Social Change and Halakhic Evolution in American Orthodoxy

BookSocial Change and Halakhic Evolution in American Orthodoxy

Social Change and Halakhic Evolution in American Orthodoxy

Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


July 1st, 2019



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'Wonderful..... An invaluable synthesis and a fine analysis of recent developments'
Jonathan Sarna, Brandeis University

'The book was a pleasure to read, as well as insightful and interesting. [...] The book is very well written – wonder of wonders, a sociology book without jargon!'
Professor Menachem Kellner, Chair, Dept of Philosophy and Jewish Thought, Shalem College, Jerusalem

'Along with his careful sociological analysis, [Waxman] brings an impeccable knowledge of Jewish history, law, and practice. His writing displays no perceivable bias for or against any denomination or sub-denomination of Judaism. He writes sociology without jargon, and, when necessary, explains fine points of Jewish law so that any reader can understand them.'
Martin Lockshin, The Canadian Jewish News

'Professor Chaim Waxman, a prominent and highly respected sociologist of contemporary Orthodoxy, has made a superb assessment of the history, development, and current and future situation of Orthodoxy in his relatively short but comprehensive 178-page book, Social Change and Halakhic Evolution in American Orthodoxy.'
Rabbi Dr. Israel Drazin, Ideals

‘lucid and insightful overview . . . a wonderful guide to the change occurring in both directions and, ultimately, to the battle for the soul of Orthodox Judaism’
Steven Bayme, national director, contemporary Jewish life, AJC

Chaim Waxman, a prominent sociologist of contemporary Orthodoxy, is one of the keenest observers of American Jewish society. In illustration of how Orthodoxy is adapting to modernity, he presents a detailed discussion of halakhic developments, particularly regarding women’s greater participation in ritual practices and other areas of communal life. He shows that the direction of change is not uniform: there is both greater stringency and greater leniency, and he discusses the many reasons for this, both in the Jewish community and in the wider society. Relations between the various sectors of American Orthodoxy over the past several decades are also considered.

Author Information

Chaim I. Waxman is Chair of the Behavior Sciences Department of Hadassah Academic College, Jerusalem, and Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Jewish Studies, Rutgers University. His many books include 'American Aliya: Portrait of an Innovative Migration Movement' (1989) and 'Jewish Baby Boomers: A Communal Perspective' (2001).