Religious History of Liberation

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Religious History of Liberation

The texts in question correlate with one another based on the way they try to understand religion within the context of the American society. In the first text, Ozick, Plaskow, Goldstein, and Handelman attempt to establish a synthesis of the Jewish religion with feminist ideology in respect to present-day America. For the authors in question, it is simple to notice the extent to which they struggle to maintain their Jewish identity as well as culture in a society that has been inundated with secular and Christian values. An illustration of this involves the way Handelman examines the extent to which the observation of the respective religion has dwindled significantly within the American context (224). In this respect, the synagogue seems to act as the sole place whereby Jews can observe their religion – an aspect that Ozick utilizes to demonstrate the patriarchal rationales that differentiate women from men as far as the respective religion is concerned (Ozick 219).

Consequently, Banerjee offers a similar response when faced with the task of being a Hindu in a “highly individualistic [American] society” (465). Accordingly, Banerjee observes the conflict that Asian Hindus or “immigrants of faith” experience while living in a society whereby pluralistic and monotheistic values intertwine. Consequently, the notion of otherness depicted by Ozick and others is further reflected in Banerjee’s analysis of Hindu Americans and their difference from other Asian-Americans or Indian-Americans. For her, the difference between both groups lies in the way religion is observed between the respective groups. After all, for Hindu Americans, the focus is inclined towards the practice of a specific religion – Hinduism – within the American context (Banerjee 468). Due to the complex nature of the American society, Banerjee reasons that most Asian Hindus are conflicted in terms of the intricacies imposed on their religious identity as an outcome of the implications arising from the pluralistic yet individualistic temperament of the American society.

Alternately, the discourses raised across the texts are separated by an inclination towards different ideologies. In the first text, the authors focus on the extent to which the Jewish religion has consistently separated the woman from Jewish practices. As such, it is worth noting that the authors seem to concur on the patriarchal nature of the Jewish religion. In the first section of the article, Ozick argues that she is not recognized as a Jew in the only place designated for Jewish worship: the synagogue (219). Alternatively, Plaskow reflects on the separation of women from Jewish customs and practices by focusing on the patriarchal dimensions attached to God. According to the author, the Deity that is usually revered as a being unbound by conventions of gender is taught to all Jews via language that is clearly biased and selective (Plaskow 220). In essence, the Jewish religion seems to abide by male norms and mores that consistently assign a level of otherness to the women.

While Banerjee recognizes the otherness of Hindu Americans, she assumes a different position away from the feminist ideologies explored by Ozick and others. For her, the key issue involves maintaining her religious position while being part of a hegemonic society that consistently amalgamates religiously orthodox mores and secular values. In contrast to the aforementioned authors, Banerjee’s argument is centered on determining the approaches that American Hindus can implement in an effort to maintain their religious practices and customs while operating as a key part of the American society (469). Essentially, she focuses on the maintenance of religious identity for Hindus that live in America who are the “other” as far as other Asian-Americans are concerned. To this end, while both texts may relate in terms of maintaining the authors’ religious identity in present-day America, they differ due to the ideologies that they apply in trying to comprehend and elucidate the respective objective.

Works Cited

Banerjee, Aditi. “Hindu Americans: An Emerging Identity in an Increasingly Hyphenated World.” The Columbia Documentary History of Religion in America Since 1945, edited by Paul Harvey and Philip Goff, Columbia University Press, 2005, pp. 465-471.

Handelman, Shaina Sara. “Modesty and the Jewish Woman.” The Columbia Documentary History of Religion in America Since 1945, edited by Paul Harvey and Philip Goff, Columbia University Press, 2005, pp. 223-224.

Ozick, Cynthia. “Excerpts from “Notes Toward Finding the Right Question”.” The Columbia Documentary History of Religion in America Since 1945, edited by Paul Harvey and Philip Goff, Columbia University Press, 2005, pp. 218-220.

Plaskow, Judith. “The Right Question is Theological.” The Columbia Documentary History of Religion in America Since 1945, edited by Paul Harvey and Philip Goff, Columbia University Press, 2005, pp. 220-221.

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