© KlezCalifornia Inc, or used by permission. All rights reserved.
Beyond the Synagogue
American Jews tell stories about who they are and where they come from through a range of everyday objects and supposedly secular organizations. In her book Beyond the Synagogue: Jewish Nostalgia as Religious Practice, religious studies professor Rachel B. Gross examines the ways many American Jews express longing for Eastern European heritage through artisanal delis, children’s books and dolls, historic synagogues, and Jewish genealogy. She argues that these nostalgic activities should be understood as religious practices, illuminating how many American Jews are finding and making meaning within American Judaism today. This analysis points to the limits and possibilities of nostalgia, including challenges in embracing diversity among American Jews.
Rachel B. Gross is Associate Professor and John and Marcia Goldman Chair in American Jewish Studies in the Department of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University.