How flexible is kinship taxonomy in Jewish communities?

How flexible is kinship taxonomy in Jewish communities?

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Recently I read this article, which describes the flexible use of the word cousin in African-American and Latinx communities. It made me wonder: historically, have Jewish communities have had similarly flexible family taxonomies?

Converting from comment to answer:

Genesis 11:29 Mainstream medieval French Jewish commentator, Rashi, holds that Sarah (Abraham's wife) is the same as his niece, Iscah.

19:2 Abraham tells Abimelech that Sarah is his sister. (In a a similar incident,in Egypt, Abraham tells Sarah to say this, implying that it is a fabrication, or at least misleading)

20:12 Abraham justifies what he says as being technically true "And also, indeed, she is my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife."

Rashi comments:

… Now if you ask: Was she not the daughter of his brother? [The answer is that] grandchildren are considered like children (Tosefta, Yev. 8:8; Talmud Bavli, Yev. 62b); therefore, she was (considered as) Terah's daughter.

And so did he say to Lot, “For we are kinsmen” (אֲנָשִׁים אַחִים) [lit. men, brothers] (although, in fact, Lot was his brother Haran's son). - [from Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer, ch. 36]

Abraham is taking advantage of the loose meaning of the words "sister and brother" to avoid admitting to the King that he lied. At this point, Abraham has no fear of reprisal because the King only found out that something was amiss because God threatened him. Abraham has a big, bad, deity on his side. He could simply tell the king that he lied because the Philistines are a bunch of savages who would try to kill him to take his wife and then flip the King the bird and move his tent somewhere else.

In short: A universally regarded Jewish commentator from 1100 asserts, using older sources (approximately 1000 years older), that Abraham used the words brother and sister in broader terms. These older sources refer to even older traditions.

Hebrew in general, and biblical Hebrew especially are very metaphorical languages.

A well-known phrase is "כל ישראל אחים" meaning "All Israel are brothers". Essentially, the word for brother is easily and commonly used metaphorically to mean kinsman, or even more broadly. Two people in the same shelter can be said to be "brothers in their trouble". Some of these phrases, like "brothers in arms" have passed through into English as well.

As an aside, in modern Hebrew, Arab people are occasionally referred to as "cousins", because the tradition is that they are children of Ishmael, son of Isaac, whereas Jews are children of Jacob, Ishmael's younger twin. This makes the two peoples cousins.

Building on strengths: intergenerational practice with African American families.

Family networks, composed of several generations (three of more), have been a source of strength for African American families. Multigenerations providing support and care for family members and fictive kin (non-blood relatives) across the life course have been well documented (Billingsley, 1992 Billingsley & Morrison-Rodriguez, 1998 Hill, 1971, 1993, 1998, 1999 Martin & Martin, 1985 McAdoo, 1998 Schiele, 1996, 2000). Born out of African traditions and adaptation to a harsh environment, multigenerational families have persevered in the face of disparity and oppression spanning 400 years of slavery, years of "Jim Crow," and decades of segregation, marginalization, and intentional and unintentional racism (Christian, 1995). Despite these obstacles, people of African descent have a legacy of intergenerational kinship, resilience, spirituality, and hope (Bagley & Carroll, 1998 Denby, 1996). Multigenerational families and intergenerational kinships have played a significant role in preserving and strengthening African American families.

As our society ages, multigenerational families will be more common, resulting in longer years of "shared lives" across generations (Bengtson, 2001 Bengtson & Roberts, 1991). It has been predicted that there will be almost equal bands of older adults, middle generation adults, young adults, adolescents, and children as we move deeper into the 21st century (U.S. Census Bureau, 2004). This statistic holds true for African Americans. The numbers of African American elders, age 65 and older, are increasing. Between 1980 and 1995, the number of African Americans increased from 2.1 million to 2.7 million (a 29 percent increase). This group is expected to expand to 6.9 million by 2030 and 8.6 million by 2050 (Miles, 1999). Individuals are now more likely to grow older in four-, or even more, generation families spend an unprecedented number of years in family roles such as grandparent and great-grandparent and remain part of a network of intergenerational family ties (Bengtson, 2001 Bengtson, Rosenthal, & Burton, 1990 Hagestad, 1996 Riley, 1987). Kin, and non-kin, will be available to provide care and assistance to younger families (King, 1994 Silverstein, Parrott, & Bengtson, 1995) and caregiving for dependent elders (Bengtson et al., 1990). In view of the changing demographics, it is important to revisit cultural values regarding how families interact across generations.

Historically, cultural values, family practices, and strengths, such as special care for children and elders, kinship ties, and collectivism have been part of African American fife (Barnes, 2001). Hill (1971, 1999) wrote eloquently about five strengths of African American families: strong achievement orientation, strong work orientation, flexible family roles, strong kinship bonds, and strong religious orientation. Hill and others have pointed to strengths that are linked to history, culture, values, and cultural adaptations and suggested that building on these strengths is a good strategy for working with African American families (Freeman & Logan, 2004 Logan, 2001 McAdoo, 1998 McCullough-Chavis & Wakes, 2004 Staples, 1999). Strong kinship ties, intergenerational support, faith, and coming together during times of need have been effective resources for African American families.

Today's social environment, and the challenges individuals and families face, warrant use and revitalization of cultural strengths. Problems such as drug and alcohol addiction, overrepresentation of African American children in foster care, HIV and AIDS, health disparities, high rates of incarceration, unemployment, and poverty are severe and complex. Many individuals and families have demonstrated remarkable resilience others have suffered. Effective strategies to help families as they contend with pressing issues are rooted in African American cultural strengths. Cultural values and practices that sustained families in the past can be used to empower families today. Use of the power of intergenerational kinships and multigenerational family support can serve to preserve and strengthen vulnerable African American families.

Over the past 20 years, a number of practice approaches have been proposed for culturally competent practice with African Americans and other ethnic and racial groups. Strengths-based, empowerment-oriented, ethnically sensitive, constructionist, Afrocentric, and social justice frameworks have been used to guide practice with African American families. Such frameworks provide models by which social problems are assessed and intervention strategies are outlined. Many recognize multigenerational and extended family strengths. However, there is a need for an approach that builds on and restores the strengths of multigenerational families and intergenerational kinship. This approach may include restoring the influence of the extended family's multigenerational network so that relatives and fictive kin are encouraged to remain involved with family members and step forward to provide support and care. An Afrocentric, intergenerational solidarity approach that acknowledges the family life cycle, as well as the values and traditions that have sustained people of African descent, is a mechanism for promoting family closeness and responsibility. Embracing the legacies and wisdom of past generations and the hope and promise of the future is a framework for best practice. This article describes an intergenerational model that can be used to understand and provide support and assistance to African American families. The model defines families of African descent from an Afrocentric intergenerational perspective. It highlights the history and interconnectedness of African American families and communities and takes into account the temporal nature of the family life cycle.


An intergenerational perspective is relevant to social work practice with African American families. It brings an awareness of and attention to kinship, intergenerational relationships, and multigenerational families. Strengths, values, and practices that are transmitted across generations, family life cycle stages, intergenerational support, and current cultural context are central to this perspective (Waites, 2008). It provides a framework for understanding the past, exploring the current environment, and using culturally relevant strategies and practices to empower families.

Family relationships across generations are becoming increasingly important. Changes in family age structures are creating longer years of shared lives (Bengtson, 2001). Bengtson stated that "intergenerational bonds are more important than nuclear family ties for well-being and support over the life course" (Bengtson, 2001, p. 7).With increased longevity, parents, grandparents, and other relatives can be available to serve as resources for younger generations. Kin, across several generations, will increasingly be called on to provide essential family functions intergenerational support and care will increase over time.

Bengtson and his colleagues (Bengtson & Roberts, 1991 Bengtson & Schrader, 1982) provided a multidimensional construct for understanding intergenerational relationships. Derived from classical social theory, social psychology, and family sociology, their intergenerational solidarity model examines social cohesion between generations. The construct evolved from a longitudinal study consisting of a cross-sectional survey with more than 2,044 participants from three generational families. Data were collected at three intervals, including the great-grandchild generation. From this research, Bengtson and others (Bengston & Mangen, 1988 Bengston & Schrader, 1982 Roberts, Richards, & Bengtson, 1991) constructed an intergenerational solidarity taxonomy for understanding intergenerational relationships. These six elements provide a mechanism for understanding intergenerational relationships and are discussed later in greater detail.

An Afrocentric paradigm fits nicely with the intergenerational solidarity framework because it affirms human capacities and family and cultural strengths and promotes intergenerational connections. It presents a worldview that highlights traditional African philosophical assumptions, which emphasize a holistic, interdependent, and spiritual conception of people and their environment (Schiele, 2000).

The Afrocentric paradigm affirms that there are universal cultural strengths and an African worldview that survived the generational devastations caused by the transatlantic slave trade and the oppression that followed. As a result, it is important to understand and respect the customs, practices, and values that are central to African American families and communities. These cultural strengths, as previously described, can be used in micro, meso, and macro interventions to enhance the lives of all people, particular people of color (Schiele, 2000).

Families are at the heart of the intergenerational perspective. Families have shared history and futures (Carter & McGoldrick, 1999) they move through time together. The sharing of history and futures and the moving through time together are often referred to as family life cycle stages. Theses stages have been identified as leaving home, single young adults,joining of families through marriage, the new couple, families with young children, families with adolescents, launching children and moving on, and families in later life (Carter & McGoldrick, 1999). Relationships with parents, siblings, grandparents, and other family members experience transitions as each group moves along the family life cycle. Multiple family units are formed (for example, families with young children and families in later life), and all are a part of the larger multigenerational family. In this respect, there is a temporal reality associated with multigenerational families, and the family life cycle provides some descriptive information regarding how families move across time.

The stages described by Carter and McGoldrick (1999) laid a foundation for understanding African American families and family life cycle stages. African cultural traditions, environmental realities, and the diversity of family forms--which evolved from cultural traditions and adaptations to hardships--are also relevant. They provide insights regarding intergenerational relationships and temporal stages. A legacy of strong intergenerational kinship, multigenerational families, and extended family networks is reflected in Hill's (1999) flexible family roles. For example, caregiving is an important value for African American families. Grandparents may step in to assist or raise a grandchild. A single parent may depend on support from parents, or grandparents, after a child is born. African American children raised by grandparents often feel filial obligations to care for parents and grandparents (Ruiz & Carlton-LaNey, 1999). Extended family may play important roles and provide support and care to young and older adult relatives. Multigenerations may live in the same residence and pool their resources. For African American families, the family life cycle stages have significant intergenerational patterns of assistance and care that are reciprocal over time. These intergenerational supports, in some cases, may be in need of validation, nurturing, and revitalization to strengthen and support troubled families (Waites, 2008).


The Afrocentric intergenerational practice model presented here builds on the solidarity construct and the Afrocentric paradigm. It acknowledges the diversity and flexibility of the family life cycle and brings attention to traditions and cultural influences, specifically, caregiving, kinship bonds, the interconnectedness of families, and extended families. It reflects an approach that respects and supports the strengths and resilience of intergenerational kinship. This practice model's basic principles promote a society that values all generations and

* recognizes that each generation has unique strengths--each person, young and older, is a resource

* recognizes the roles of youths, middle generations, and elders in families and communities

* acknowledges conflicts that may occur in intergenerational relationships

* encourages collaboration and support across generations

* fosters intergenerational kinship and interdependence

* fosters public policy that recognizes and ad dresses the needs of all generations

* supports and nurtures family and cultural strengths.

This model is culturally responsive in that it uses strategies that are compatible with culturally competent practice and transforms knowledge and cultural awareness into interventions that support and sustain healthy family functioning (McPhatter, 1997 Waites, Macgowan, Pennell, Carlton-LaNey, & Weil, 2004).

