This research asks how the concept of community has been understood in post-war British Jewry and whether other understandings of community are possible or desirable.
About the project
The concept of community has a particular resonance for Jews. Anglo-Jewry has constituted itself through a complex network of communal institutions, centrally geared towards ensuring communal survival: not just the physical survival of Jews, but also the collective survival of Jewish communities.
This manifests externally, through forms of collective representation and defence to address anti-Jewish prejudice, and internally, through cultural/educational strategies against assimilation.
This research asks how the concept of community has been understood in post-war British Jewry and whether other understandings of community are possible or desirable. Has understanding of community changed over time?
What implications has this had for how communal leaders gained or claimed legitimacy both inside and outside the community? How have wider debates about multiculturalism affected this? The hypothesis is that there has been a transition from a communal agenda preoccupied with the nurturing of communal security, to one that is concerned about an excess of security amongst British Jews.
Two case studies are being undertaken to address these questions: on the concept of Jewish continuity following the 1991 induction of Chief Rabbi Sacks, and attitudes to 'the new antisemitism' since 2000.
Ben Gidley and keith Khan Harris produced these two publications in 2008.