The Ghetto, Louis Wirth, Chap XI, The Jewish ghettos, Chicago, Jewish, synagogue, rabbinism, rabbi
The Jewish ghetto of Chicago is home to a way of life that is markedly different from those of surrounding communities. The inhabitants of the ghetto carry on their day to day activities much in the same way that they did in Europe for hundreds of years. In Chicago, as in other major cities across the U.S, the Jewish ghetto is home to values and traditions that are passed on through the generations, creating a solid feeling of community and preserving an ancient way of life.
[...] The Jews living in the ghetto are trapped within it, largely ignorant of the events of the rest of Chicago and the U.S, and concern themselves only with their own affairs. The center of life in the Jewish ghetto is the synagogue, which wields both religious and political influence. The synagogue is the main meeting point of Jews and serves as a source of friendship and support. According to Chicago Ghetto,” “through the synagogue the members come into touch with the important events of concern to them, and the synagogue still remains the most effective organ of approach to the Jewish community” (208). [...]
[...] The experiences of the inhabitants of the Jewish ghetto are limited to the ghetto and they are unable to break free of the hold of the synagogue to explore the world outside. The iron laws of the synagogue prevent congregation members to see a world outside of the narrow ghetto: until the Jew gets out of the ghetto does he really live a full life” (226). The ghetto is largely exclusive and resists any interaction with outside forces, is the product of sectarianism and isolation, of prejudices and taboos” (226). [...]
[...] The synagogue, and by extension the rabbi, is responsible for enforcing the ancient Jewish customs and traditions. The synagogue operates under the “iron laws of medieval rabbinism,” and has come to dominate nearly every facet of life in the Jewish ghetto: synagogue and the rabbi leave scarcely a single phase of life in the congregation free from their control” (216). The Jewish community maintains it's independence through adherence to ancient traditions and the synagogue is the steward of those traditions. [...]
[...] This sort of seclusion can make people very narrow minded, in my opinion, however it can also have positive affects. This view of the world can create a very close-knit group of people who strive for one goal. Although we can say that these people are unaware of world events and don't know very basic things, their solidarity gives them strength and allows them to eventually step out of the Synagogue and interact with the world on a larger scale. Bibliography Wirth, Louis. The Ghetto (Studies in Ethnicity). New York: Transaction Publishers, 1997. [...]
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