Contemporary Jewry

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 94–115 | Cite as

The secular ideology of jewish ethnicity in NEW Zealand

  • Hal B. Levine
Contemporary jewry


Gans (1979) and Alba (1990) have argued that ethnicity in white America is becoming increasingly “symbolic” as the social structural factors which supported group solidarity become eroded by the forces of modernity. Jewish ethnicity has been fundamentally affected by these forces which have lessened occupational and social concentration and the cultural distinctiveness of Jews. In an era when personal identity is continually reconstructed and idiosyncratically defined, a countervailing ideology of civil Judaism has developed which stresses the survival and solidarity of the Jewish people in such a “posttraditional” environment. This paper examines the meaningfulness of the themes of secular Judaism to a sample of New Zealand Jews who were interviewed at length about the nature of their Jewish identity. Secular Judaism seems to have had a very small impact upon them. I suggest that the difference between New Zealand and the United States and Australia, where secular Judaism is seen as an important ideological force, can be accounted for by the position of New Zealand’s small, mobile and markedly unobtrusive Jewish community, in a society which has been described as being aggressively secular and egalitarian.


Jewish Community Jewish Population Jewish Identity Contemporary JEWRY Jewish People 
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Copyright information

© Springer 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hal B. Levine
    • 1
  1. 1.Victoria UniversityWellington

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