Finally, a Comprehensive Examination of Jewish Culture
Maybe there’s another way to define the culture of Judaism.
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Culture reigns supreme.
Not just for Judaism, Jews, and Israel — for most every community, society, nationality, and ethnicity.
But, what exactly is Jewish culture?
This question is a double-sided coin, because there is what we can call “general Jewish culture,” mainly driven by U.S. Jews (who represent the world’s second-biggest Jewish population after Israel). And, as an extension, U.S. pop culture, with an emphasis on Hollywood and its affiliates, to which a hearty number of Jews contribute.
Then there’s Israeli Jewish culture, a complex combination of:
Cultures brought by Jewish immigrants to the State of Israel, predominantly from European countries (Ashkenazi Jews) to Middle Eastern ones (Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews)
The experiences Jews have endured while living in Israel, such as (a) wars and widespread violence just about every decade from the State’s founding in 1948 through the 2000s, (b) obligatory army service for all citizens, and (c) the delicate balance between a Jewish and democratic state
Yet, neither Israeli nor U.S. Jews definitively shape global Jewish culture, despite representing more than 70-percent of the world’s Jews, collectively, today. This is likely one of the reasons why Jewish culture hasn’t “caught on” among the greater world to a similar extent as, say, Black culture, because there is no clear-cut Jewish culture.
The Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv — the world’s most expansive museum about Jewish Peoplehood — also found itself struggling to settle on a concrete definition for Jewish culture.
“What is modern Jewish culture? It’s difficult to determine precisely because every culture is a variegated and ever-changing whole,” according to text on the wall of an exhibit at the museum.
“Nonetheless, due to the complex historical backdrop of Jewish life throughout the generations, it seems that Jewish culture is especially diverse and multifaceted. In the modern period, Jewish culture has become even more diversified and diffuse.”
Maybe there’s another way to define Jewish culture, by examining these six cornerstones of culture: