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The religious landscape of contemporary American Judaism is highly diverse, ranging from idiosyncratic efforts to create spiritual niches for individual needs to claims by a reinvigorated Orthodoxy to shape growing communities and the lives of their members. In between, other traditional expressions of Judaism, the liberal denominations, struggle, more or less successfully, to retain their particular religious ideologies as a basis for their institutional structures. – The seminar offers a survey of the contemporary landscape of religious Judaism in the US, tracing the developments leading up to the current moment in American Jewish history and developments in American society at large.
Readings: Jack Wertheimer’s The New American Judaism: How Jews Practice Their Religion Today will be our primary reading, complemented by other texts on specific subjects.
Credit requirements: Active participation based on the readings; a brief introduction to one week’s readings with questions guiding our discussions; a paper of ab. 20,000 characters, analyzing an additional sources and reflecting on a topic related to the class.
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