Afrocentric Intergenerational Solidarity Model

The Afrocentric intergenerational solidarity model consists of six solidarity elements and provides indicators of intergenerational cohesion. The infusion of an Afrocentric worldview provides culturally relevant issues, questions, and empowerment-oriented strategies. The first element, associational solidarity, focuses on the type and frequency of contact between generations (see Table 1). Examining the amount and nature of intergenerational contact is at the forefront. Within an Afrocentric worldview, assessing family traditions and history regarding communication is important. Once information is obtained, a process of nurturing, reinforcing, and revitalizing contact and communication among family members can be undertaken. Intergenerational communication may go beyond phone calls traditions such as Sunday dinners, regular family visits, family reunions, special events, and other celebrations are mechanism for connections. Intergenerational communication can lead to strong supportive networks and enhance the amount and quality of intergenerational contact.

The second element, affectional solidarity, addresses the expressed closeness, warmth, and trust found in intergenerational kinships. The indicators call for the practitioner to look at emotional ties to family and community, signs of intergenerational conflict, and the overall reciprocity of positive sentiment among family members and across generations. With an Afrocentric view, affiliations with and sentiments toward the extended family, and the African American community as a whole, must also be explored. The goal is to assess and address the issues of affection, trust, and closeness and to support and nurture relational understanding and reciprocity across generations.

The third element, consensual solidarity, looks at agreements of values and beliefs. The indicators call for an assessment of intrafamilial concordance. Assessing the transmission and agreement of Afrocentric values, beliefs, and traditions, as well as the cultural strengths, enhances the cultural relevance of practice. Understanding family members' generational differences and their willingness to build intergenerational respect, dialogue, and collaboration is also important. The model suggests that practitioners encourage the understanding and recognition of cultural strengths. In addition, attempts should be made to support family and extended family as they engage in history reminding, consciousness raising, and intergenerational understanding and respect.

The fourth element,functional solidarity, addresses the frequency of intergenerational exchanges of assistance and resources. The indicators direct the assessment of help giving and receiving and how families assist and support each other. The role of collectivism, extended family support, and community support from churches, lodges, fraternal orders, and so forth are also assessed. Mechanisms to support equable intergenerational care and the use of formal and informal resources are suggested. This may include extended family, fictive kin, church family, intergenerational programs, or other community resources.

Normative solidarity, the fifth element, looks at filial responsibility and obligations. The indicators are family roles and the strength of obligation to those roles. The Afrocentric worldview expands this sense of obligation not only to parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren, but also to the extended family, fictive kin, and the community as a whole. Intergenerational family and extended family support, and the use of community programs and formal resources, are encouraged.

The sixth and last element, structural solidarity, highlights the opportunity for intergenerational interaction as it relates to residential propinquity. For example, some older adults reside with their children or grandchildren in coresidential situations or in the same community. This arrangement affords them great intergenerational access. Some families, however, may move far away and relocate due to employment opportunities elsewhere. Older adults may be unable to travel to family or community events due to distant locations, health issues, or limited access to convenient and affordable transportation. Both latter situations affect opportunities to maintain close contact. The empirical indicators focus on the residential proximity of family members, the number of family members, and health and disability issues.Afrocentric worldviews expand this element so that migration patterns, transportation issues, and travel distances are included. The empowerment strategy focuses on helping families rethink how to address structural proximity barriers. This could take the form of family members organizing and sharing transportation resources or establishing a family "home place" or location where family members can gather for respite, celebrations, and support.

This model is not complicated and can be used in harmony with other empowerment-oriented approaches. A culturally appropriate assessment of intergenerational issues and resources is conducted. Practitioners are directed to explore each of the intergenerational solidarity elements with family members using the practice strategies outlined in Table 2.

Associational solidarity is explored by asking family members questions about their family traditions and how they communicate and keep in touch with each other. Family solidarity is enhanced when there are traditions, activities, and history that serve to keep family members connected--for example, Sunday dinners at a relative's home, regular phone calls, church or religious service attendance, family reunions, birthday celebrations, or Christmas or other holiday activities. The practitioner can work with family members to use a variety of practice strategies (outlined in Table 2) to help family members improve their associational solidarity. This might include encouraging family members to plan and or participate in family events. Participation in family events can lead to more cross-generational communication and contact.

Affectional solidarity questions are posed to family members by first exploring whom they feel particularly close to and why. Helping family members understand their traditions regarding family roles and relationships and how they influence affectional solidarity is an important practice strategy. Affectional solidarity can be nurtured by encouraging a sense of intergenerational kinship-that is, affection for family and extended family members. It encompasses cultivation of intergenerational relationships. The practitioner role is to aid family members in identifying and developing closer ties.

Consensual solidarity is also important and can be explored by discussing family values and by affirming a shared vision for family life. Exploring family members' perceptions and generation differences and similarities provides information regarding family solidarity. Gauging the family's sense of cultural pride and their African American identify is also pertinent. Cultural pride can serve as a unifying force for family solidarity. History reminding to facilitate appreciation of family cultural strengths is appropriate as a practice strategy and might include providing information about cultural history, supporting family opportunities to share thoughts and information about cultural values and beliefs, and engaging family members in activities that will enhance cultural pride. Communities often have Kwanzaa celebrations, concerts, and religious-related programs watch movies and videos read books or engage in culturally inspired storytelling activities. These resources can serve as activities and information that connect the generations and facilitate consensual solidarity.

Functional solidarity is assessed by identification of the "go-to" family members when someone needs assistance. It is also important to identify family roles and resources and how support and care are exchanged across the family and the generations. The practice strategy is to create or restore the family helping network and involves helping family members to embrace shared responsibility and intergenerational support and care for all family members.

Normative solidarity is assessed by exploring expectations regarding family roles. It is also crucial to discuss what happens when someone is not able to perform the designated role. What are the family norms for who should step in? The practice strategy is to affirm, strengthen, and formalize the family members' commitment to one another. This may take the form of encouraging the development of multigenerational networks where children, parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles all play a role in supporting and caring for family members. Because this responsibility can be demanding, connecting families with community resources such as family support programs, support groups for caregivers, and other programs that serve to strengthen families and extended family helping is crucial.

Structural solidarity is explored by assessing family proximity. Some families use the home of a family member to gather for celebrations or other rituals: It is their home place. Other families do not have a central location, and some family members may live great distances from the family core of the home place. The role of the practitioner is to help family members explore proximity issues and overcome barriers to traveling and visiting with relatives. This help might include pooling of resources so that all family members can attend the family reunions, church or religious services, and health and wellness care. Providing assistance to families in the use of strategies to support involvement in family and extended family activities could help family members to visit and stay connected.

Use of this model involves the exploration of all solidarity elements. Family members and families may show strengths in a specific area. If not, the practitioner can then use one or all of the strategies suggested in the Practice Strategy sections of Table 2. To follow are three vignettes that present contemporary family issues and suggested strategies.

Vignette One. Denise is a 32-year-old African American single, divorced mother who is trying to cope with caregiving for both her son and her grandmother. Denise's nine-year-old son, David, has been referred to the school social worker due to excessive absences from school. Her 69-year-old grandmother had a stroke, six months ago, and is now residing with Denise and her son David and her 14-year-old daughter. Denise is distraught because her maternal grandmother was "the strong one in the family." All solidarity elements must be assessed. However, there is a pressing need for support and assistance for Denise and her family. This calls for focusing first on normative and functional solidarity. The worker can help Denise examine her current caregiving roles. It is also important for the worker to discuss Denise's decision to care for her grandmother--What is her sense of obligation and commitment to this role? Once Denise has explored her caregiving values, beliefs, the realities of her situation, and her intentions, she and the practitioner can develop a plan. This might include exploring family resources, the availability of other family and extended family members for support and caregiving, and more formal resources.

Vignette Two. Mr. Brown is an 84-year-old African American, retired Navy civilian dock worker. His wife of 47 years died 14 years ago after a battling cancer for four years. His only son died in an accident 22 years ago. Mr. Brown has two granddaughters, ages 30 and 32, and one great-grandson, age 9. They talk on the phone occasionally, but his granddaughters and great-grandson live 2,000 miles away, and he has not been able to visit them. Mr. Brown reports that he is "lonely" and is considering moving into an assisted-living facility. He wants to reconnect with his family before he moves. All the solidarity elements must be assessed. Immediate issues appear to be Mr. Brown's expressed loneliness and his infrequent contact with his granddaughters and great-grandson. This calls for focusing on associational, affectional, and structural solidarity. The worker can help Mr. Brown make contact with his granddaughters and with other family members, especially those family members who have been supportive in the past. Mechanism to maintain communication should also be explored. This may consist of organizing regular visiting, where transportation is arranged for Mr. Brown. It could also mean arranging regular phone contact, sharing pictures, and sending cards. Mr. Brown may also benefit from more contact with other family, extended family, and friends from church or any groups that he has participated in over his life course (for example, lodges, fraternal orders, church clubs, civic groups). Also, intergenerational programs, if available, may also be a good resource.

Vignette Three. Joan, a 41-year-old African American woman, is incarcerated because of a drug-related charge. She is in the second year of a three-year sentence and is now drug free. She has three sons, ages 19, 12, and 10. The two youngest sons reside with their paternal grandmother. Joan's oldest son has lived with her mother most of his life. Joan has not seen her sons in two years. The younger children's father died in a car accident he was driving while impaired. Joan is very concerned about her sons and wants to provide a better life for them. She hopes to arrange visitation, and, so far, her younger son's grandmother has been uncooperative. Her 19-year-old son has refused to visit. Although all solidarity elements should be assessed first, this situation points to affectional and consensual solidarity problems. Joan must be aware that her addiction and past behaviors may have caused apprehension and skepticism on the part of her family. As the practitioner helps Joan to make contact with her children, it will be important for him or her to engage the family in forgiveness, relationship building, and reaffirming of a shared vision across generations for the health and well-being of the children and family. The kinship bonds are in need of revitalization.

In view of contemporary issues facing families and the significance of multigenerational families, culturally relevant models of practice are called for. African American multigenerational families have a legacy of resilience, spirituality, and hope that has served to fortify vulnerable members. As our society ages, the number of multigenerational families will increase, and intergenerational cohesion issues will move to the forefront. This demographic shift, and the opportunity for shared lives, can be an asset for families. An empowerment-oriented framework that provides a mechanism to build on cultural strengths, intergenerational kinship, and support processes by which generations can provide mutual assistance and care during times of need is indicated. This model is a good step in that direction. Many aspects of this model have been a part of culturally responsive work with African American families.

The Afrocentric intergenerational sodality model is a strengths-based approach that works to empower multigenerational families and intergenerational relationships. In this regard, there is an assumption that families and extended families have strengths and that some form of intergenerational kinship can be nurtured. A shortcoming of this model is that the full application of each solidarity component has not been systematically tested. I plan to apply this model to practice interventions and intergenerational programming.

The Afrocentric intergenerational practice model shows promise. Building on Bengtson and others' intergenerational solidarity construct, infused with an Afrocentric worldview, this model provides a culturally relevant approach for work with African American multigenerational families. It facilitates an understanding of how intergenerational relationships can be supported and provides multidimensional guidance regarding intergenerational relationships and multigenerational families. The intergenerational model considers generational transmission from a strengths perspective, looking not only at problems, but also at the assets that multiple generations may provide. It is a framework that taps into the power, resilience, and capital from past and current traditions and relationships. The three vignettes provide examples of how this model might be used. To fully examine this model, additional applications should be studied.

Application of the Afrocentric intergenerational practice model, in conjunction with other empowerment-oriented approaches, is a best practice method. Social workers are called on to work with African American and other families. This work is especially relevant for work with vulnerable African American families in need of nurturance and care. As our society ages, it will be increasing important to understand intergenerational issues and develop resources that help multigenerational families navigate the complex and changing relationships and problems in our contemporary society. As we move through this century, this model may prove to be very relevant to the changing demographics of our aging society.

Original manuscript received May 7, 2007

Final revision received January 23, 2009

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About Temple Beth Chai

Temple Beth Chai strives to develop Jewish people, children and adults, families and singles, who have a love and pride in being Jewish, a positive Jewish identity, a strong understanding and application of Jewish Ethics, History, Practices and Spirituality, knowledge and appreciation of the Hebrew language kinship with Israel: the motivation to pursue lifelong Jewish learning, and a personal relationship with God.

Temple Beth Chai was founded by our spiritual leader, Rabbi Jonathan Kaplan, in December of 2003.

