Multiple modernities of the orthodox Saint-Petersburg Jewry
Dr. Sci. (Soc.), Professor, Saint-Petersburg State University, Faculty of Sociology, Saint-Petersburg, Russia firstname.lastname@example.org
This article describes the results of field research into the multiple modernity of St. Petersburg Jewry. The text reviews biographical narratives of the Modern Orthodox and of those belonging to Hasids of Lubavitcher tradition (or the Chabads as they call themselves). The surveyed Modern Orthodox community of the observant Jews of St. Petersburg is both a unique and novel example of an imaginary community, which I called communitas PJU – NJS. The shared university and work experience has defined their biographies, their identity, as well as their social and political positions. Most of them guided by the Religious Zionism ended up moving to Israel. However, having settled there, they did not join social and cultural life of Israel, but rather maintained a translocal identity. The latter is characterized by Soviet heritage as well as by the Jewish Orthodox values. The second group discussed here has combined the Soviet heritage embraced by Lubavitcher Hasids with the Western vision of the Chabad movement promoted by Chabad missionaziers from the US and Israel. The Chabad respondents aspire to build a solid religious community, an ethnic and religious transnational network of the Chabad organizations, the purpose of which is to enforce Hasidic dogmas and traditions. The characteristic features of the Chabad of St. Petersburg are their hostile attitude towards the non-Jewish outsiders, an ambition to become a leading religious group, as well as a well as diversity of local groups. Both the Chabad youth and the direct descendants of the Lubavitcher Hasids seem to be indifferent to Religious Zionism. The new objective of their modernity project is to build a transnational Chabad network.
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