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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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I Prefer Choice Myself

I Prefer Choice Myself

Family and the State

(p.57) 3 I Prefer Choice Myself
Jews on the Frontier

Shari Rabin

NYU Press

The search for stability and identity found expression not only in social life, but also in family life and the rhythms of the life cycle. Mobility intensified the desire for families, even as conditions made them difficult to create and maintain. There was a shortage of Jewish women as well as the requisite resources for traditional practice. Whereas in Europe, government-supported authorities had overseen these ritual practices, American law featured its own weak regulations of marriage, education, and death, usually in diverse state-based configurations. While some Jews did abandon Jewish practices, many tried to maintain them, cobbling together the requisite resources through informal networks or nascent institutions. In so doing, Jewish men and women often departed considerably from the expectations of Jewish authorities, embracing principles of sentimentalism and individualism, which were more mobile and reliable than Jewish legal strictures.

Keywords:   family, marriage, education, death, sentimentalism

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