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The Sovereign Self: Jewish Identity in Post-Modern America

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Publication Date: May 2001

Publisher(s): Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Author(s): Arnold Eisen; Steven M. Cohen

Series: Jerusalem Letter/Viewpoints No. 453

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Cultural heritage and preservation)
Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)

Keywords: Adulthood; Jewish Continuity; Jewish Identification; Identity Formation

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


The article reports on a series of interviews conducted by the authors to assess the formation of adult Jewish identities through lifelong Jewish journeys. Strongly Jewish childhoods are a very good predictor of actively Jewish adulthoods. The authors conclude that personal journeys and experiences, especially if shared with other family members, are the stuff out of which modern American Jewish identity is constructed and enacted. Today's American Judaism is personal and constructed one experience at a time.