Get Ready for Jewish iSpirituality

The Spotify Generation Is Redefining Religion

Vintage Vinyl: Old time religion is going the way of the old record store.
Getty Images
Vintage Vinyl: Old time religion is going the way of the old record store.

By Jay Michaelson

Published February 06, 2013, issue of February 08, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 4)

With modernity came emancipation, and the many shades of gray that define contemporary Jewish identities: movements; ideologies; spectrums of religious to secular, identified to not. Some Jewish communities are still fighting this battle, walling themselves off from modernity and its choices. Some Jews have found ways to cope; others have left much of their Jewishness behind.

But if modernity brought new choices, and challenges, to Jewish life, it still retained conventional notions of identity and existing structures of cultural dissemination. I remember being asked in high school, whether I considered myself an American Jew or a Jewish American. This is how the choice was offered: basically a weighing of two identities. Of course, those were not our only defining characteristics: We were Conservative Jews, not the Christianizing Reform or the crazy Orthodox. We were Democrats, not like the goyim. And there were a dozen privileged statuses that, like all privileges, were invisible as long as you had them: I was white, male, straight-acting and middle class.

Postmodernity, enabled by information technology and the shattering of conventional identity markers, is of a different order of magnitude. Boundaries between Jewish and not are eroding, thanks to multi-faith families and hyphenated religio-cultural identities. The whiteness of Jews is eroding, thanks to exogamy, adoption and the increased inclusion of Jews of color, Mizrahi Jews, Sephardic Jews and Ethiopian Jews. Denominational affiliation is decreasing, as Jews define themselves less by top-down ideological dogmas and more by pragmatism, communities of concern, class and other vectors of affiliation. Am I a Jewish American? An American Jew? Or a Gen-X, post-secular, queer, Buddhist, non-dual, post-denominational eco-Jew who has lived in Israel and davens Renewal, Reconstructionist, neo-Hasidic, Conservative and independent?


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.