Synagogue Life: A Symbolic Study in Interaction.
This is not a book about the religion of Orthodox Jews, for it explains neither their religion nor the essence of their Orthodoxy. One will not find the faithful Jew here—not because he does not exist, but because the analytic perspective used here transforms him into a person like all others, subject primarily to the imperatives of commingling. The first is that the members of “Kehillat Kodesh,” as modern, Orthodox Jews, are engaged in a continuous process of self-definition. Being committed to both Jewish tradition and the modern world, they seek to reconcile the two, and to situate themselves in relation to other Jews who do not. Thus, it is the members’ persistent habit to make disparaging remarks about the religiosity manifested in other “Sprawl City” Jewish institutions. Conservative and Reform synagogues are “too modern”; the people who frequent them are labeled “trefniaks” or not kosher (301-305) and “goyim” also known as Gentiles (301-305.) On the other hand, the traditionalist “Sprawl City” yeshivah high school is criticized for being “too frum” ; its teachers and students are “way out” and “crazy frum.” All this bad-mouthing has a very definite purpose—to establish the “fact,” as Heilman puts it, that true frumkeit is synonymous with conformity to Jewish observance as publicly practiced at ‘Kehillat Kodesh.’They discuss Jewish worship by several definitions given by Milgram, “ Prayer is essentially the product of man’s yearning for the most intimate of all human communications for the opportunity to open his heart and his mind in adoration and supplication in the divine presence.
As I learned more about prominent role-players in the house of prayer there is the outsider, which can be further divided into those of a stranger and guest. According to Simmel.” Their in the group is determined, essentially by the fact that he has not belonged to it from the beginning, the qualities he imports into which, do not stem from the group itself” (108.) There are three types of strangers , foreigner, visitor, and mendicant. While the visitor and the foreigner would like to assimilate into the shul, the mendicant only comes to exploit the group rather than to join and give himself to it . For them the house of prayer is viewed as a house of opportunity. Giving of charity has been an integral part of the religious life of Orthodox Jews. It is stated, “To give one’s wealth to another Jew is imperative, commanded by the laws and the traditions of Jewry, and no man may consider his religious obligations completely fulfilled without having engaged in some charity giving. Heilman discusses the social significance of yarmulkes of every type (knitted, white linen, black, plaid, velvet); the varieties of gossip , news, public knowledge, privileged information, secret gossip; the assorted forms of shul humor , public joking, privileged joking, secret joking ; and various...