Trying to Understand Religious Parents, Three Sociologists Accidentally Discover Something about the (Secular) American Creed

In Religious Parenting, a trio of professors analyze the results of an extensive study of the attitudes of Americans who wish to inculcate religious belief in their children. Melissa Langsam Braunstein, in her review, notes that the authors display a conspicuous lack of understanding of Judaism, beginning with their choice of subjects:

By interviewing 235 single and coupled parents—215 of whom self-identified as religious, and fifteen of whom were Jewish—the co-authors [found] remarkably similar answers across geography, social class, and religious background. In short, they find that religious people . . . have much in common.

[The Jews include] a mother who found “it weird to have [her baby] do Jewish things, like Shabbat or putting a little yamaka [sic] on his little head”; the father who blamed religion for “the overwhelming number of wars”; the mother who insisted that “rules don’t have intrinsic truth or value to them” in Judaism; or the father who acknowledged, “‘I’m not really a spiritual or religious person.’” . . . That the authors completely ignore Orthodox Jews, who observe Judaism as a 24/7 religion and have a better retention rate, makes zero sense.

Moreover, writes Braunstein, the book seems to miss something more profound hidden in the data:

That many parents expressed a willingness to skip religious services in favor of weekend sports leagues . . . sounded less like commentary on any particular religious group than an expression of Americanism, our non-sectarian religion. Ditto where the authors note, “The story is thus identical across all of these demographic differences: in life, each individual must be self-determining and true to [his] unique self.” That perfectly encapsulates American individualist thinking, but not community-oriented Judaism. And when the authors observe [that] “Children’s ‘best selves’ do not automatically happen. They must be nurtured and achieved,” they are summarizing American upper-middle-class achievement culture, not a religious idea.

Read more at University Bookman

More about: Academia, American Religion, Children, Judaism

Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security