The litvish community of gateshead: reshaping the territoriality of the neighbourhood

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The renewed interest and deep concern with “Torah Lishmo” [for His sake, for a higher, spiritual purpose] and the specific interest in Mussar [a Jewish spiritual, ethical, educational and cultural practice that gives concrete instructions on how to live a meaningful and ethical life] have created a community whose main concern is that of living lives which are in meticulous compliance with Torah precepts and with particular attention given to interpersonal ethics. Although there are other Haredi communities in Britain, Gateshead’s particular role within the world of Jewry and its relative independence from the society at large provides the community with a specific position. It is an acquired position which is based upon a combination of their reputation as one of the world’s most important centres of formal Jewish culture transmission and the homogeneity and level which the community demonstrates regarding their deep-felt religiosity and devotion to Jewish ethics. It would seem that Gateshead has in some ways become a yardstick with which members of other Jewish communities might evaluate their levels of adherence to, as well as a choice of sociocultural commonalities upon which they base their ethnic identity. Throughout fifty years, these changes had restyled interpersonal interactions and brought about a renegotiation of particular sociocultural constructs. The spatial division in the voluntary ghetto of Gateshead allows religiously based lives to remain cut off from external influences and safeguards the younger generation from the perceived threats of non-Litvish culture. In terrain where sectoral interests clash, they turn to unofficial modes of group action to achieve their goals. This tendency is a strategy which has been possible to accomplish due to the community’s relative economic independence from the society at large and its occupation of a specific economic niche within the larger ethnic group, but it has also become desirable due to a particular sociocultural response to internal communal forces. Gateshead subgroup position is founded on the community’s particular response to external and internal forces, and whose present ethnic communalities are expressed in ways which differ from other Jewish subgroups. It provides a subgroup position which is both recognised and pronounced by members as well as non-members of the community and could thus be specifically relevant for the residential patterns of tightly bonded religious groups and national/ideological minorities. The tangible outcome of these changes is that the community is not only territoriality distinguishes itself within Anglo-Jewry, but has also become increasingly isolated from the society at large.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUrban Book Series
Number of pages26
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameUrban Book Series
ISSN (Print)2365-757X
ISSN (Electronic)2365-7588

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020.


  • Cultural dominance
  • Gateshead
  • Group behaviour
  • Residential relations
  • Territoriality
  • Voluntary ghetto


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