Secular Jewish Culture

Secular Jewish Culture

Jewish culture is the international culture of the Jewish people. Since the early 19th century the international community of Jewish people has been considered an ethnoreligious rather than solely a religious grouping. Judaism guides its adherents in both practice and belief, so that it has been called not only a religion, but an orthopraxy. Hence no clear distinction exists between the cultural contributions of Jews as opposed to aspects of culture that are specifically Jewish. Furthermore, not all individuals or all cultural phenomena can be classified as either "secular" or "religious", a distinction native to Enlightenment thinking.

Jewish culture in its etymological meaning retains the linkage to the land of origin, the people named for the Kingdom of Judah, study of Jewish texts, practice of community charity, and Jewish history. The term "secular Jewish culture" therefore refers to many aspects, including: Religion and World View, Literature, Media, and Cinema, Art and Architecture, Cuisine and Traditional Dress, attitudes to Gender, Marriage, and Family, Social Customs and Lifestyles, Music and Dance. "Secular Judaism," is a distinct phenomenon related to Jewish secularization - a historical process of divesting all of these elements of culture from their religious beliefs and practices.

Secular Judaism, derived from philosophy of Moses Mendelssohn, arose out of the Haskalah, or Jewish Enlightenment, which was itself driven by the values of the Enlightenment. The history of Jewish secularization was an under-studied subject until late-20th century. In recent years, however, it has become its own academic field of study, encompassing Jewish Studies, History, Literature, Sociology, and Linguistics. Historian David Biale has traced the roots of Jewish secularism back to the pre-modern era. He, and other scholars highlight the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza, who was dubbed "the renegade Jew who gave us modernity" by scholar and novelist Rebecca Newberger Goldstein in an intellectual biography of him. Today, the subject of Jewish secularization is taught, and researched, at many North American and Israeli universities, including Harvard, Tel Aviv University, UCLA, Temple University and City University of New York which have significant Jewish alumni. Additionally, many schools include the academic study of Judaism and Jewish culture in their curricula.

Throughout history, in eras and places as diverse as the ancient Hellenic world, in Europe before and after the Age of Enlightenment, in Al-Andalus, North Africa and the Middle East, in India and China, and in the contemporary United States and Israel, Jewish communities have seen the development of cultural phenomena that are characteristically Jewish without being at all specifically religious. Some factors in this come from within Judaism, others from the interaction of Jews with host populations in the Diasporas, and others from the inner social and cultural dynamics of the community, as opposed to religion itself. This phenomenon has led to considerably different Jewish cultures unique to their own communities.

Read more about Secular Jewish CultureHistory, Cuisine, Education and Politics, Economic Activity, Medicine, Science, and Academia, Literature, Media, and Performing Arts, Humor, Cinema, Radio and Television, Visual Arts and Architecture, See Also

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