Contemporary Jewry

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 1–2

Editor’s Introduction


DOI: 10.1007/s12397-011-9064-9

Cite this article as:
Heilman, S. Cont Jewry (2011) 31: 1. doi:10.1007/s12397-011-9064-9

This issue of Contemporary Jewry offers a veritable feast of fascinating articles. We begin with the extraordinary account by Maya Balakirsky Katz, “A Rabbi, A Priest and A Psychoanalyst,” that explores the psychoanalysis of Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber Schneersohn, the Fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, by Wilhelm Stekel, under the guidance of Sigmund Freud. While this material has been dealt with elsewhere, this new article provides an important understanding of how and why, in his reporting on the case of the rabbi, Stekel, a Jew with largely hidden roots in the observant community, might well have felt a need to create the case of the priest into which he placed the most scandalous aspects of the rabbi’s condition in order, as Katz argues, to “deflect criticism that the real cause of the rabbi’s dysfunction related to the rabbi’s ethnicity and cultural milieu.” This is a paper that offers us a view of the often unspoken but keenly felt issues that infected early psychoanalysis and its practitioners, a concern that the new ‘science’ was wrapped up with Jewish questions. It shows with unusual nuance, how complex the “Jewish complex” was at the time and in that world. And not incidentally, it also gives yet another glimpse of the very complex character of Schneersohn, a ChaBaD rabbi perhaps unfairly eclipsed by the more recent Seventh Lubavitcher leader and would-be Messiah.

In Adam Ferziger’s “Holocaust, Hurban, and Haredization: Pilgrimages to Eastern Europe and the Realignment of American Orthodoxy,” we get another more contemporary side of the Jewish complex: a view of what I elsewhere have called and which Ferziger also refers to as the phenomenon of Jewish Orthodoxy “sliding to the religious right.” Ferziger finds this happening in a place where one might have thought other matters would possess the “pilgrims” he looks at: young people on post-high-school trips to Poland and the Nazi death camps. The so-called “March of the Living,” Ferziger argues, has become – since the 1990’s – an occasion to introduce increasingly haredi practices among the Orthodox participants. Particularly noteworthy is the strict separation of men and women on these trips. In addition the trips emphasize pilgrimage to the places associated specifically with the Hasidic and yeshiva world of pre-Holocaust Jewry. There is of course a complex irony here: those great Orthodox leaders (gedoilim) urged their followers not to leave Europe for either America (the trefe medina) or the (unholy) Zionist settlement in Palestine because they argued that these were not places where true religious Judaism would flourish. Sadly, this obviously wrong-headed advice (for Orthodox Judaism has indeed flourished in both America and Israel) ended up trapping so many of the Orthodox in the Nazi firestorm, turning Poland into a one great Jewish graveyard. Yet now, the hope is to use these trips to the places where they gave this wrong-headed and tragic advice to “awaken” that same Orthodoxy, which of course has flourished in both America and the Zionist state.

Our issue concludes with the Sklare Memorial Award paper, “Social Networks and the Jews” by Charles Kadushin, along with the comments by Paul Burstein and Bruce Phillips. Kadushin’s paper shows how complex the character of social networks among Jews has been and the challenges this poses for social researchers. As he notes, interest in this subject is not new. Tracing the subject through sociological, Hebraic, and Jewish sources, Kadushin displays his facility and knowledge in all these domains and provides readers with a truly integrated understanding of the subject (and demonstrates why he was such a worthy recipient of the award). With diagrammatic assistance and wry humor, his piece will, I am certain, become a classic of the sociological literature on Jewry, and we are proud to publish it.

Subscribers will have already begun to note that as our journal transitions to electronic form, many of the articles in our issue have been and are available online much before the print version is published. This means that those of you who read us in cyberspace will already have a view of what is coming up next, and will of course be able to search and use the articles in a far more efficient way than was possible in the past. I believe this will make our journal an ever more important resource, and this is a good time to remind all our readers to make certain that the libraries you use are subscribers. We know what we are publishing in the pages of Contemporary Jewry is absolutely first rate, and you, our readers, are the best vehicle for informing the world of that fact.

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyNew YorkUSA