Benjamin J. Elton
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Jewish religious responses to modernity
A typology
in Britain’s Chief Rabbis and the religious character of Anglo-Jewry, 1880–1970
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This chapter sketches out a typology of the Jewish religious responses, for placing the Chief Rabbis in that context. Peter Berger constructed a typology of general religious responses to modernity in the 1960s, based around two ideal types: 'accommodators', who believed that peace could be made between tradition and modernity, and 'resistors' who rejected modernity as wholly negative. For many years most Jewish communities lacked rabbis, which made rabbinic control difficult to impose when rabbis did arrive; hence the failure to establish a successful Chief Rabbi of New York in the late nineteenth century. In France and Britain, traditional religious leadership enjoyed the institutional allegiance of most Jews. The scientific group embraced Wissenschaft des Judentums as the best way to understand Jewish tradition and they sought to incorporate its methods and findings in their modes of study.

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