Temple Beth Chai is a liberal, independent Congregation not affiliated with any one movement of Judaism. We are a synagogue open to all who wish to celebrate the Jewish traditions. Whether it is the singing of the opening melodies and lighting of Shabbat candles which commences our Friday Night Services or the Oneg (mini-feast), which follows immediately thereafter, our spiritual community is welcoming to all.

Our service is a diverse blend of Hebrew and English readings, traditional and contemporary melodies, communal and individual Prayers thoughtfully and strategically woven to involve all attending congregants.

Born out of the awareness that the traditional “brick and mortar” synagogues were not fulfilling the needs of the community, Temple Beth Chai is inviting, accessible and engaging.

This is the creation of the efforts of Rabbi Kaplan, whose dream became a reality. TBC’s members span many age groups with varied backgrounds, which include Jewish and interfaith beliefs.

In the five years since our birth, our monthly Friday evening “Kabbalat Shabbat” attendance has grown from 40 to over 200 people. We hope that through the sharing of positive experiences with one another, including your circle of family and friends that we will continue to grow even stronger.

“It is up to us to create and keep our community.”

Spiritual Leadership

Rabbi Jonathan Kaplan is an independent Modern Rabbi. He is a graduate of the Rabbinical Seminary International, receiving his rabbinic ordination (smeicha) on May 1, 1994. Rabbi Kaplan is known for his creative and meaningful life-cycle ceremonies that he performs throughout Florida, the United States and the Caribbean.

  • Police Chaplain for the Coral Springs Police and Fire Depts.
  • Member of the International Conference of Police Chaplains
  • Member of The Rabbinical Fellowship of America.
  • Affiliate member of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC).
  • A founding member of the International Federation of Rabbis (IFR).

Rabbi JK provides the following services:

Traditional or Interfaith Weddings

Mazel Tov and Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! Just as each bride and groom is unique, so should their wedding ceremony. The ceremony is all about the union of two hearts and making an everlasting promise.

Rabbi Jonathan takes pride in personalizing each and every wedding ceremony resulting in the most meaningful and beautiful creation specifically for you. Interfaith couples are warmly welcomed by Rabbi Jonathan as his soothing and understanding approach offers comfort to many mixed faith couples. He is flexible to your needs and familiar to your Religious beliefs which puts you at ease and eliminates any questions. Interfaith ceremonies are just one of the many customized memories attained with Rabbi Jonathan’s unique ways. Whether your needs be Traditional or Liberal, he will assist and achieve in setting the tone for the memory of a lifetime.“When the food and music are forgotten, the ceremony will be long remembered by all.”

Bar/Bat Mitzvahs

Bar/Bat Mitzvah embraces two concepts: Bar meaning son, Bat for daughter, and Mitzvah meaning commandment.
At the age of 13 for boys and 12 for girls, they reach an age where they assume the ritual obligations and privileges under Jewish law. Becoming a full-fledged member of the Jewish religion is a very important milestone, so much so that this ceremony becomes a pinnacle in their young life a memory forever. Rabbi Jonathan’s calming personality lends the necessary “comfort zone” that is essential for proper preparation for each student.Confidence and calmness is most prevalent within the first few minutes of meeting with Rabbi Jonathan.

A family is rest assured that as their young child enters their Jewish adulthood, they will also mature to gain knowledge, poise, and confidence for their upcoming Simcha. Any family that is requesting such a ceremony may do so, even if their child may not be enrolled in any Hebrew School or may not have had any prior Religious School Education. Private tutoring is available for any student, which spans over a period of 10-12 months. It begins with the learning of the Hebrew Alef-Bet and concludes with this young Jewish adult reading from the Torah during his/her Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Rabbi Jonathan offers his personalized, meaningful ceremonies at the location of your choice. Whether it be in a banquet hall, hotel, country club or in your own home, this warm and musical ceremony will be a “once in a lifetime” memory.

Baby/Child Namings

To hold a newborn in our arms is to behold a miracle.

We begin the journey of parenthood in celebration. There are foods to be prepared, people to be called, announcements to be made and invitations to be extended. The family is swaddled in attention and rituals. A private matter becomes a communal event, for at the celebration the child, the family and the people of the community are bound together as one. Family and friends gather as the ceremony unfolds and becomes a beauty of its own. Rabbi Jonathan offers baby naming services, ritually acknowledging a child’s entry into God’s Holy Covenant while enabling the parents to proclaim publicly the child’s name. Parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, grandparents and all friends gather with the same thought, “Please guide their steps. And protect this child throughout life.” Rabbi Jonathan will personalize a warm and intimate baby naming ceremony at the location of your choice or at our Friday Night Shabbat Services.

Funerals/Memorial Services

Healing happens slowly, over the course of time. When a loved one dies, no matter what the person’s age or circumstances, the family is often in shock. Their lives have been turned upside down. Their hurt is fresh and their wound is deep. Rabbi Jonathan offers his many years of experience counseling families during this most difficult time in their lives. He meets with family members to discuss issues in depth and attempts to gather as much information prior to writing his eulogy for the departed. He speaks words of comfort to the family of the departed, detailing the positive attributes, signature ways and legacy of the deceased. Younger generations may learn of their departed family member with a more in-depth service that is provided by Rabbi Jonathan. His services create a warm, calming and spiritual emotion felt amongst all in attendance. Rabbi Jonathan offers a true honor and tribute that your family member deserves.

He has also lent his beautiful voice and guitar playing to B’nai Mitzvah and Wedding ceremonies. Andy has more than 25 years of experience as a song leader and been affiliated with numerous synagogues in both Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. He was a member of JNF’s National Performing Artists’ Troupe, on staff for over 20 years at various JCC and BBYO Summer Camp programs, and twice attended HAVA NASHIRA, the National Song Leaders Institute sponsored by the Reform Movement. He is also a member of the Folk Club of South Florida ( Dade ) and Broward Folk Club.

As an outgrowth of his background in Education and Social Work, Andy worked for over a decade with “At-Risk” teenagers at an alternative high school program in Miami While the focus there was primarily on academics, Andy did manage to bring an occasional song into the mix, which helped to keep the kids motivated.

Andy considers himself to be an eclectic Jew, gleaning from all movements and ‘Schools of Thought’ . His goal is the creation of a meaningful service that speaks to the heart, mind and soul of our congregation. His repertoire includes a blend of Traditional Hazzanut, Israeli Folk, Traditional American Folk & Contemporary “Pop”/American Jewish Folk melodies. In the Spring 2010, he will be releasing his first, full length, CD entitled,

‘The Megiddo Project – A Prayer Journey’.
( Debut Album 2010 )
Communicating the joy of Judaism and Spirituality through music, imagery and text
954-471-3697 [email protected]

It is a contemporary celebration of liturgy presenting a blend of JAZZ, FOLK, POP, ROCK and WORLD BEAT melodies. A lifetime in the making, friends have commented that the music touches their heart and soul. Andy can be reached at [email protected]

Our Children are the Future!

We must provide for them, nurture them and educate them with the best knowledgeable approach.

And, it was for solely for them, that I challenged myself 14 years ago to succeed in what we offer to your children today.

The TBC Religious School Staff and I promote a warm family atmosphere for every student and their family from the moment they walk through our doors.

We pride ourselves on our unique approach in modern day Judaic Education which makes us quite “unique.”

Our curriculum covers Hebrew, Holidays, Tradition, Heritage, Bible Israel and the spirituality of God united with our personal experiences and stories to keep the programs very interesting.

But, the pinnacle of our success equates to the comprehension and acquisition of the following:


The goal of the project - to clarify who among Edelstein are relatives, and who are namesakes.

Her first owners were immigrants from Eastern Europe - Ashkenazi (the so-called Eastern European Jews). Ashkenazim constitute the vast majority of the Jewish population of Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Kurland, Bessarabia and the Kingdom of Poland.

Hereditary surnames in that time was not. Each had only his name, to which the official documents could be added the name of the father. In addition, the name is being specified the birthplace of man, the name of his mother or wife. It existed only one generation and not hereditary.

In the early 19th century the Jews were obliged to acquire the names of any of the tax authorities or to the census, or for military service. In some countries, Jews restricted in the choice of names, names of officials embezzled.

Today is a common surname Edelstein, its carriers live in different countries (USA, Canada, Israel, Russia). Are all the modern Edelstein combine family ties?

Edelstein: namesakes or relatives - III 22.05.2016 (update 07.01.2017)

For the time being the communication through social networking and genealogical services resulted in summarizing the information on 39 persons under Edelshtein (Eidelshtein) surname who know their ancestors’ place of origin. However, the people whose kinship through direct male line was genealogically confirmed failed to be included. Contrariwise, the information on kinship with Edelshtein through the female line – once there were data on the origin from the Edeshtein’s line- was duly reviewed. Let me specify from the very beginning that Edelshtein and Eidelsjtein is one and the same surname being differently transcribed in the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets from the Yiddish.

The analyses revealed 24 persons to originate from Ukraine, 4 from Poland, 4 from Latvia, 2 from Lithuania, 2 from Byelorussia, 2 from Russia, 4 from Romania/Moldavia/Bessarabia. It is worth noting that this statistics is rather provisional since upon review there were taken into consideration the contemporary borders rather than those used to be in the XIX or early XX centuries. Therefore- but for a couple of exclusions- the stated geography reflects the settlements in the Russian Empire typical for all the Jewish, as well as the historically established high density of Jewish communities in Galicia being at that time a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

One may highlight three independent Edelshtein branches from Ovruch, Zhitomir Region (buy the way, the great-grandfather of Yuliy Edelshtein, an Israel politician, originates from Moshli village, Ovruch District) which, apparently, are unware of each other, and two branches from Sinelnikovo, Dnepropetrovsk Region. The Kostopol-Rovno-Olevsk-Sarnu-Gorodnitsa Cluster may be highlighted separately and due to small distances may be reviewed as a single integration given the sibling connections among the Edelsteins who originate from these regions.

It is true that there are neither genealogical nor genetic data justifying the kinship of all or separate Edelsteins mentioned above. As I’ve already written, that brothers, fathers and sons were considered only once, and one reviewed only persons not being formally related through ancestral lineage.

Currently we have the data of 13 DNA tests. Two of them were made by 23&Me, and the rest by FTDNA and by YSEQ under the Edelstein DNA Project. Reverting to Y-chromosome test findings (Y-chromosome is inherited without any changes by son from his father and therefore may be used as a genealogical marker of the direct kinship through the male line):

  • The Edelsteins from Latvia – two different haplogroups of Y-chromosome: E-Y6923 (Daugavpils) and J2b2* (Riga)
  • The Edelsteins from Romania (unfortunately, no more details) - G-M377
  • The Edelsteins from Iasi, Romania - J1a-ZS241
  • The Edelsteins from Bessarabia (unfortunately, no more details) - I2c (I2c-BY2808)
  • The Edelsteins from Poland (unfortunately, no more details) - E-Y6923 and J1e (aka J1-P58)
  • The Edelsteins from Kakhovka, Ukraine (my line) - Q1b (Q-Y2750)
  • The Edelsteins from from Stryj, Ukraine - R1b (R-Y19847)
  • The Edelsteins from Rovno, Ukraine - E-PF1975
  • The Edelsteins from Mukachevo, Ukraine - J1-P58
  • The Edelsteins from Ovruch, Ukraine - J1 (no details)
  • The Edelsteins from Kovno, Lithuania - E-V22

Thus, all Y-chromosome tested Edelsteins (even from one city) failed to be relatives to one another through the direct male line. Reasons: It is true that one should not exaggerate the rarity of Edelstein surname. Of course, we are not the Ivanovs or the Smirnovs….But when the Jewish were granted with a surname, apparently, the Edelstein surname was very popular due to harmony of its sounding. The people originally being named with this surname might not be relatives. In genealogy this is called as NPE (Non-paternity event). Main reasons: adoption of children who were assigned with the parents’ surname marital infidelities (notwithstanding the high level of moral typical for that time we cannot exclude this either). Please see details here (in English):

Therefore I think that any further genealogical searches in respect of the Edelsteins may be feasible in case of two options: Given there are several Edelsteins whose ancestors originate from one place or areas located close to one another. The test findings may prove or refute their kinship. Of course, every time I hope for the kinship to be justified :) Given the person fails to have any reliable genealogical information on the place of his/her ancestors’ origin. The test findings- as compared to the available data on the performed tests- may be used to state the place of their common ancestors’ living.

