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Everyday ReligionObserving Modern Religious Lives$
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Nancy T. Ammerman

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195305418

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195305418.001.0001

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 The New Voluntarism and the Case of Unsynagogued Jews

 The New Voluntarism and the Case of Unsynagogued Jews

(p.51) 3 The New Voluntarism and the Case of Unsynagogued Jews
Everyday Religion

Lynn Davidman

Oxford University Press

This essay is based on 30 open-ended interviews with Jews in the Northeast who do not belong to synagogues. Unsynagogued Jews present an interesting challenge to the general sociological tradition which sees ascription and choice as disparate ways of constructing a sense of self. These Jews clearly affirmed their understanding (consistent with the contemporary “new voluntarism” perspective) that religious association and practice are a matter of choice. Nevertheless, they also claimed that they have no choice about being Jewish; it is a matter of ascription. In practicing Judaism in everyday life, they creatively drew upon traditional symbols and practices to enact Jewish rituals in their own creative, syncretic ways. These unsynagogued Jews suggest that studies of contemporary religion should pay attention to practice as well as belief.

Keywords:   ascription, choice, new voluntarism, everyday life, practices, syncretic

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