Cultural Disjunctions

Cultural Disjunctions

Post-Traditional Jewish Identities

Paul Mendes-Flohr
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The identity of contemporary Jews is multifaceted, no longer necessarily defined by an observance of the Torah and God' s commandments. Indeed, the Jews of modernity are no longer exclusively Jewish. They are affiliated with a host of complementary and sometimes clashing communities-vocational, professional, political, and cultural-whose interests may not coincide with that of the community of their birth and inherited culture. In Cultural Disjunctions, Paul Mendes-Flohr explores the possibility of a spiritually and intellectually engaged cosmopolitan Jewish identity for our time. Reflecting on the need to participate in the spiritual life of Judaism so that it enables multiple relations beyond its borders and allows one to balance Jewish commitment with a genuine obligation to the universal, Mendes-Flohr lays out what this delicate balance can look like for contemporary Jews, both in Israel and in diasporic communities worldwide. Cultural Disjunctions walks us through the labyrinth of twentieth-century Jewish cultural identities and commitments. Ultimately, Mendes-Flohr calls for Jews to remain "discontent," not just with themselves but also and especially with the reigning social and political order, and to fight for its betterment.
Paul Mendes-Flohr is the Dorothy Grant Maclear professor emeritus of Modern Jewish History and Thought in the Divinity School and associate faculty in the Department of History at the University of Chicago, as well as professor emeritus of Jewish thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author of many books, including Martin Buber: A Life of Faith and Dissent, and he is the coeditor of The Jew in the Modern World: A Documentary History.