Three disclaimers: All stated above relate to those being interested. Once genealogy is beyond the scope of your interests, please forgive me for your disturbing. I am not commercially interested in this issue. I’m privately motivated to find the information on my ancestors, and I’m curious and feel responsible before those with whom I’ve already started to communicate thereupon. If a person is tested, but the finding differs from the mine (this situation is currently very typical in respect of all persons), we continue to communicate, and are committed to find the roots of his/her Edelsteins together. The information I get through private communications will not be disclosed unless the contrary is agreed by the addressee. Once there is a principal position that the search for any relatives with common ancestors is beyond the scope of anyone’s interest, please, do not hesitate to promptly inform me thereabout. On the contrary, if you are interested and subject to your agreement, I will inform the persons whose ancestors used to live in the same place, of their possible kinship. You will take any further decisions – to proceed or drop the subject - independently.

As for any further testings. Please see Edelstein DNA Project at Family Tree DNA - In case of initial testing, I would recommend Y-12 test (12 markers of Y-chromosome). The cost (delivery included) is circa 71 USD. The similar test may be ordered with YSEQ. The advantage of the first company: due to personality of its founder (Bennett Greenspen), the company is mainly focused on the Jewish genealogy. There is even a respective project:

The second company (YSEQ) has more attractive prices in case of any further tests, and more flexible attitude in liaison with its clients. Depending on the situation, I currently place orders with both companies. (The main reason: my hobby is not only genealogy but also the study of my Q1b haplogroup of which I wrote several articles. Please, see here: ).

I would be glad to answer to any of your questions both through group and private communications.

The Psychology of Moral Communities, Part 3 of 5: Race Differences in Personality

Race differences in personality explain the unique tendency of Whites to create moral communities where reputation is paramount. The critical role for reputation implies that we evaluate the personalities of group members and potential group members. A reputation as heartless, calculating, untrustworthy or selfish is not going to help one’s status in a moral community, whereas the opposite of these traits will be welcomed. Because of the long history of moral communities in the West, it is expected that research findings will show race differences in traits conducive to membership in a moral community.

As an introduction to discussing race differences in personality, I will briefly discuss an evolutionary theory of personality systems and how they relate to the psychiatric classification of psychopathic personality, the subject of Richard Lynn’s Race Differences in Psychopathic Personality which is discussed below.[1] Bear in mind that individual differences in all personality traits are heritable—approximately half of the variation between individuals in personality traits is attributable to genetic influences.[2]

Some Basic Personality Systems

The Behavioral Approach System (BAS). One set of traits that contributes to reputation within a group as well as to psychopathic personality relates to seeking reward collectively they are here labeled the Behavioral Approach System (BAS). Among even the most primitive mammals, there must be mechanisms designed to approach the environment to obtain resources, prototypically foraging and mate attraction systems. The BAS evolved from systems designed to motivate approach toward sources of reward (e.g., sexual gratification, dominance, control of territory) that occurred as enduring and recurrent features of the environments in which animals or humans evolved.[3] In the contemporary world, these reward mechanisms can be triggered not only by aspects of the environment humans evolved in, such as social dominance and mating situations, but also by things like synthetic drugs designed to trigger evolved reward centers. These reward systems overlap anatomically and neurophysiologically with aggression, perhaps because aggression is a prepotent way of dealing with the frustration of expecting a reward but not getting it.[4]

The mechanisms underlying the BAS show sex differences in accord with the evolutionary theory of sex, which predicts that on average males will be higher than females on the BAS system because they have more to gain by social dominance, aggression and control of resources than females.[5] This is because successful, socially dominant males are much better able than females to translate their success into reproductive success by attracting high-quality females, extra-pair copulations, and, in the vast majority of human societies, multiple mates. Fundamentally, males benefit by being able to control females much more than the reverse, since female reproduction is constrained by the demands of pregnancy and lactation. For example, by leading successful armies, Genghis Khan and his direct descendants were able to set up harems in areas they conquered, with the result that he now has around 32 million direct descendants spread throughout Asia. No female could do that in a similar time period given the limitations of pregnancy and lactation.

As a result, it’s no surprise that among human adults, behavioral approach is also associated with aggressiveness and higher levels of sexual experiences and positive emotions (e.g., emotions one feels when achieving social dominance or attaining goals).[6] , [7]

Relevant to psychopathic personality, there are evolutionarily expected sex differences in aggression, pleasure-seeking (including sensation-seeking), and externalizing psychiatric disorders (e.g., conduct disorder, oppositional/defiant disorder, and aggression). Moreover, the social interactions of boys are more characterized by dominance interactions and forceful, demanding interpersonal styles.[8] On the other hand, females are more prone to depression which is associated with low levels of behavioral approach.[9] In fact, anhedonia (lack of ability to experience pleasure) and negative mood are primary symptoms of depression within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) classification.[10]

The Love/Nurturance Pair Bonding System. In Chapter 3 it was argued that Western populations are more inclined to value the traits of love/nurturance in prospective mates as an aspect of individualist mating patterns and, ultimately, because of the need to cement close family relationships and paternal investment in the harsh environments that northern hunter-gatherers evolved in. Unlike kinship-based societies, marriage is exogamous and based at least partly on personal attraction, including personality characteristics like Love/Nurturance. This trait is also important for status within moral communities. Most people would not find cold-heartedness attractive in a potential marriage partner, nor would they desire cold-hearted people to be part of their moral community because such persons would tend to be untrustworthy and selfish. The following presents a fuller account of the Love/Nurturance system.

Mammalian females give birth and suckle their young. This has led to a host of adaptations for mothering, an outgrowth of which are pair-bonding mechanisms present also in males, although to a lesser extent on average.[11] For species that develop pair bonds and other types of close relationships involving nurturance and empathy, one expects the evolution of a system designed to make such relationships psychologically rewarding. The adaptive space of Love/Nurturance therefore becomes elaborated into a mechanism for cementing adult relationships of love and empathy that facilitate the transfer of resources to others, prototypically within the family.

The personality trait of Love/Nurturance is associated with relationships of intimacy and other long-term relationships, especially family relationships involving investment in children.[12] Individual differences in warmth and affection observable in early parent-child relationships, including secure attachments, are conceptually linked with Love/Nurturance later in life.[13] Secure attachments and warm, affectionate parent-child relationships have been found to be associated with a high-investment style of parenting characterized by later sexual maturation, stable pair bonding, and warm, reciprocally rewarding, non-exploitative interpersonal relationships.[14] The physiological basis of pair bonding involves specific brain regions underlying the ability to take pleasure in close, intimate relationships.[15] People who are high on this system are able to find intimate relationships psychologically rewarding and pleasurable and therefore seek them out, while psychopaths are prone to cold and callous personal relationships.

If indeed the main evolutionary impetus for the development of the human Love/Nurturance system is the need for high-investment parenting, females are expected to have a greater elaboration of mechanisms related to parental investment than males. The evolutionary theory of sex implies that females are expected to be highly discriminating maters compared to males and more committed to long-term relationships of nurturance and affection cues of nurturance and love in males are expected to be highly valued by females seeking paternal investment. In agreement with this theory, there are robust sex differences (higher in females) on the Love/Nurturance dimension.[16]

And because empathy is strongly linked to Love/Nurturance, this also implies that women will be more prone to being motivated by empathy for the suffering of others and pathological forms of altruism. In turn, this has important ramifications in the contemporary world saturated with images of suffering refugees, immigrants, and other non-Whites. Love/Nurturance involves the tendency to provide aid for those needing help, including children and people who are ill.[17] This trait is strongly associated with measures of femininity as well as with warm, empathic personal relationships and psychological dependence on others.

People who are low on Love/Nurturance are prone to psychopathic personality—exploitative interpersonal relationships, lack of warmth, love, and empathy, an inability to form long term pair bonds and close, confiding relationships, and lack of guilt or remorse for violating others’ rights. The finding that males in the general population are three times as likely as females to be categorized with Antisocial Personality Disorder[18] fits with the robust sex differences in this system. Psychopathic personality, which is characterized by lack of empathy and social bonds, is associated with having many sexual partners, an uncommitted approach to mating, sexual coercion,[19] many short-term sexual relationships, sexual promiscuity,[20] and lack of nurturance of children.[21]

In terms of race differences, the Love/Nurturance system is a central aspect of a slow life history strategy,[22] with the result that it is expected that African and African-derived populations will be less prone to affectionate pair bonding and paternal investment in children, and more prone to short-term sexual relationships. Indeed, while African mothers are sensitive and responsive to babies’ needs, mother-child interactions in prototypical African cultures are devoid of the warmth and affection that are typical in European cultures.[23] Thus Mary Ainsworth, a pioneer in mother-infant attachment research, found that Ugandan babies were quite securely attached despite the fact that their mothers rarely showed any affection toward them—a phenomenon also noted by other researchers for a different African group.[24]

Prefrontal Executive Control (PEC). Having a reputation as conscientious and dependable is important for being accepted in a moral community. A relatively recent trend in evolution, especially in the Primate line, has been the evolution of a centralized control system able to integrate and coordinate lower-level adaptations. This top-down Prefrontal Executive Control (PEC) system enables coordination of specialized adaptations, including all of the mechanisms associated with the BAS.[25] PEC involves explicit processing of linguistic and symbolic information and the top-down control of behavior. Unlike the automatic processing typical of the BAS, it is able to evaluate complex contexts in order to generate behavior that is adaptive in contemporary human societies with their constantly changing, highly complex environments and reward-punishment contingencies.

For example, emotional states resulting from adaptations designed to react to evolutionary regularities may place people in a prepotently aggressive state energized by anger—an emotional state that is one of the subsystems of the BAS. However, whether or not aggression actually occurs may also be influenced, at least for people with sufficient levels of PEC, by explicit evaluation of the wider context, including evaluation of the possible costs and benefits of an aggressive act (e.g., penalties at law, possible retaliation). These explicitly calculated costs and benefits are not recurrent over evolutionary time but are products of explicit processing evaluating current environments and producing mental models of possible consequences of behavior.

Individual differences in PEC are most closely associated with the personality trait of Conscientiousness.[26] Conscientiousness involves variation in the ability to defer gratification and pleasure (both related to the BAS) in the service of attaining long-term goals, persevering in unpleasant tasks, paying close attention to detail, and behaving in a responsible, dependable, cooperative manner. Not surprisingly, Conscientiousness is also associated with academic success[27] indeed, higher Conscientiousness is likely the reason for the finding of sex differences favoring females throughout the school years, including college.

Conscientiousness refers to “socially prescribed impulse control that facilitates task and goal-directed behavior”[28] and is thus central to understanding under-controlled behaviors associated with psychopathic personality.[29] Specifically, variation in PEC is central to understanding the difference between controlled and uncontrolled aggression—i.e., the difference between an impulsive act of aggression carried out in anger because of an insult versus a well-planned attack of revenge carried out in cold blood. Variation in PEC is also central to controlling reward-oriented behavior (pleasure-seeking), another central component of the BAS.[30] Individuals with low levels of prefrontal control are prone to impulsivity, substance abuse, and have low levels of emotional control, including relative inability to control anger, a prime motivator of some types of aggression.

Richard Lynn’sRace Differences in Personality:Whites as More Generous and Empathic thanOther Races

Richard Lynn’s Race Differences in Personality provides a welcome review of the personality literature related to race differences that fits well with the material on personality discussed above.[31] Studies from the United States have consistently found a rank ordering of races on behaviors related to psychopathic personality—highest in Blacks and Native Americans, followed by Hispanics, lower among Whites, and lowest among Asians, especially northeast Asians. The variables studied included conduct disorder, direct measures of psychopathic personality, measures of sexual promiscuity (indicating less proneness to pair bonding and being high on the BAS), Conscientiousness (Blacks vs. Whites only), criminality, school suspensions, emotional intelligence (Blacks vs. Whites only), drug and substance abuse, child abuse, and self-esteem (linked to the BAS: individuals high on the BAS are prone to high self-esteem and self-confidence.) In general, as with IQ, race differences are greatest between Whites and Blacks and much attenuated between Whites and northeast Asians.

