Publication Date: September 2008
Publisher: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Author(s): David Ellenson; Manfred Gerstenfeld
Research Area: Culture and religion
Keywords: Religious Denominations; Community Development; Jewish Identification; History
In this Interview, Rabbi David Ellenson, the eighth president of Hebrew Union College (HUC), traces the changing nature of the Jewish community from the coercive 'kehila' of the Middle Ages to the modern congregation defined by voluntary adherence. Ellenson maintains that understanding where Jewry is today and where it may go requires analyzing and understanding the process that has taken place since modernity's infancy. Ellenson contends that modernity has affected many disparate areas including, but not limited to, new forms of Judaism, opting out, and marriage. He states that this has led to assimilation but has also fostered new ways of expressing Jewish identity.