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7 Two Orthodox Cultures: “Centrist” Orthodoxy and Religious Zionism

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Chapter Summary

This chapter compares two contemporary Jewish Orthodox cultures, American "Centrist" Orthodoxy and Israeli Religious Zionism. It argues that despite common Orthodox religious orientations and a shared right-wing political orientation, these two communities have significantly different underlying religious cultures. Israeli Religious Zionism is a Romantic nationalist culture with a strong expressivist dimension; that is, a strong emphasis on self-expression and notions. American Centrist Orthodoxy continues the traditional Jewish pattern of emphasis upon religious heteronomy; that is, the Torah and God's commandments are imposed externally on the Jew. As a result of these cultural differences, the two communities differ in terms of cultural phenomena such as the place of art and literature and, to a certain extent, in regard to the type of interpretation of Biblical and Talmudic sources that is current, favored, and valued. The chapter compares Orthodox publications: Makor Rishon in Israel, and The Jewish Press in New York.

Keywords: American "Centrist" Orthodoxy; Biblical and Talmudic sources; God's commandments; Israeli Religious Zionism; Makor Rishon; Orthodox cultures; The Jewish Press; Torah



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