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Jews on the FrontierReligion and Mobility in Nineteenth-Century America$
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Shari Rabin

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781479830473

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479830473.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 07 March 2021

Reminding Myself That I Am a Jew

Reminding Myself That I Am a Jew

Voluntarism and Social Life

(p.31) 2 Reminding Myself That I Am a Jew
Jews on the Frontier

Shari Rabin

NYU Press

Jewish migrants to the United States reveled in their ability to move, but also struggled to adapt to the distinctive social and economic relations of the United States, which was a “world of strangers.” This chapter shows how Jews created a wide range of social ties and institutions—not just congregations—in search of stability, trust, and identity. They entered into friendships and voluntary societies with non-Jews, but also sought out coreligionists through informal ties, newspapers, kosher boardinghouses, fraternalism, and worship services. Gradually, they moved to create Jewish organizations that were public and recognized by the state, including mutual aid societies, literary societies, fraternal lodges, charities, and congregations. Voluntarism did not perfectly map onto Jewish communalism, however, even more so because mobile Jews were rarely consistent, stable, or religiously uniform. This was especially problematic for congregations, which struggled to determine the boundaries and meaning of “membership” as well as the nature of congregational identity, liturgy, and worship.

Keywords:   newspapers, voluntarism, membership, fraternalism, liturgy, congregations

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