Developmental Judaism: Challenging the Study of American Jewish Identity in the Social Sciences


Publication Date: January 2000

Publisher: Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry

Author(s): Riv-Ellen Prell

Research Area: Culture and religion

Keywords: American Jews; Religious denominations; Jewish identification

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


In Contemporary Jewry 21, 33-54. The article is based on the author's study of Conservative synagogue Jews. By laying out the diversity of models through which these Conservative Jews articulated how they construct their Jewishness, the author demonstrates the complexity of what it means to them to be Jews. Their narrative forms are an effort to understand Jewish life from the point of view of the actor, and as such to demonstrate how Jewishness is negotiated over time and within relationships. While gross and normative measures of Jewish life are critical, they are always partial without understanding the meaning participants attach to them.