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Devotions and DesiresHistories of Sexuality and Religion in the Twentieth-Century United States$
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Gillian Frank, Bethany Moreton, and Heather R. White

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469636269

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469636269.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 16 September 2021

Purity and Population

Purity and Population

American Jews, Marriage, and Sexuality

(p.54) Purity and Population
Devotions and Desires

Rebecca L. Davis

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter’s discussion of American Jewish marriage shows that how religion and sexuality have shaped one another, often very profoundly. Jewish investment in marriage in the twentieth century shaped the ways in which Jewish Americans practiced and valued their faith. In turn, the religious investment in marriage, by Jews and other people of faith, contributed to national conversations about the sanctity and value of marital stability. Religious individuals and institutions therefore played central roles in the promotion of the modern categories of heterosexuality and homosexuality through their efforts to promote and sustain marriage. The history of religious investment in heterosexuality has featured Protestant and Catholic actors most prominently, and it was this dominant Christian context within which American Jews articulated and acted upon their ideas about marital sexuality. American Jewish religious leaders put concerns about marriage and the family at the center of their communal and spiritual work throughout the twentieth century. Jewish efforts to promote cultural continuity through marriage became agents of significant shifts in Jewish attitudes toward sexuality.

Keywords:   American Jewish marriage, Marital sexuality, Marital stability, Cultural continuity, Marriage, American Jews

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