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Conceptualizing Reform Judaism in an age of Religious Pluralism

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Publication Date: January 2004

Publisher(s): Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry

Author(s): Jessica Greenbaum

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)

Keywords: American Jews; Congregations; Identity formation

Type: Report

Coverage: New York


In Contemporary Jewry 24, 82-103. This paper explores how the rabbi and teachers of the "Welcome to Judaism" class dealt with the threat of intermarriage and symbolic religiosity by responding to the needs and desires of the potential converts. The lessons taught by the rabbi and the teachers not only shaped the conversion experience, they also defined what it means to be a Reform Jew. The paper is part of a larger qualitative study on identity construction and conversion to Reform Judaism; it is based on 20 observations of a "Welcome to Judaism" class at a Reform synagogue in central New York.