, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 75-78
Date: 31 Oct 2010

Comment on Kadushin, Social Networks and Jews

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I was honored to be asked by Professor Kadushin to comment on his Marshall Sklare Memorial Lecture. He has unique contributions to make to the social-scientific study of Jewry, and I’m glad to be brought into the conversation.

Jews love to play “Jewish geography.” It’s fun for two Jews from opposite sides of the country, meeting for the first time, to discover that they have acquaintances in common. Sometimes the connections are through family, but most often they’re through organizations—one of the new acquaintances met the other’s sister at a Jewish camp, or met a good friend of the other at an AIPAC or Hadassah convention, or their children both go to Hillel at a particular university.

But Jewish geography is not only fun. Indeed, it manifests—at least in my reading of “Social Networks and Jews”—two profoundly important aspects of Jewish life in the diaspora. First, social networks sustain Jewish communal life; they were, writes Professor Kadushin, “the main sources of social organiza