“Authentically Orthodox: A Tradition-Bound Faith in American Life” by Zev Eleff— Challenging Modern Orthodox Judaism

Eleff, Zev. “Authentically Orthodox: A Tradition-Bound Faith in American Life”, Wayne State University Press, 2020.

Challenging Modern Orthodox Judaism

Amos Lassen

In “Authentically Orthodox: A Tradition-Bound Faith in American Life”, author Zev Eleff examines and challenges the current historical paradigm in the study of Orthodox Judaism and other tradition-bound faith communities in the United States. Looking at “lived religion,” we go beyond sermons and synagogues to explore the experiences which are tempered by any number of American cultural forces. We look at Orthodox Judaism’s engagement with Jewish law, youth culture and gender, and how this branch of Judaism has been affected by its environments. Eleff uses and other previously unpublished primary sources in order to do this. 

He analyzes events retrospectively. His research is deep and his theses are argued with utmost care as he observes contemporary Jewish life. He brings to light many of the trends in Orthodoxy and in the American Jewish community pushing the study of American Orthodoxy beyond previous scholarship. The case studies  demonstrate larger trends and how much American Orthodoxy has been shaped by its ever-changing culture.

 
Using the history of American religion, Eleff explores contemporary Jewish trends and highlights often overlooked examples of ‘lived Judaism’. He contextualizes them with the broader religious landscape giving us a new and profound perspective that emphasizes the particularly American elements that we see in Modern Orthodox Judaism.

 

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