69: American Judaism Beyond the Synagogue with Rachel B. Gross

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For this episode, we’re joined today by Rachel B. Gross to talk about nostalgia and lived religion in American Jewish life, which is the focus of her book Beyond the Synagogue: Jewish Nostalgia as Religious Practice.

Rachel B. Gross is Assistant Professor and John and Marcia Goldman Chair in American Jewish Studies in the Department of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University.

Listen in as we talk about a variety of ways in which American Jews connect to their past through nostalgia—through historical museums like the Eldridge Street Synagogue in New York’s Lower East Side, through genealogy, through children’s books and dolls, and through delis and other foodways. As Rachel explains, nostalgia actually offers a kind of lived religious practice, even if it is beyond the synagogue.

The 2013 Pew Research Center’s Portrait of Jewish Americans divided Jews into “Jews by religion” and “Jews of no religion.” Beyond the Synagogue asks us to rethink what is religion in American Jewish life and how it is that Jews access and interact with Judaism in a myriad of ways.

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