The Emergence of Conservative Judaism: The Historical School in 19th Century America

The Emergence of Conservative Judaism: The Historical School in 19th Century America

The Emergence of Conservative Judaism: The Historical School in 19th Century America

The Emergence of Conservative Judaism: The Historical School in 19th Century America

Excerpt

Throughout its long history, Judaism has come in contact with a variety of traditions and cultures. It has been affected by them and has, in turn, contributed to many of them. Confrontation with the American environment has proved to be especially strong and pervasive. Conscious and unconscious forms of identification and adaptation were introduced by the Jews into their Tradition as they established themselves in America and were acclimatized there. Elements of the Jewish spirit, latent in other ages and experiences, were vitalized as they met American thought, life and expression. The historic idea of Judaism, which was congenial to the American temper, was introduced in Colonial times by the earliest Jewish settlers. It has undergone widely diverse changes. It is still undergoing complex changes, for the Jewish settlement in America is comparatively young and reflects constant mobility in a land and in an age which are characterized by continuous change and growth.

Any attempt to describe the authentic spirit of Judaism in America has to be based, in large measure, on religious group life and institutions. In the history of Judaism, the religious institutions had been the chief bearers and interpreters of the Tradition. Without in any way underestimating the vital place of all other forms of communal expression, it was primarily through religious institutions that the Tradition also expressed itself in America. To grasp the essential nature of . . .

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