Given the data on European individualism and its effects on mating patterns (highlighting the importance of love and pair bonding in choice of marriage partner compared to more kinship-oriented societies), I suggest that the differences between northeast Asians and Whites are best explained mainly by differences in Prefrontal Executive Control. The results for Blacks clearly indicate higher levels of the BAS, lower on Love/Nurturance, and lower on PEC.

Indeed, since the uniqueness of Western individualism is central to the present analysis, it’s important to note that Whites are more generous than Asians in terms of charitable donations, thus departing from the usual rank ordering of races on IQ and PEC. This is important because, as indicated above, the Love/Nurturance system is linked to altruism and empathic concern moreover, Love/Nurturance has been of special importance for the West because of two particular aspects of individualism:

  • Individual choice of marriage Love Nurturance is an important criterion for both sexes but especially for men seeking a monogamous marriage with a woman high on a trait linked to nurturance of children and sexual fidelity. On the other hand, marriage in collectivist cultures is more determined by customs of marrying relatives as well by family strategizing, with parents playing a determining role.
  • Reputation in a moral community. Reputation in a group of non-relatives depends partly on being seen as generous, cooperative, and unselfish. Being high on the Love/Nurturancesystem is linked with empathy for the suffering of others. Moreover, among individualists, because of the lack of strong group boundaries and because reputation within a moral community is so critical, empathy would be expected to be directed to others outside one’s own kinship group but within one’s moral community.

Congruent with this scenario, Lynn presents data showing that Whites are more willing to contribute charitable donations than all other groups, including Asians.[32]And again, I emphasize that this is especially noteworthy given that it departs from the usual rank ordering of racial groups based on life history differences. Empathy for suffering others was a striking aspect of the movements to abolish slavery in England and the United States (Chapters 6 and 7) and in the eighteenth-century “affective revolution” that fed into the sensibility on display in the Second British Empire (Chapter 7). Ultimately, this was an ethnic shift that brought to the fore the hunter-gatherer sensibility with its greater emphasis on egalitarianism and moral communities.

Finally, it was noted above that women are higher on Love/Nurturance and its emotion of empathy. As a result, it is not surprising that Lynn finds women are more generous than men indeed, White women are the most generous group of all, a finding that makes sense in light of the above comments on White women being more susceptible to appeals from suffering non-Whites, refugees, immigrants, etc.

Life History Theory

Nicholas Baumard has proposed a life history theory-based account of the fact that Britain was the first to develop the industrial revolution.[33] He points out that pre-industrial Britain was relatively wealthy compared to any other area of the world, including other parts of Europe. Although he does not attempt to explain why Britain was wealthy prior to the Industrial Revolution—usually dated as beginning around 1760, he recruits life history theory to propose that this increased wealth had a cascading effect on a number of psychological traits, including a tendency to have a longer time horizon (less time discounting), higher optimism, and higher levels of trust in others, all of which are proposed as paving the way for innovation.

The basic idea is that in a stable resource-rich environment, people are optimistic and plan for the future rather than behave impulsively since the struggle for subsistence is less salient, they are nicer to others and are less concerned with material goods. For example, he cites a study comparing Native American children with non-Native American children before and after a casino opened on tribal land. After the Native Americans received casino payments, there were reductions in criminal behavior, drug use, and behavioral disorders associated with poverty such as depression, anxiety, and oppositional disorders, as well as increases in the personality traits of Love/Nurturance and Conscientiousness described above.[34] In a similar manner, Baumard proposes that increased wealth in Britain led to an increase in these traits and that these in turn led to a flowering of innovation and technological progress.

Baumard’s theory contrasts with Gregory Clark’s theory in A Farewell to Alms which proposes natural selection for bourgeois virtues like Conscientiousness beginning in the early modern period.[35] While Baumard explicitly adopts a blank slate perspective, Clark’s theory is compatible with pre-existing genetically based variation in traits like Conscientiousness and IQ. More intelligent, conscientious people were able to rise in the new environment of the early modern period—an environment that unleashed the economic potential of individualism—and had more children, constituting natural selection for these traits.

Another theory based on selection has been proposed by Peter Frost and Henry Harpending based on the finding that penalties against violence increased dramatically beginning in the eleventh century, with up to two percent of males in each generation being subjected to capital punishment or dying in other ways related to their crimes.[36] This culling of violent males would have reduced the numbers of males at the high end of aggression and at the low ends of Conscientiousness and Love/Nurturance.

I regard all three of these proposals as contributing factors in European modernization however, by itself or in combination they are inadequate. Baumard’s blank slate proposal ignores the massive data on genetic variation in personality traits and intelligence. Frost and Harpending’s thesis would not explain why strong states in areas like China and Eastern and Southern Europe would not have had similar selective effects on these traits, so they cannot explain the uniqueness of northwestern Europe—its individualism, the vastly disproportionate number of discoveries and inventions, and its exploring and colonizing the planet. China’s penalties for serious crimes were particularly draconian, punishing entire families of the alleged perpetrator beginning at least by the fourth century B.C. and extending to the early twentieth century.[37]

Moreover, none of these theories discuss individualism as a necessary condition for European modernization, including the Industrial Revolution. As presented in Chapter 4, northwest Europe had a long history of individualist family structure long before the Industrial Revolution—indeed, its origins are lost in prehistory and I argue they are ethnically based. However, the creativity, innovation, and enterprise that would be the natural product of the individualism of northwestern European peoples was throttled by a non-meritocratic aristocratic social system until the English Civil War of the mid-seventeenth century and the gradual overthrow of aristocratic culture (Chapter 6).

As noted in Chapter 4, the individualist family pattern required greater planning and self-control (Conscientiousness) prior to marriage and resulted in a greater likelihood to exhibit what psychologists label “internal locus of control” (i.e., the degree to which people believe that they have control over the outcome of events in their lives, as opposed to a fatalistic perspective resulting from external forces beyond their control.) It’s no accident that the English word kismet has Arabic roots.

Individualist marriage also emphasized individual choice of marriage partner based on the personal characteristics of the spouse, including intelligence, Conscientiousness, and affection (Love/Nurturance). These traits are deemphasized when marriage is embedded within extended kinship networks where marriage is typically entered into with relatives and often determined by parental choice. In individualist culture, reputation in a moral community rather than a kinship-based community was critical, resulting in trust of non-relatives.

The Protestant Reformation, which succeeded only in northwest Europe, is critical. In particular, the English Civil War of the 1640s, which saw the triumph of egalitarian individualism and the beginnings of the end of aristocratic culture based on agriculture, a rigid status hierarchy, and inherited (non-meritocratic) status with very limited opportunities for upward mobility. This upheaval ultimately resulted in relative egalitarianism, the development of a market-oriented economy, industrialization, and opportunities for upward mobility and reproductive success for the intelligent and conscientious, as described by Clark’s A Farewell to Alms.

Baumard supposes that increasing wealth in China and Japan (neither of which ever developed anything like European individualism) would have resulted in an industrial revolution. This is conjecture, and does not take account of greater levels of conformity and relative lack of creativity and innovation in these cultures, despite increased wealth and continuing into the present.[38] As discussed in Chapter 3, Westerners are WEIRD people differing in a large number of psychological characteristics from people in collectivist cultures. As with the data on the individualist family, these findings are compatible with an ethnic interpretation of northwestern European uniqueness.

Finally, given that there has always been an affluent class in Europe and in other societies, in order to be plausible, Baumard’s theory that increased affluence is critical must argue that this process is essentially the result of an increased number of people who are affluent. This is conjecture. My view is that the destruction of aristocratic culture, by allowing the inherent egalitarian individualism of northwest Europeans to come to the fore, was the critical factor.

[1] Richard Lynn, Race Differences in Psychopathic Personality: An Evolutionary Perspective (Arlington, VA: Washington Summit Press, 2018).

[2] Robert Plomin, Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2018).

[3] Jeffrey A. Gray, The Psychology of Fear and Stress (2nd ed.) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987) Jeffrey A. Gray, The Neuropsychology of Anxiety: An Enquiry into the Functions of the Septo-hippocampal System (2nd ed.) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

[4] Jaak Panksepp, Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998),191.

[5] Kevin MacDonald, “Temperament and Evolution,” in Marcel Zentner and Rebecca L. Shiner (Eds.), Handbook of Temperament (New York: Guilford Press, 2012b): 273–296.

[6] Gray, The Neuropsychology of Anxiety.

[7] The BAS can also be seen in children where it is linked to impulsivity (i.e., seeking rewards without adequate attention to costs), “High Intensity Pleasure,” and aggressiveness. Children who score high on behavioral approach are prone to positive emotional responses, including smiling, joy, and laughter available in rewarding situations and in the pleasant social interaction sought by sociable children.

Mary K. Rothbart and John E. Bates, “Temperament,” in Handbook of Child Psychology, William Damon, Richard Lerner, and Nancy Eisenberg (Eds.), Social, Emotional, and Personality Development (Vol. 3) (6th ed.) (New York: Wiley, 2006): 99–166.

[8] Peter J. LaFreniere, Emotional Development: An Evolutionary Perspective (Boston: Wadsworth/Thompson Learning, 2000).

[9] Nathan A. Fox, “Dynamic Cerebral Processes Underlying Emotion Regulation,” in Nathan Fox (eds.), The Development of Emotion Regulation: Biological and Behavioral Considerations. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development 59, no. 2–3, Serial No. 240): 152–166.

[10] American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.) (Washington, DC: APA Press, 2013).

[12] Paul D. Trapnell and Jerry S. Wiggins, “Extension of the Interpersonal Adjective Scales to Include the Big Five Dimensions of Personality,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 59 (1990): 781–790.

[13] MacDonald, “Love, Trust, and Evolution.”

[14] Jay Belsky, Laurence Steinberg, and Patricia Draper, “Childhood experience, interpersonal development, and reproductive strategy: An evolutionary theory of socialization,” Child Development 62 (1991): 647–670.

[15] Andreas Bartels and Semir Zeki, “The Neural Basis of Romantic Love,” NeuroReport 11, no. 17 (2000): 3829–3834.

[16] Trapnell and Wiggins, “Extension of the Interpersonal Adjective Scales to include the Big Five dimensions of personality.”

[17] Jerry S. Wiggins and Ross Broughton, “The Interpersonal Circle: A Structural Model for the Integration of Personality Research,” Perspectives in Personality 1 (1985): 1–47.

[18] American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 (Washington DC, 2012).

[19] Martin L. Lalumiere and Vernon L. Quinsey, “Sexual Deviance, Antisociality, Mating Effort, and the Use of Sexually Coercive Behaviors,” Personality and Individual Differences. 21 (1996): 33–48.

[20] Robert D. Hare, Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) (2nd ed.) (Toronto: Multi-Health Systems, Inc., 2003).

[21] Andrea L. Glenn and Adrian Raine, “Psychopathy and Instrumental Aggression: Evolutionary, Neurobiological, and Legal Perspectives,” International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 32 (2009): 253–258.

[22] Aurelio J. Figueredo et al. “The Psychometric Assessment of Human Life History Strategy: A Meta-analytic Construct Validation,” Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences 8, no. 3 (2014): 148–185.

[24] Mary D. S. Ainsworth, Infancy in Uganda (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1967) Robert A. LeVine and Sarah E. LeVine, “Parental Strategies among the Gusii of Kenya,” in Robert A. LeVine, Patrice M. Miller, and Mary Maxwell West (eds.), Parental Behavior in Diverse Societies (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1988): 28–35.

[25] MacDonald, “Effortful Control, Explicit Processing, and the Regulation of Human Evolved Predispositions.”

[27] Oliver P. John and Sanjay Srivastava, “The Big Five Trait Taxonomy: History, Measurement, and Theoretical Perspectives,” in Lawrence A. Pervin and Oliver P. John (Eds.), Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research, 2nd ed. (New York: Guilford Press: 102–138.

[28] Ibid., 121 italics in original

[29] Adrian Raine, “Psychophysiology and Antisocial Behavior: A Biosocial Perspective and a Prefrontal Dysfunction Hypothesis,” in Daniel M. Stoff, James Breiling, and Jack D. Maser (Eds.), Handbook of Antisocial Behavior (New York: Wiley, 1997): 289–304.

