Anti-Semitism refers to all anti-Jewish statements, tendencies, resentments, attitudes, and actions, regardless of whether they are religiously, racially, socially, or otherwise motivated. Ever since the experience of National Socialist ideology and dictatorship, anti-Semitism has been understood as a social phenomena which serves as a paradigm for the formation of prejudices and the political exploitation of the hostilities that ensue from them. As prejudice research, it is primarily interested in the behaviour and attitudes of different majority societies, and strictly speaking, it does not even require knowledge of the discriminated minority. This article claims that anti-Semitism research and Jewish studies are not interconnected, nor dependent on one another. However, the history of Jews, their interaction with non-Jewish majority societies, their persecution and extermination, serves anti-Semitism research as a paradigm.
Lee I. Levine
This article addresses three related, though not identical, academic fields of study that crystallized only in the twentieth century. Beforehand, it had generally been assumed, whether for political, social, or religious reasons, that Jews eschewed art and architecture, either because they were visually uncreative, preferring the audile to the visual, or owing to the restrictions imposed on them by the Second Commandment. However, there emerged in the Post-Emancipation era an awareness that, in the course of their history, particularly in the later Middle Ages and modern times, Jews had produced an impressive array of artistic, mostly ceremonial, objects worthy of appreciation and display. This realization that a uniquely Jewish art and architecture existed in the past crystallized in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, finding expression, inter alia, in the establishment of Jewish museums throughout Europe, America, and Israel.
Sergio Della Pergola
The scientific study of the Jewish population, also known as demography of the Jews or Jewish demography, does not actually claim the status of a distinct discipline. It is an area of specialization focusing on the changing size and composition of Jewish populations and on the determinants and consequences of such changes. This article outlines some of the main concepts, interpretative frameworks, and methodological issues in the field, followed by a short outline of substantive patterns and applied uses of available knowledge. The main scientific rationale for the study of Jewish populations rests with the growing interest in understanding the demography of religious, ethnic, and cultural groups and minorities. Demographic changes provide an important and occasionally indispensable background for an appraisal of Jewish history and cultural experience. Hence, the study of Jewish demography is organically tied to the development of Jewish studies.
Aaron L. Mackler
This chapter discusses the distribution of health care, an issue that has become particularly urgent and controversial in recent years because the median age of populations in most English-speaking countries age has risen, so more people need more extensive medical care. This is happening, though, just, as medical science produces new but often expensive interventions that people come to expect, and, as a result of these factors and others, health care costs have risen dramatically. The chapter considers the Jewish principles that might guide the discussion of who gets what in medical care, and who pays for it.
This chapter discusses Jewish environmental ethics. It focuses on what two central biblical stories—the Garden of Eden and the Flood—tell us about Jewish ecological ethics as the Torah itself tells those stories, and as the later rabbis interpreted and expanded them, with special concern for the emerging ethics of Eco-Judaism. In so doing, the chapter illustrates how the Jewish tradition uses midrash, the interpretation of texts and their literary nuances, to discover meanings in sacred texts that make them ever relevant to us in changing times and circumstances. It briefly develops one of the Torah's laws on ecology, and an emerging interest on the part of some Jews to understand God differently to reflect our current ecological understanding of life as one integrated whole, in order to demonstrate how Jewish law and theology are relevant to ecology.
This article describes folklore as a unique form of cultural creativity and expression and discusses Jewish folklore through the ages and the scholarship of Jewish folklore. Folklore is a form of creativity and expression that exists in all the cultures we know. It is characterized by its qualities of collectivity and tradition, by its oral mode of expression, and usually by anonymity. Folklore is created and transmitted among individuals and groups through all the audio-visual interpersonal channels of communication. The discussion offers remarks on the field of folkloristics, to facilitate the application of accepted general terminology to the survey of Jewish folklore. The collective aspect of folklore is expressed both in the immediate interaction established between performer and audience, and in the concept of authority and ownership of the work, that is considered as belonging to the group and not an individual.
The emotions are an important feature of Jewish life and thought throughout the ages. From biblical descriptions of a God of pathos to early rabbinic and medieval works detailing the virtues, to mystical tracts focused on the inner life, and occasionally portraying emotion filled religious experiences of the adept, there have always been Jewish representations of the affective dimensions of life. In addition, the many ways Jews have actually participated in prayer and in the celebration of holidays, and in the construction of material objects and spaces in which such activities took place, also give evidence of emotional texture of the lives of Jews. John Corrigan's concluding observations in his introduction to Religion and Emotion: Approaches and Interpretations, in which he sets forth a model for future scholarship in this field, provide a standard against which to assess present investigations into Judaism and the emotions. Others who have produced methodologically astute scholarship adding significantly to the understanding of aspects of Jewish thought on the emotions are Michael Fishbane, Daniel Boyarin, and Hava Tirosh-Samuelson.
Harvey E. Goldberg
The social-scientific study of Judaism is a modern phenomenon just as are the social sciences themselves. Several themes run through various efforts to study Jews and Judaism in social-scientific terms. First is the need to understand the socio-political and ideological backgrounds to making Jews the object of scientific study. Another question is whether the impetus to a study of the Jews comes from a particular interest in their situation and development. Related to both of these issues is the question whether those undertaking the research are Jews or Gentiles. Another significant dividing line is the sociology of modern communities in the diaspora in contrast to the sociology of Israeli society that took shape at the time the state was established. A related topic that is worth tracing is the degree to which historians or other scholars of Jews and Judaism have adopted social-scientific modes of thought into their writings.
S. Ilan Troen
While Zionist ideology has long been part of the rubric of Jewish history, the study of its realization through the social, cultural, and political history of the Yishuv and Israel has been relatively neglected. The Jews of Eretz Israel (‘the Land of Israel’) numbered less than half of 1% of world Jewry at the beginning of the twentieth century. Israel now accounts for about 40% and is approaching parity with the United States. Israeli history and society has only recently become a discrete topic or field of study within the humanities and social sciences, and included in university curricula, even in Israel. Change began in Israel in the early 1990s, when various collections of courses under the title of ‘Israel Studies’ were organized as a modest subset within the BA degree.
James E. Waller
This article explores the impact of the Holocaust on subsequent social scientific research and the contribution of social scientific research to understanding the Holocaust and its aftereffects. The principal disciplines involved in this analysis are psychology, sociology, anthropology (particularly social and cultural anthropology), political science, and economics. Although some subfields of history deploy quantitative and qualitative methodologies similar to those of the social sciences, the emphasis here is on disciplinary and interdisciplinary work that seeks to go beyond the minutiae of thick description (‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, and ‘where’) to arrive at formulations of explanation and understanding (‘why’ and ‘how’) that reach beyond individual cases, i.e., that claim to know a little less and understand a little more.