Communities in conflict: Social and religious movements in Jewish life
Levine, Eric Michael
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Conflict and polarization among the religious denominations in the Jewish community have been the subject of continuing debate. Some observers of the North American Jewish community have concluded that, as a result of profound ideological and social differences, schism within the Jewish people along religious lines could occur.;A new stage in religious and organizational relations is becoming manifest--the solidifying of differences between Jewish religious groups into structurally separate, independent, and more or less isolated communal and social systems. In addition to the growing divisions and shifting realignments among major religious denominations, dissent within denominations has occurred, producing internal social movements, organizational conflict and schism. Even as the more publicized confrontations take place across denominational lines, less public but no less important struggles occur with frequency and intensity within them, able to produce other long-standing lines of social cleavage. This shifting religious picture contains significant changes for the American Jewish community overall.;The shifts that are occurring within the Jewish community and its denominational systems provide the context for this examination. The study draws from three rich theoretical traditions: conflict theory, the synthesized social psychology-resource mobilization approach to social movements, and theory of religion. It traces these important patterns of conflict at the macro, meso (group), and micro-levels of analysis, as well as the intersections among them. To sharpen theory development, this paper investigates the emergence of a protest movement within Conservative Judaism, the Union for Traditional Conservative Judaism, which resulted in the establishment of religious movement organizations and organizational schism. The research examines the complex issues underlying the controversy, and explores the reasons that prompt a set of actors to come together in response to commonly perceived needs, to organize and take collective action.;In sum, this study seeks to increase the understanding of a fundamental community social work process of conflict and change, contribute to the development of social movement theory, explore the meaning of the case itself, and expand the knowledge of contemporary Jewish life in America.