Accepted Paper:

Learning to be Jewish: moralities of intergenerational exchange and regeneration in a pluralistic Jewish day school  


Sally Anderson (Aarhus University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the intergenerational modalities and moralities children encounter in a Danish Jewish day school. It argues that the school's efforts to 'regenerate' Jewish affiliation among pupils is tempered by a plurality of intergenerational exchanges and claims to a Jewish identity.

Paper long abstract:

Parents often enroll their children in faith-based schools to ensure a desired inculcation of religious teachings and traditions, thought to facilitate the child's personal religious stance and affiliation with a religious community. Many studies of religious socialization reproduce this linear logic by focusing on processes and practices of religious enculturation and embodiment aimed at placing and keeping children 'within the folds' of their parents' moral and religious communities. Such studies tend to represent faith-based communities as monolithic agents of social reproduction working to ensure cultural continuity, social replacement and group survival.

Drawing on the ethnography of a day school run by the Jewish Community in Denmark, this paper explores the multifaceted intergenerational modalities and moralities of remembrance that children encounter in this setting. It argues that the school's pedagogical effort to 'regenerate' a Jewish affiliation among pupils is tempered by a plurality of intergenerational exchanges and diverse claims to acceptable Jewish identity by various segments of the community. Thus, although the moral education of Jewish children involves cultivating institutionalized exchanges with a deity, forefathers, religious prescriptions and traditions, it also involves learning to distinguish subtle, yet forceful categorical differences in religiosity. Keeping children 'within the fold' of this small faith-based community entails inculcating the moral capacity to engage as cultural intimates across conflicting factions and diverse identities.

Panel W031
Children, youth and religion: visions of mutuality and diversity across generations