The Myth of the Cultural Jew: Culture and Law in Jewish Tradition by Roberta Rosenthal Kwall

Cover for The Myth of the Cultural Jew: Culture and Law in Jewish Tradition by Roberta Rosenthal Kwall

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A myth exists that Jews can embrace the cultural components of Judaism without appreciating the legal aspects of the Jewish tradition. This myth suggests that law and culture are independent of one another. In reality, however, much of Jewish culture has a basis in Jewish law. Similarly, Jewish law produces Jewish culture. A cultural analysis paradigm provides a useful way of understanding the Jewish tradition as the product of both legal precepts and cultural elements. This paradigm sees law and culture as inextricably intertwined and historically specific. This perspective also emphasizes the human element of law’s composition and the role of existing power dynamics in shaping Jewish law.

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