Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Self-Identity and Religious Transformation: A Study of Three Groups of American Jewish Women
by Goldwag, Cherie Dubin, Ph.D., Arizona State University, 2001, 240; 13917206
Abstract (Summary)

This is a cross-denominational comparison of the identity transformation experiences of three groups of twentieth century Jewish women: Lubavitch Hasidic women from Bais Chana, Minnesota; Modern Orthodox women from Lincoln Square Synagogue's Beginners Service; and women from the Conservative Rabbinical Seminaries. The women in this study did not grow up in religiously observant homes, yet later in life, they allowed halachic Judaism to change them in a fundamental and all-encompassing way (in self-concept, values, dress, diet, and social network) so much so that this writer calls it religious transformation. Transformation to Orthodoxy has been studied before by sociologists and psychologists who focused on the social factors which account for it, or the psychological variables within an individual which make one tend toward traditional religion. Never before has the topic been studied across denominational lines.

The study demonstrates how American culture and values (including aspects of feminism) are reflected in the religious transformation stories told by female Conservative Rabbis and newly Orthodox women. It can also offer insight as to how institutional frameworks and cultures influence religious world-views and how the seminarians and newly Orthodox came to assimilate the religious world-view into their own self-concept and way of life.

Most significant however, is that the analysis isolates the concept of identity as the object of that transformation. This analysis will attempt to deepen scholars' understanding of the concept of the self and identity and the process by which individuals come to have an identity by looking at how the concept of self-identity applies to these three groups of newly religious American Jewish women. Such a study is needed in order to appreciate the range and meaning of religious transformation in the modern American context.

Indexing (document details)
School: Arizona State University
Department: Religous Studies
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 80/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religion, Psychology, Judaic studies
Keywords: Feminism, Jewish, Orthodox, Religious transformation, Self-identity, Women
Publication Number: 13917206
ISBN: 978-1-392-29153-5
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