[30] MacDonald, “Effortful Control, Explicit Processing, and the Regulation of Human Evolved Predispositions.”

[31] Lynn, Race Differences in Personality.

[32] Lynn notes that Asians are more likely to be willing to donate organs after death than Whites (intermediate) or Blacks (lowest), a finding that fits the general pattern of race differences in IQ and many other traits. However, donations after death are not really costs to the donor and may be influenced by religious beliefs, whereas charitable contributions while living are real costs. As a result, I emphasize the latter. The argument here is that because of the evolution of individualism and consequent elaboration of mechanisms related to personal attractiveness in White populations, race differences in Love/Nurturance do not follow the general pattern, i.e., East Asians, Whites, Africans.

[33] Nicolas Baumard, “Psychological Origins of the Industrial Revolution,” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 41 (September, 2018): 1–47.

[34] Randall Akee, Emelia Semeonova, E. Jane Costello, and William Copeland, “How Does Household Income Affect Child Personality Traits and Behaviors?, American Economic Review 108, no. 3 (2018): 775–827.

[35] Gregory Clark, A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009).

[36] Peter Frost and Henry Harpending, “Western Europe, Violence, and State Formation,” Evolutionary Psychology 13, no. 1 (January 2015): 230–243.

[37] Chi-Yu Cheng, “The Chinese Theory of Criminal Law,” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 39(4) (1948): 461-470 see also “Nine-Familial Exterminations,” Wikipedia.

[38] C. Harry Hui and Harry Triandis, “Individualism-Collectivism: A Study of Cross-Cultural Researchers,” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 17, no.2 (1986): 225–248.

STIP: Doctoral Partnership Grant ‘Jewish Collectors and Donors at the National Gallery’ (National Gallery London & University of Durham)

The National Gallery and the University of Durham are pleased to announce a fully-funded Collaborative Doctoral Studentship from 1 October 2020 under the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Scheme. The project ‘Jewish Collectors and Donors at the National Gallery (c.1830-1945)’ will provide an opportunity to research a fascinating chapter in Jewish history and the history of collecting and allow the student to receive supervision and training across two outstanding institutions.

Application deadline: 8 June 2020
Start date: 1 October 2020

The successful candidate will be jointly supervised by Dr Susanna Avery-Quash (Senior Research Curator, National Gallery) and Dr Tom Stammers (Associate Professor of Modern European History, University of Durham). The project also feeds into a major AHRC-funded project “Jewish” Country Houses: Objects, Networks, People, and so the student will also benefit from supervision by Dr Silvia Davoli (University of Oxford/ Strawberry Hill Trust). For more on the Jewish Country Houses project, see: The student will be expected to spend time at both the University of Durham and the National Gallery and become an active member of both academic and research communities, as well as belonging to the wider cohort of CDP students across the UK.

Project Overview:
This project interrogates the Jewish contribution to the making of the National Gallery. Despite the importance of many Jewish collectors associated with the Gallery – including Alfred de Rothschild, Ludwig Mond, Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted – these men and women have never been studied as a group in relation to the growth of the institution. Focusing on the period from the foundation of the National Gallery (1824) to the end of the Second World (1945), this project will investigate the role of Jewish donors, dealers and trustees in constructing the collections and in administering the institution. The project will consider what, if anything, was distinctive about Jewish taste in painting, and uncover the motivations behind acts of philanthropy on the part of this cultural minority. It will reconstruct the Jewish presence within networks of kinship, business and sociability that sustained the National Gallery in an era of dramatic expansion yet economic hardship and analyse the dynamics which resulted in paintings owned by eminent Jewish collectors entering the public domain in the era before the Holocaust. Although centred on the holdings of the National Gallery, this interdisciplinary doctoral project will reveal links with other houses and museums in Britain and beyond, and put to work methodologies derived from art history, social and cultural history, the history of collecting and the history of the art market. In addition to its historic interest, the project fits with a contemporary desire for museums to be more reflexive about their origins and to discover the diverse histories they contain and can narrate. In this way, the project fits with contemporary agendas at the Gallery as it moves towards the bicentenary of its foundation in 2024.

Among the central questions for this doctoral research project are:
– What does the development of the National Gallery and its collections reveal about Jewish cultural philanthropy in the period, c.1830-1945? How does the donation of paintings compare with other types of gift?- How did the intensity of Jewish involvement with the National Gallery vary over this period? How did the Jewish participation compare with that of other groups? Did gender, social status, age or national background influence how collectors engaged with the Gallery?- What contribution did Jewish trustees make to the direction and management of the National Gallery in the hundred years of its existence?- How significant was the contribution of Jewish dealers to the formation of the National Gallery collections? How far did Jewish dealers and collectors mobilise wider European relationships and cultural trends?- Why has this Jewish contribution been obscured within institutional memory? How should that be rectified?

Whilst a registered member of the Durham history department, the student will also use the facilities of the National Gallery’s Research Centre, including its library and archive. This prime archival material will be supplemented by related sources from the institutional archives such as those at Tate and the Whitechapel Art Gallery, as well as collections of private papers and properties now managed by the National Trust.

Details of Award:
CDP doctoral training grants fund full-time studentships for 45 months (3.75 years) or part-time equivalent. The studentship has the possibility of being extended for an additional 3 months to provide professional development opportunities, or up to 3 months of funding may be used to pay for the costs the student might incur in taking up professional development opportunities.

The award pays tuition fees up to the value of the full-time home/EU UKRI rate for PhD degrees. Research Councils UK Indicative Fee Level for 2020/21 is £4,407.The award pays full maintenance for UK citizens and residents only. The National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2020/21 is £15,285, plus a CDP maintenance payment of £600/year, and an allowance of £1000/year.

The student is eligible to receive an additional travel and related expenses grant during the course of the project courtesy of the National Gallery, in addition to other sources of funding available at the University of Durham.The project can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis.
Eligibility:- This studentship is open to UK/EU students who meet the residency requirements set out in the UKRI Conditions of Research Council Training Grants:–

We want to encourage the widest range of potential students to study for a CDP studentship and are committed to welcoming students from different backgrounds to apply.- Applicants should ideally have or expect to receive a relevant Masters-level qualification, or be able to demonstrate equivalent experience in a professional setting. Suitable disciplines are flexible, but might include modern cultural history, art history, Jewish history, provenance research, art market studies, heritage or museum studies. Proficiency in a European language other than English is desirable.- Applicants should demonstrate a passion for the museum sector, and a willingness for their research to help inform future National Gallery catalogues and exhibitions. They should be keen to take part in and help organise workshops and conferences around the subject.- As a collaborative award, students should be prepared to spend time at both the University and the National Gallery.

How to Apply:
Applications should take the form of a two-page CV, a cover letter outlining reasons for applying, and a short writing sample (up to 2,000 words). These materials are to be submitted before the closing date of 8 June 2020. For further information, please contact: Dr Tom Stammers ([email protected]).

Application deadline: 8 June 2020
Start date: 1 October 2020

1. Introduction

Kinship organization, like other aspects of our social phenotype, has evolved (Cronk & Gerkey 2007). Across the world, kinship systems are organized in a restricted set of all the combinatorial possibilities available (e.g. Nerlove & Romney 1967), suggesting that selection acts to produce a limited number of optimal solutions in this domain (Jones 2003). Social behaviours do not fossilize, so speculations about the evolution of human kinship structure have concentrated on the recent timespan of the historical record, especially hunter–gatherer groups (e.g. Marlowe 2004), or the distant timespan of comparison with non-human primates and our hominid ancestors (Foley & Lee 1989 Gowlett 2008). By contrast, to understand the adaptive social dynamics of the past 10� years, we require large-scale analyses of cross-cultural variation that control for shared evolutionary history. Until recently, appropriate theoretical and methodological frameworks have been lacking. A cultural phylogenetic approach that combines linguistic trees as models of population history with the rich ethnographic literature on kinship provides the best solution (Mace & Holden 2005 Gray et al. 2007). In this way, ‘virtual archaeology’ lets us infer the ancestral states of human social structure.

A growing literature attests to the successful use of these methods to test coevolutionary hypotheses and ancestral state reconstruction in anthropology (e.g. Mace et al. 2005 Lipo et al. 2006). By Darwinising culture, the adaptive nature of human social organization can be understood in an evolutionary context. For example, Holden & Mace (2003) demonstrated that patriliny coevolved with the adoption of pastoralism in Bantu societies, with matrilineal societies first acquiring cattle and then switching to patriliny. In Indo-European societies, Fortunato et al. (2006) showed dowry combined with monogamy was the likely ancestral state, and that wealth transfer and marriage systems were coevolving (Fortunato & Mace in press).

Knowledge of ancestral social organization is critical for interpreting genetic findings, especially when mtDNA and Y-chromosome patterns conflict (Oota et al. 2001 Wilkins & Marlowe 2006). The most important factor is sex-specific dispersal, which in human societies is regulated by post-marital residence rules. Patrilocal residence—where the wife lives with the husband's kin—is the most common pattern worldwide, occurring in approximately 70 per cent of societies (Levinson & Malone 1980). Other common patterns are matrilocality, where the husband lives with the wife's kin, and ambilocality, where the couple choose which set of kin they will reside with (Holy 1996). Although residence rules covary with descent rules in predictable ways, they are not strictly determined by descent systems (Murdock 1949 Levinson & Malone 1980), and are therefore the primary set of kinship norms that regulate human dispersal.

(a) Kinship in Austronesian societies

Worldwide, regions such as Eurasia show predominantly patrilocal residence, while Africa has mostly strict patrilocal or matrilocal systems (Murdock 1949 Goody 1976). By contrast, the Austronesian-speaking societies of the Pacific are not only more ambilocal, but also have a ‘matricentric orientation’ that is, a theme of matrilineal descent and matrilocal kinship structures (Burton et al. 1996). Austronesian societies are a useful regional case to test hypotheses about the evolution of kinship norms (Lane 1961) and the interaction between residence patterns and divergent genetic findings.

Pacific scholars have debated the nature of early Austronesian social organization for many years, usually inferring ancestral kinship patterns from proto-language reconstructions, comparative ethnology and examination of kin terminology (e.g. Van Wouden 1935 [1968] Murdock 1949 Blust 1980). Little consensus has emerged regarding post-marital residence norms. Previous work has focused on three ancestral speech communities, each associated with distinct archaeological ‘pauses’ (Green 2003) in the Austronesian colonization of the Pacific beginning ca 5500𠂫P (Diamond & Bellwood 2003 Gray et al. 2009). The first pause is the proto-Austronesian (PAn) root, the second constitutes the proto-Malayo-Polynesian (PMP) community prior to Austronesian entry into The Philippines ca 4�𠂫P (Pawley 2002 Gray et al. 2009) and the third is proto-Oceanic (POc), ca 3500𠂫P, associated with the archaeological ‘Lapita Cultural Complex’ and the dispersal of Austronesian peoples into the previously uninhabited regions of Remote Oceania such as Polynesia (Kirch & Green 2001 Green 2003 figure 1).

In two syntheses of the available evidence, Hage (1998) and Hage & Marck (2003) hypothesized that matrilocality and/or matriliny characterized ancestral Oceanic society (i.e. POc). A matri-biased social organization in POc peoples would therefore have restricted female genetic diversity while increasing male diversity as non-Austronesian men married in. Matrilocality is thus consistent with the divergent mtDNA and Y-chromosome patterns seen in the Pacific human genetics (for recent reviews, see Hurles et al. 2002, 2003). Kayser et al. (2008) stated that ‘the large discrepancy in the estimated Asian and Melanesian contributions to Polynesians for mtDNA versus the Y-chromosome suggests sex-biased genetic admixture … This scenario is supported by suggestions of matrilineal descent and matrilocal residence in the ancestral Polynesian society.’ (p. 197).

Cultural phylogenetics allows us to quantitatively test these hypotheses about Austronesian kinship. Here we use a Bayesian Markov-chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) comparative method on language trees to reconstruct the ancestral states of post-marital residence in Austronesian societies. This approach proceeds by using information about characters in the present-day ‘taxa’ (societies) to infer the ancestral states of those characters in the past along a phylogeny (Pagel 1999). By capitalizing on the powerful model-based aspects of Bayesian phylogenetic inference (Huelsenbeck et al. 2001 Lewis 2001), these estimates of ancestral states take into account the uncertainty of both the tree topology and the cultural trait reconstructions.


