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Jews in the Age of Authenticity

Jewish Spiritual Renewal in Israel

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Rachel Werczberger

In this book, Rachel Werczberger takes stock of the Jewish New Age spirituality scene in Israel at the turn of the millennium. Led by highly charismatic rabbis, the Hamakom and Bayit Chadash communities attempted to bring about a Jewish spiritual renewal by integrating Jewish tradition – especially Kabbalah and Hasidism – with New Age spirituality. Having spent over two years in field research, Werczberger presents a comprehensive ethnographic account of these two groups, examining their rise and fall after only six years of activity. At the core of their aspiration for Jewish spiritual renewal, claims Werczberger, was the quest for authenticity. She investigates the ways in which the language of authenticity was embraced by the members of the communities in their construction of a new spiritual Jewish identity, their re-invention of Jewish rituals, and their failed attempt at constructing community. She concludes that all these elements point to the dual form of politics of authenticity and identity with which the Israeli Jewish New Age is involved.

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174 jews in the age of authenticity B Ba’al Shem Tov (Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer), 41–42 Bauman, Zygmunt, 84, 117–118 Beck, Ulrich, 117, 139 Beit-Halhmi, Benjamin, 42–43 Bell, Daniel, 12 Bellah, Robert, 107 Bendix, Regina, 144 Berger, Peter, 5–6, 18n5 “BoBos” (bourgeois bohemians), 4 body sanctification of, 31 spirituality and, 60 Breslov Hasids, 5, 101 Brown, Michael F., 118–119 Buber, Martin, 25, 36, 37–39, 42, 45, 145 Buddhism, 26–27, 44, 152 C Canaanite movement, 154–155n5 capitalism, 7, 10, 12–13 Carlebach, Rabbi Schlomo, 47n3,101 channeling, 5, 118–119 chanting, 58, 78, 79n2, 79n3, 152 charisma, 125–134 leadership, 113–136, 141 performance of, 128–134 Charmé, Stuart, 141–142 Chayim Acheirim Magazine, 4, 44, 66, 69, 95, 115 Clark, Lynn Schofield, 11 Cohen, Steven, 11–12 Collins, Randall, 61 communitas, 77, 78 community commitment to, 122–124 community building, 113–136 desire for, 117–119 dialogue and, 151 expressive, 119–124 self and, 76, 118–122, 134–136, 141, 150–151 (see also individual/ community dialectic) consumer culture, 7, 10, 12–13, 34, 63, 116 Csikszentmilhalyi, Mihaly, 78 cultural appropriation, 18n8, 152–153. See also Orientalism D Day of Atonement, 56, 62 Deshen, Shlomo, 62 dialogue, 39, 45, 47n7, 79, 151 expressive 39, 45, 136n4, 151 E Eastern religions, 2, 25, 30, 36, 40–41, 44, 54, 60, 116, 141, 152 Eisen, Arnold, 11–12 Eisenstadt, S. N., 125 environmental consciousness, 146 Esalen, 136n7 ethnicity, 63, 149–152 ethnography, 15–17,...

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