Texts as Places, Texts as Mirrors: Anthropology of Judaisms and Jewish Textuality

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This paper takes a three-pronged approach to Jewish society and Jewish texts. The first cites several seminal works that illustrate the importance of examining Jewish textuality as an essential theme in the anthropology of Judaism. The second presents four scenes from a multi-sited ethnography I carried out that examines Jewish study institutions in differing cultural contexts and describes the possible contribution of this methodology to the ethnographic study of Jewish textuality. The third expands on the place of religious texts and their meaning in the context of processes of preservation, creativity, and change in Jewish culture. The discussion highlights the contribution of multi-sited ethnography, which illustrates how text creates “places,” meeting points between Jews and their Judaism, and how this encounter with the text serves as a source of reflection that can then be adapted to changing cultural contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-492
Number of pages22
JournalContemporary Jewry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2020

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© 2020, Springer Nature B.V.


  • Anthropology of Judaism
  • Jewish textuality
  • Multi-sited ethnography
  • Religious text


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