Volume 13, 2008 : Between Tradition and Modernity : The Plurality of Jewish Customs and Rituals

An Introduction
Between Tradition and Modernity:
The Plurality of Jewish Customs and Rituals

Ana Prashizky & Larissa Remennick

The current issue of "Sociological Papers" aims to reflect a diversity of contemporary traditions, rituals and cultural expressions among various Jewish groups, sectors and edot (i.e. ethnic origin communities). The articles in this volume refer to four central social intersections that typify contemporary Israeli society, as well as sociological and anthropological discourses of today:
1. Tradition and modernity, coming to the fore in performance of traditional Jewish rituals and their changes in contemporary contexts and settings.
2. Gender perspective, such as the division of roles between men and women in various ritual contexts.
3. Ethnic divisions, i.e. the relations between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews, ethnic categorizations generally and customs of different ethnic groups specifically.
4. Cultural contest between religious and secular sectors in Israel, the emerging Jewish renewal movement, and the performance of alternative rituals as a result of this conflict.
These four analytical perspectives are closely intertwined in social reality drawing on complex historic and cultural associations. To cite Israeli anthropologist Hazan (1992: 90), rituals are “…an essence of social and cultural existence, multicolored and concentrated prism exposing a panorama of relations, beliefs and connections”.
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