This comprehensive study of the revival of Orthodox Judaism was written by M. Herbert Danzger, a sociologist who is also a part of the world of Orthodox Judaism. Danzger interviewed more than two hundred newly Orthodox Jews, their rabbis, teachers, and recruiters, and spent hundreds of hours in yeshivot (seminaries) and at outreach programs in both countries. With these rich data, he presents colorful portraits of both men and women; Israelis and Americans; that reveal why they became Orthodox Jews, how Orthodoxy was brought to their attention, how they were socialized into their new commitment, and what sort of life they entered, with what rewards and what costs. Danzger also focuses on how Orthodox Judaism is being reshaped by its unprecedented attempt to reach out to those who want to learn about it, and he examines its outreach efforts, its organizational structures and recruitment techniques, and its struggle to articulate beliefs and justify accepted practices. His book is thus not only a description of the movement to return to Orthodoxy but also a reflection on contemporary Orthodoxy from the perspective of this movement.