Colonial administrators of central Africa divided the region into units and considered each unit home to a specific “tribe” with a leadership structure, a unique culture, and centuries of tradition. This practice was no more accurate or effective in central Africa than in other regions. It ignored the flexible, changeable, and evolving nature of ethnic identity. Christian missionaries reinforced this colonial concept as they chose local languages for education and Bible translation and created a structure for the churches' own administrative units. Research in the late 1900s showed that many ethnic names of this region came from colonial practices rather than indigenous African tradition.

Even after independence, some central African politicians and intellectuals have continued to reinforce the colonial concept of tribes, which favors certain individuals and groups. However, ethnic identity can also benefit less favored groups by promoting a sense of unity and pride and giving them political influence. Politicians and ethnic leaders with varying interests have tried various approaches, including sponsoring ethnic festivals and associations, working to define the histories and folklore of ethnic groups, and calling for the return of traditional leadership.

Multiethnic Societies

Before the colonial era, most African states were multiethnic, that is, they usually had one dominant ethnic group, several other groups, several languages, and a shared culture. The colonial powers remolded ethnicity into a hierarchical structure of separate geographical units, each governed by a traditional ruler who served as a colonial official. Today, however, everyday life is multiethnic again, especially in towns but increasingly in rural areas as well.

Although many associations are organized along ethnic lines and designed to promote ethnic identification, numerous recreational, sports, and religious organizations resemble society in general and are multiethnic. In them, individuals learn to operate in the wider society. World religions such as Islam and Christianity are perhaps the least ethnically divided institutions in central Africa. Many churches offer services or rituals in more than one language.

Many of the towns of central Africa began as settlements created by colonial authorities to meet the needs of government and industry. The towns have been laboratories of multiethnic social life. They have attracted migrants of many ethnic backgrounds who speak a variety of languages. Townspeople learn to communicate in a common language, and they share the common experiences of urban life. But many people have complex ties to rural cultures as well.

The region, rather than the individual ethnic group, also shapes politics in central Africa. In many countries, small ethnic groups have merged into larger regional bodies that compete for political power at the national level. In ZAMBIA this process has given rise to “mega-ethnic groups” such as the Bemba. This name once referred to only one of the many ethnic groups in northeastern Zambia. Today, however, it refers to a cluster of groups in northern Zambia that has adopted Bemba as a shared language. The trend toward mega-ethnic groups appears to be continuing.

Ethnicity and Conflict

A society divided into different ethnic groups does not necessarily produce equal groups with the same amounts of power and status. Some groups may be seen as older, larger, richer, or more advanced than others. Ethnic groups tend to compete, striving to improve their positions. When they fail, individuals may try to move into more favored groups by changing their dress, language, or name.

Many Central Africans regard ethnicity as the most important factor in politics, and they tend to view any disturbance as an ethnic conflict. Ethnic labels allow complex social, economic, and political issues to be reduced to a simple case of “us against them.” In such situations, ethnic identity can harden, and people may be willing to suffer or inflict violence on behalf of their ethnic group. In many states in this region, poverty and political disorder have been regarded as ethnic conflicts. This viewpoint has led to bitter confrontations and, in some cases, to large-scale violence. In Rwanda the dominant Hutu waged a gruesome genocidal campaign of violence against the minority Tutsi in the mid-1990s. This tragedy continues to be felt throughout the region.

A Diaspora of the Mind: American Jewry and the Secularization of Otherness

Every year, we say: L’shanah haba’ah b’yrushalayim (next year in Jerusalem). We gather in Boston, we gather in Boca. We raise a glass and look toward the East, toward the mythological locus of Judaism, slouching toward the perpetually deferred dream.

The dream is dead, having finally been realized. Long lived is the dream, as Jewish longing has conformed to its parameters, and not to its realities. With the founding of the state of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent capture of all of East Jerusalem in 1967, the city fell under Jewish tutelage for the first time since the Bar Kokhba Revolt of 132-135 CE. Jerusalem was regained, but Jerusalem, being the polyvalent symbol par excellence, dominates those in which its memory reposes. On the day man’s capacity for imagination is irrevocably obliterated, Jerusalem will be ruled.

Ah, Jerusalem! “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.” (Psalm 137:5) We did remember, and we came back. But the result of our initial despoilment—a centripetal consciousness of loss and narrative of communal redemption, rooted in our shared otherness—has been rendered incoherent. As a diasporic faith, periphery was central all points could emanate equally lachrymose for a long-lost spiritual and temporal sovereignty. Subordinate to outsized Jerusalem, the diaspora experienced a diffused democratization of longing. In returning “home,” first as guests of the Ottomans, then the British, and finally as the sovereign Israeli polity, the conception of the diaspora took on a new meaning. Jews were no longer forced to wander the continents, dependent upon the benevolence of others. The locus reclaimed, diaspora Jews need no longer gaze expectantly towards Zion. Go ahead. It’s there if you’re so inclined.

It turns out, though, that most American Jews are not. In 2009, 3,324 American Jews made aliyah (literally, “ascent”) to Israel. There are some 5.3 million Jews in America, non-practicing Jews included. Why, after thousands of years of canonized longing, has the dream sputtered out at its precise moment of realization?

Perhaps we are too comfortable. Perhaps, happily ensconced in major American metropolitan areas, we see no need to rend ourselves from the American cultural fabric, our integration into which took considerable time and toil. Perhaps we are doubly alienated: not fully American, but not quite Jewish. There are a great deal of American Jews who do not practice Judaism, or at least do not do so on a regular basis. According to the most recent National Jewish Population Survey (2000-2001), 46 percent of American Jews belong to a synagogue—39 percent of which belong to the Reform Movement, arguably the most liberal and assimilationist branch of American Judaism—while only 27 percent of American Jews attend services at least once a month. We may attend a Passover Seder—77 percent of American Jews do—or, like 72 percent of American Jews, light some Chanukah candles, but our dedication to Judaism qua religious practice appears deeply attenuated. Nevertheless, Judaism—or perhaps “Jewishness”—remains an important aspect of our cultural identity. A full 52 percent of American Jews claim that “half or more” of their close friends are Jewish. This does not strictly correlate with synagogue attendance: 42 percent of Jews with no connections to a Jewish institution answered this question in the affirmative, while 48 percent of this unaffiliated group also “feels emotionally attached to Israel.”

Of course, the American Jewish community is not some kind of monolith, and its many iterations reflect a rich diversity, which are especially, but not exclusively, manifest in the large urban areas many Jews reside. Every morning, I board the Manhattan-bound F Train in Brooklyn, and I find myself at a loss, speechless before the diverse modes of being that, woven together, constitute the many American Judaisms. Hasids, Haredim, Mizrahi (many from Syria), Modern Orthodox, and highly assimilated, often secular Jews: all riding the same train, all with their own, not necessarily uncomplicated, relationships to America and to one another.

But it is true that, although all American Jews share a religious or ethno-cultural heritage, some can be said to constitute a distinct enough community or subculture to form their own cultural islands, or in the case of the Hasidic and Haredi Jews of Brooklyn, archipelagoes. All American Jews may share a sense of “remoteness-in-proximity” from American society at large, but this difference is not experienced uniformly. The difference is different. This fact is particularly salient when one considers the Hasidic and Haredi communities. Rejecting bourgeois mores entirely, these Jews inhabit a kind of community-fortified redoubt from modernity their “being apart” is largely self-imposed and intentional, and their sense of otherness is manifestly different then the one experienced by most American Jews. They represent a kind of singular exception not just within the America Jewish community, but also to a mode of being conceived of as congenitally American. (The Amish, it should be said, provide perhaps the only other persistent challenge to this modus vivendi, but do so on very different theological and social grounds than the Hasidic or Haredi American Jews.)

So it is not so much this “traditionalist” strand of American Judaism I am concerned with—because although its membership is growing rapidly due to high birth rates, it still makes up a relatively minute percentage of American Jews as a whole—but rather the majority of American Jews who are to varying degrees assimilated into mainstream American society. At the risk of oversimplification, a basic taxonomy would divide this group into three. There are, first, the Reform and Conservative movements, which represent the established core of modern American Judaism. The second group, which is far smaller and less formally organized than the first, could be very loosely (and unsatisfactorily) called neo-Hasidic, and is notable for its fusion of religious observance, left wing politics, environmentalism, and various other New Age accretions. This group, while less assimilated in some ways than the first—in many of its followers’ strict observance of Shabbat, for instance—is often fairly radical in its political and social vision. Thus it defies easy characterization, because if your basic orientation is a liberal one, it can appear simultaneously orthodox (or at least “traditional” in some sense) and progressive.

Which brings us to the final group, secular Jews. By “secular” I do not mean those who endorse secularism as a basic principle of modernity—all three of these groups would certainly be considered secular by this definition—but those who do not consider themselves Jews in any kind of religious, as opposed to cultural, sense. They may be humanists, agnostics, atheists, or pantheists, but they are not Jews qua their practice of Judaism. It may be that, as the Jews most removed from Judaism, this group is the one most susceptible to the vague yet pervasive sense of unease, instability, and alienation—otherness—that I am attempting to describe. As secular Jews this group may be more liable to experience this phenomenon, because it has no structured religious practice to ground it. However, since all the members of these groups—Conservative, Reform, neo-Hasidic, and secular Jews alike—are broadly secularist in outlook, and to varying degrees embracing of modernity, it should be sufficiently clear that one need not be secular to inhabit, willfully and willingly, a secular world. This world is seen as something that is both inherently desirable, being characterized by a general constellation of values (among which are liberalism, egalitarianism, and representative democracy), and instrumentally so, as it protects the rights of minorities to worship freely, and advance unhindered in its private and public pursuits (granted that these do not fundamentally conflict with the aforementioned values).

The great majority of American Jews have thus placed a great deal of faith in this milieu, for reasons that reflect both calculations of self-interest and catholic first principles. And the opportunities it has presented have been spectacular: Jews, collectively and individually, have been able to pursue their own vision of human flourishing in a manner and scale that is perhaps unprecedented. It is true that we have much to be thankful for, but it is important that we recognize the inherent limitations, and the precariousness, of our social position.

The American liberal democratic system, which safeguards against a tyrannical majority, does not, however, explicitly prohibit the intense social pressure that a religious majority can induce through its “mere” conspicuousness. Secularism, particularly in its American manifestation, is a negative philosophy that is, in contradistinction to its other formulations—say, the French notion of laïcité, which places positive prohibitions on religious influence and expression—American secularism is, unsurprisingly, more laissez-faire about the matter. The process of secularization, though, has not always reaped uncomplicated belonging. Jews’ demographic position in America has always required an implicit recognition of the deference required by a minority group in a majoritarian system, but faith in the moderating power of the secular state has somewhat eased this concern. The question I should like to pose is whether this sense of trust—the idea that, for better or worse, the state serves as a neutral arbiter, securing minority rights—is misplaced, unfounded, or naïve.

From a demographic perspective at least, America is a Christian nation. This observation is both indispensible and banal: the question is whether “Christian nation” means “a nation of Christians” living in a secular state informed by Christian ethics and legal principles, or an illiberal and volatile “Christian democracy.” Proponents of these two competing visions of America have been engaged in a philosophical war of attrition since the founding of the republic. For American Jews, however, the tension between these two visions—and the possible ramifications of the final victory of one over the other—has become obscured by the excessive fealty on all sides to the notion of “Judeo-Christian values.” This happy hyphen is the historical product of Protestant Americans’ rediscovery, thanks to its translation into the vernacular, of the Tanakh, or Hebrew Bible. In rediscovering the Hebrew Bible, American Protestants saw parallels between their beliefs—such as their notion of “chosenness”—and those in the Tanakh. In turn, this newfound feeling of kinship to Jews produced a sense of paternal responsibility for their well-being instead of the consummate deniers of His divinity, Jews were seen as legitimate carriers of an authentic tradition fully realized in Christ.

