Ritual, Ceremony and the Reconstruction of Judaism in the United States


Publication Date: January 1990

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Author(s): Charles S. Liebman

Research Area: Culture and religion

Keywords: American Jews; Religious denominations; Jewish identification

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


In Studies in Contemporary Jewry 6, 272-283. Observers of American Jewish life have noted a steady decline in ritual observance. Authors assume that the question of whether Jews were observing more, the same or less Jewish ritual that they had in the recent past was a critical dimension in assessing the quality of Jewish life in the United States. The author claims that this view takes insufficient account of the distinction between ceremony and ritual and that too much emphasis was given to whether a particular ritual (or ceremony) was performed and inadequate attention was paid to the context in which it was performed and, therefore, the manner in which it is understood.