Often overlooked as routine or even dismissed as odd customs, ritual in its many guises demands attention as a central strategy for embodying experience. Like other groups, Jews rely on ritual to provide an inventory of social meanings and a context for negotiating the challenges of everyday life. Ritual for Jews has historically carried special meanings for conveying what is Jewish about Jewishness. It is not enough, however, simply to document customs: for a full understanding of ritual and its meaning for participants we need to analyse how ritual expressions such as liturgies, holidays, life-cycle events - even political rallies - change in response to developments in the wider society, or are adapted to meet new needs. The innovative studies of adapted, invented, and evolving rituals presented in this volume, that include the Tunisian Jewish celebration of Se'udat Yitro, liturgical prayers for Israel Independence Day, shiva observance in an old-age home, transplanted Ethiopian Jewish wedding events, and same-sex marriage rituals. thus interpret the Jewish enactment of ritual and uses of tradition in everyday life against the background of modernity and community. It is the complexities of ritual - the dynamics of negotiating the religious and the secular, the traditional and the modern, the social and the political, performance and practice - that form the core of the book. Together, the contributors show ritual action to be key to the maintenance of Jewish identity and to the expression of a distinctive world-view.
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