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Comparing the Jewish experience in Western Europe and the United States in the modern era

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The American and French Jewish communities.
  3. The reconstitution and the affirmation of the Jewish community in public space.
  4. The need for community organizations in order to structure the community and defend its interests.
  5. Religious renewal.
    1. Characterized by a religious pluralism in the United States and in France.
    2. The single woman rabbi in France.
  6. Another aspect of Jewish identity.
  7. Their influence in public space.
  8. Conclusion.
  9. Bibliography.

The United-States is a country built by immigrants, especially Jewish European immigrants. Immigrants actively participate in the elaboration of American culture. This country particularly respects ethnic and religious particularism and promotes "affirmative action" in the direction of sexual and ethnic minorities. Multiculturalism and communautarism are encouraged by American culture. On the contrary, commnautarism corresponds to a very pejorative term in France and it is generally assimilated to religious integrity and extremism. Since the French Revolution, France is considered as a country which doesn't respect regional, ethnic and religious particularism. France promotes assimilation in order to integrate immigrants in the French Republic and culture. Besides, the recent presidential election campaign emphasizes the key issue of "French national identity". Both have imagined two deeply different strategies in order to integrate immigrants in the Nation. In those two countries, the Jewish Diaspora, which mainly results from old and recent immigration, represents one of the most important communities. Consequently, we may wonder how the Jewish Diaspora has evolved in those two countries over the past 60 years. In spite of a different model of integration, are there more similarities or differences between French and American Jewish community? Finally, we may wonder as to what extent the French Jewish community is influenced by the American Jewish experience.

[...] The reconstitution and the affirmation of the Jewish community in public space is the result of many factors and are materialized through community organizations. After the World War II, the American Jewish community already exists. Jews' affinity to the dominant Protestant culture contributed to their remarkable integration into American life. In spite of Jews have become an integral part of the cultural activities of the nation, they have retained their ethnic identity more than any non-Protestant immigrant group[1]. In France, the situation of Jewish community is partially different. [...]


[...] Anti-Semitism is a constant fact of life in the United States and in France (murders, attacks against synagogues, attack against the Mémorial du martyr juif inconnu by machine guns in 1980 or racism of Jean-Marie Le Pen's radical- right National Front). Since the second Intifada, anti-Semitic acts have increased[6]. In order to fight anti-Semitism and segregation, the leaders of the American Jewish community created the Ligue B'nai Brith. In 1968, Rabbi Meir Kahane founded the Jewish Defense League, an extremist organisation which has its counterpart in France. [...]


[...] In order to be an American, it was necessary to be religious because the United States is the Jerusalem? and because if you were religious, you were not atheistic, consequently, you were not Communist. Religion is an American mainstream of American life. America is structured by a normative religious culture. What is more, this religious renewal is characterized by a religious pluralism in the United States and in France. New practices and new influences emerge. The size of the three main branches of Judaism in the United States is paradoxically inversely proportional to their degree of liberalism and accommodation to the dominant American culture[10]. [...]

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