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And I Will Dwell in Their Midst

Orthodox Jews in Suburbia

By Etan Diamond

240 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 9 illus., 4 tables, 9 maps, 1 fig., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4889-0
    Published: October 2000
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-6815-7
    Published: December 1969

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Awards & distinctions

2001 Certificate of Commendation, Heritage Toronto Awards

"Suburbia may not seem like much of a place to pioneer, but for young, religiously committed Jewish families, it's open territory." This sentiment--expressed in the early 1970s by an Orthodox Jew in suburban Toronto--captures the essence of the suburban Orthodox Jewish experience of the late twentieth century. Although rarely associated with postwar suburbia, Orthodox Jews in metropolitan areas across the United States and Canada have successfully combined suburban lifestyles and the culture of consumerism with a strong sense of religious traditionalism and community cohesion. By their very existence in suburbia, argues Etan Diamond, Orthodox Jewish communities challenge dominant assumptions about society and religious culture in the twentieth century.

Using the history of Orthodox Jewish suburbanization in Toronto, Diamond explores the different components of the North American suburban Orthodox Jewish community: sacred spaces, synagogues, schools, kosher homes, and social networks. In a larger sense, though, his book tells a story of how traditionalist religious communities have thrived in the most secular of environments. In so doing, it pushes our current understanding of cities and suburbs and their religious communities in new directions.

About the Author

Etan Diamond, an American social historian, is a senior research associate with The Polis Center at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
For more information about Etan Diamond, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"Diamond's analysis is appealing for the way he confronts a number of popular myths."--Journal of Jewish Education

"The most thorough and analytically adept attempt to comprehend the interactions between Orthodox Jewry and suburban living, And I Will Dwell in Their Midst is a commendable addition to modern North American Jewish history and community studies."--Journal of American History

"Should appeal to a wide audience, and to the interested lay reader as well as to the academic specialist. Scholars in the disciplines and topic areas of modern history, sociology, anthropology, urban geography, religion, ethnicity, and Jewish Studies will be . . . rewarded by its insights and information."--American Historical Review

"[The development of vibrant Orthodox Jewish centers] is trenchantly analyzed and portrayed in Diamond's model social history."--Sh'ma Book Review

"Despite dire predictions about declining religious attachment, And I Dwell in Their Midst reveals that traditionalist faith can and does thrive in the suburbs."--American Jewish History

"This study is as readable as it is insightful. It is of interest to anyone concerned with the state of religion in North America today--especially those who imagine Orthodoxy to be a vestige of our crumbling inner cities."--Choice