No doubt this hermeneutical distinction has benefited American Jews, and our fraternity with American Protestantism, and Christianity as a whole, has been emphasized when deemed desirable for reasons that are largely earnest but occasionally border on the disingenuous. (One case that immediately comes to mind is the distancing of Christianity and Judaism from Islam, when in reality the latter two systems share many affinities that the former does not.) Nevertheless, the distinction is an inherently Christian one. It was a gift, but gifts such as this function within a system of conceptual economy. Something must be returned loss is inevitable and necessary.

Thus the largely secularist American Jewish population, which feels neither the covenantal pull of its forefathers, nor the desire to emigrate to the Jewish nation-state, nor the impulse to convert, finds itself in a unique kind of cognitive purgatory. Not Christian, but fully Americanized (or at least the most Americanized group of non-Christian Americans). Not practitioners of tradionalist forms of Judaism, but Jewish. Newly-minted members of a voluntary, not compulsory, diaspora. Otherness—a long-lived trope in Jewish history, to be sure, and one caused by both external discrimination and internal chauvinism—has, particularly in the case of secular Jews, outlived the actual practice of Judaism. Our otherness is not the otherness of our progenitors.

This newfound sense of otherness has precipitated a turn toward that most modern of objects of veneration, the nation-state. And, like many other Americans, American Jews have a certain affinity for their place of “origin,” as well as for the only real national homeland most have ever known: the United States. What is particular about the American Jewish experience, however, is that Israel has become our adopted national home, our surrogate history. We no longer trace ourselves back to the Pale, or in some cases, to the Arab states of the Middle East. We’re American in a very particular, and very distinct sense. The creation of nationhood—of the “imagined communities” from which we all derive a sense of belonging—moves at a glacial pace, but rests on deeply unstable ground. Nowhere is this more apparent than in places like Israel and the United States, with their complicated and morally contradictory founding myths their promise of freedom and liberation from the past and most importantly, their sense of “being-apart” from the community of nations, of being exceptional. In constructing our own sense of identity, American Jews draw deeply from both places but are wholly contained in neither.

But if we need to quell a certain sense of rootlessness, well, one only need pivot toward Jerusalem. Longing for Jerusalem, though, is nothing new. For many, its physical existence seems almost ancillary, for Israel has became perpetually impregnated with symbolism, arising out of a continuous birthing process. In its reality, Israel has become more of an idea than it has ever been. And so we look East, towards ourselves, or what we believe ourselves to be. Outside of our history, recreating it, we blot out the past by investing in a mythologized present. Here we are, outside of ourselves. This much has not changed, and thus, no matter how hard we try, we are encumbered with an unshakable sense of difference from others and otherness from ourselves. Here we are again, wandering.

Modern Caribbean society and culture

All Caribbean societies are economically stratified (Simpson 1962a) and racially heterogeneous, and many contain diverse and identifiable ethnic groups. Ethnic and racial succession, fostered particularly by the plantation system, has produced some societies whose ethnic groupings are also largely distinct physically and whose behaviors may differ along ethnic, as well as class, lines. Where behavioral differences in forms of mating and domestic organization, religious persuasion and practice, language or dialect, and values express the presence of different institutional subsystems within a single Caribbean society, some analysts have labeled the society “plural” (M. G. Smith 1955), suggesting societal similarities with such Old World societies as Malaya, Fiji, or Mauritius.

Nearly all Caribbean societies show a dual or bipolar distribution of cultural forms, probably often stemming from (or paralleling) the traditional spheres of the masters and the slaves. Thus the uppermost segments, whose members are usually of European origin, are typified culturally by civil or sacramental marriage and European domestic organization, membership in an established religious body, and the use of a standard dialect of an Indo-European language. The bottommost segments, whose members are usually predominantly of non-European origin, are typified culturally by consensual unions and (often) matrifocal domestic organization, membership in folk religions or cult groups, and the use of Creole languages or nonstandard dialects of Indo-European languages. The total societal structures may be analyzed in class, racial, or ethnic terms and are often best understood when these three (and other) variables are employed (Simpson 1962b).

It is not easy to order Caribbean societies along any continuum of lesser-to-greater pluralism or to generalize in more detail concerning their internal structures. Differing social and political histories, demographic patterns, and cultural origins have endowed each society with a somewhat distinctive character. Variations in economic opportunity and individual mobility and in the social utility of hypergamy have complicated traditional master–slave societies, as has the presence of large new ethnic enclaves in some instances. The following data on mating and kinship, religion, and language illustrate some of these complexities.


Despite the extensive changes in family dynamics, there is still a very explicit division between the two sexes with regard to work and the professional occupational role is still viewed mainly as a masculine prerogative (Bar-Yosef 1991). In Israel a woman’s success in kinship, friendship and career depend on the extent to which she is able to define these roles as important to her—as distinct from the role of wife and mother. This, in turn, depends mainly on her level of education and type of socialization. Generally speaking, young women are able to cope with the various roles more successfully than older women because they have not been as rigidly socialized (Hartman 1980, 225–255). Although there has been some change in the upper-middle-class professionals’ attitude regarding married women and the domestic role, lower-middle, middle and upper-middle-class professionals all exhibit a similar pattern, in which husbands prefer their wives to stay at home, particularly if they can afford it financially. In most cases, women are employed full-time, but only in work, such as teaching, that is compatible with their homemaking responsibilities. Women expect—and are expected—to perform most of the domestic duties “liberal” husbands do not “share” the housework but rather “help” their wives.

The transition to modern society has clearly given more power to women. Although daughters are still brought up to respect their parents, there has been a shift from blind obedience to compromise and sometimes even conflict. The decline in the birthrate has also played a major role in improving the welfare of women—the average family today has three or four children. The woman of Iraqi origin continues to move toward increased freedom of the individual from parental control: a “growing democratization in respect to sex and age differentiation… took place among Orientals during the last two decades.” (Smooha 1978, 114). Nevertheless Layish and Shaham (1991) argue that the father is still the primary executive member or head of the family. Many women in Israeli society still relate to their husbands as the head of the family, and within the family there is still division of labor, which is least flexible among the older generation and in particular among the Iraqi families who remain in the social and geographical periphery of Israel.

Bar-Yosef, Rivka. “Household Management in Two Types of Families in Israel” (Hebrew). In Families in Israel, edited by Leah Shamgar-Handelman and Rivka Bar-Yosef, 169–196. Jerusalem: Academon, 1991.

Benski, Tova. “The Dimension of Social Status.” In Iraqi Jews in Israel: Social and Economic Integration. Edited by Tova Benski et al., 171–196 (Hebrew). Ramat Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press, 1991.

Ben-Ya’acob, Avraham. Babylonian Jewry in the Diaspora (Hebrew). Jerusalem: Kiryat Sefer, 1985.

--- Babylonian Jewry from the Period of the Geonim until Today (Hebrew). Jerusalem: Kiryat Sefer, 1965.

Blood, Robert. Marriage. New York: Free Press, 1978.

Bulka, Reuven Pinchas. Jewish Marriage: A Halachic Ethic. Hoboken, NJ: Ktav Publishing, 1986.

Cohen, Haim J. The Jews of the Middle East, 1860–1972. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1973.

--- “A Note on the Social Change among Iraqi Jews 1917–1950.” Jewish Journal of Sociology 8 (1996): 204–218.

Deshen, Shlomo. “The Jews of Baghdad in the Nineteenth Century: The Growth of Social Classes and Multicultural Groups” (Hebrew). Zemanim 73 (2001): 30–44.

Deshen, Shlomo, and Walter P. Zenner, eds. Jewish Societies in the Middle East: Community, Culture and Authority. Washington D.C.: University Press of America, 1982.

Don, Yehuda. “The Iraqi Jews—Socio-Demographic Introduction.” In Iraqi Jews in Israel: Social and Economic Integration. Edited by Tova Benski et al., 11–56 (Hebrew). Ramat Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press, 1991.

Elon, Menachem, ed. The Principles of Jewish Law. Jerusalem: Encyclopaedia Judaica, 1975.

Epstein, Louis M. The Jewish Marriage Contract: A Study in the Status of the Woman in Jewish Law. New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1973.

Filsinger, Eric E. “Love, Liking, and Individual Marital Adjustment: A Pilot Study of Relationship Changes within One Year.” International Journal of Sociology of the Family 13, no. 1 (1983): 145–157.

Friedman, Mordechai Akiva. Jewish Marriage in Palestine: A Cairo Geniza Study. Vol. 1, The Ketuba Traditions. Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, 1980.

Gale, Naomi. “From The Homeland to Sydney: Kinship, Religion, and Ethnicity among Sephardim.” PhD dissertation, University of Sydney, 1988.

--- “Love and Marriage, Past and Present: The Case of the Oriental Jews in Sydney.” International Journal of Sociology of the Family 24 (1994): 61–86.

Hartman, Harriet. “Division of Labour in Israeli Families.” In Families in Israel, edited by Leah Shamgar-Handelman and Rivka Bar-Yosef, 169–196 (Hebrew). Jerusalem: Academon, 1991.

Hartman, Moshe. “The Role of Ethnicity in Married Women’s Economic Activity in Israel.” Ethnicity 7, no. 3 (1980): 225–255.

Katz, Jacob. “Traditional Society and Modern Society.” In Jewish Societies in the Middle East: Community, Culture and Authority, edited by Shlomo Deshen and Walter P. Zenner, 35–48. Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1982.

Layish, Aharon. Islamic Law in the Contemporary Middle East. London: Centre of Near & Middle Eastern Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, 1994.

Layish, Aharon, and Samuel Shaham. “Islamic Law in the Middle East.” The Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (1991): 1–29.

Lewis, Bernard. The Jews of Islam. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984.

Meir-Glizenstein, Ester. “The Immigrants from Iraq and Israeli Policy in the Early 1950s and Their Struggle for Integration.” In The Zionism Era, edited by Anita Shapira, Yehuda Reinharz and Ya’akob Hariss, 271–295 (Hebrew). Jerusalem: Shazar Center, 2000.

Martin, Jane I. “Marriage, the Family and Class.” In Marriage and the Family in Australia, edited by Adolphus Peter Elkin, 24–53. Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1957.

--- “Report for the National Population Inquiry.” In Australian Society: A Sociological Introduction, edited by A. F. Davies and Sol Encel Australia: 1965.

Morgan, James Henry D. Social Theory and the Family. London: Routledge, 1975.

Nahon, Yaacov. “Educational Expansion and the Structure of Occupational Opportunities.” In Ethnic Communities in Israel—Socio-Economic Status, edited by N. Eisenstadt, Moshe Lissak and Yaacov Nahon, 33–49 (Hebrew). Jerusalem: Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, 1993.

Parsons, Talcott. and Bales, F. Robert. Family, Socialization and Interaction Process. London: Routledge, 1956.

--- “The Normal American Family.” In Man and Civilization: The Family Search for Survival, edited by Seymour M. Farber et. al., 31–50. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965.

Patai, Raphael. Family, Love and the Bible. London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1960.

--- The Vanished World of Jewry. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1981.

Schrieft, Ruth. “Marriage—Optional or a Trap?” In Trapped Women, edited by Dafna Izraeli. Tel Aviv: HaKibbutz HaMeuhad Press, 1989.

Sawdayee, Mourice. “The Impact of Western Education on the Jewish Millet of Baghdad 1860–1950.” PhD Dissertation, New York University, 1976.

Sehayik, Shaul. “Changes in the Status of Urban Jewish Women in Iraq at the End of the Nineteenth Century” (Hebrew). Pe’amim: Studies in the Cultural Heritage of Oriental Jewry 36 (1988): 64–88.

Shokeid, Moshe, and Shlomo Deshen. The Predicament of Homecoming: Culture and Social Life of North African Immigrants in Israel. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1974.

Smooha, Sammy. Israel: Pluralism and Conflict. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.

Solomon, Neil. “Jewish Divorce Law and Contemporary Society.” The Jewish Journal of Sociology 25, no. 2 (1983):131–140 (Review).

Watson, Rubie S., and Patricia Buckley Ebrey. Marriage and Inequality in Chinese Society. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

Yiftach, Yehezkel. The Righteous Woman from Babylon. Kfar Tabor: S. Gal’on, 1999.

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