Jewish Identities in Action: An Exploration of Models, Metaphors, and Methods

May. 25, 2008

Source: Journal of Jewish Education, Volume 74, Issue 2, pages 115 - 143


“Jewish identity” has been a central concern both in the realm of research about American Jewry and to American Jewish educational programming, but what it means and how to best study it have come under question in recent years.


In this article, four scholars describe the ways they understand Jewish identity among American Jews and how they study it. Together, they avoid defining the content of Jewish identity in specific normative/prescriptive terms because this unnecessarily flattens and delimits the ways people experience being Jewish. Instead they seek to expand the kinds of analytic questions and research methodologies in ways that permit descriptive and non-evaluative conceptualizations, viewing Jewish identities as emerging from the complex interplay of “Jewishness” in the environment with other aspects of the self, and its longitudinal and cross-contexts.

Updated: Oct. 04, 2008