This book publishes original and peer-reviewed research contributions first presented at the BAJS conference 2013 at the University of Kent, Canterbury. It explores how modern Jewish identity and notions of belonging are shaped by boundaries. The drawing of boundaries has always been a key part of the Jewish tradition and has served to maintain a distinctive Jewish identity. At the same time, these boundaries have consistently been subject to negotiation, transgression and contestation. The increasing fragmentation of Judaism into competing claims to membership, from Orthodox adherence to secular identities, has brought striking new dimensions to this complex interplay of boundaries and modes of identity and belonging in contemporary Judaism.

Boundaries, Identity and Belonging in Modern Judaism addresses these new dimensions, bringing together experts in the field to explore the various and fluid modes of expressing and defining Jewish identity in the modern world. Its interdisciplinary scholarship opens new perspectives on the prominent questions challenging scholars in Jewish Studies. Beyond simply being born Jewish, observance of Judaism has become a lifestyle choice and active assertion. Addressing the demographic changes brought by population mobility and ‘marrying out,’ as well as the complex relationships between Israel and the Diaspora, this book reveals how these shifting boundaries play out in a global context, where Orthodoxy meets innovative ways of defining and acquiring Jewish identity.

Contents: 

INTRODUCTION Larry Ray and Maria Diemling 

1HOMELAND, EXILE AND THE BOUNDARIES OF JEWISH IDENTITY David Biale 

2. VARIETIES OF JEWISH POLITICAL IDENTITY: NOTES ON HANNAH ARENDT’S JEWISH WRITINGS Robert Fine 

3. IDENTITY AND NEGOTIATION OF BOUNDARIES AMONG YOUNG POLISH JEWS Joanna Cukras-Stelągowska 

4. SHADES OF CLOSENESS. BELONGING AND BECOMING IN A CONTEMPORARY POLISH JEWISH COMMUNITY Jan Lorenz 

5. MIMICRY, TRANSLATION AND BOUNDARIES OF JEWISHNESS IN THE SOVIET UNION Klavdia Smola 

6. ‘WHICH SELF?’ JEWISH IDENTITY IN THE CHILD-CENTRED HOLOCAUST NOVEL Lia Deromedi 

7. REALITY GAPS: NEGOTIATING THE BOUNDARIES OF BRITISH JEWISH IDENTITIES IN CONTEMPORARY FICTION Ruth Gilbert 

8. DEVIANCE, POLYVALENCE AND MUSICAL ‘THIRD SPACE’: NEGOTIATING BOUNDARIES OF JEWISHNESS AT PALESTINIAN HIP HOP PERFORMANCES IN THE TEL AVIV-YAFO UNDERGROUND Miranda Crowdus 

9. “DON’T BE A STRANGER”: GIYUR AS A THEOLOGISATION OF THE BOUNDARIES OF (JEWISH) IDENTITY Nechama Hadari 

10. ‘HANDS ACROSS THE TEA’: RE-NEGOTIATING JEWISH IDENTITY AND BELONGING IN POST-WAR SUBURBAN BRITAIN Hannah Ewence 

11. “I ALWAYS FELT ON THE EDGE OF THINGS AND NOT REALLY PART OF IT”: FUZZY BOUNDARIES IN AN EXTENDED SCOTTISH JEWISH FAMILY Fiona Frank 

12. PROBING THE BOUNDARIES OF JEWISHNESS AND ISRAELI IDENTITY – THE SITUATION OF NON-JEWISH PARTNERS AND SPOUSES OF ISRAELI JEWS Dani Kranz 

13. PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES: CONTEMPORARY JEWISH CRITICS OF ISRAEL AND ZIONISM Dashiel Lawrence 

14. CONJURING CRYPTO-JEWS IN NEW MEXICO: VIOLATING ETHNIC, SCHOLARLY AND ETHICAL BOUNDARIES Judith Neulander