Counting as one: Moral encounters and criteria of affinity in a Polish Jewish congregation

Jan Lorenz


The resurgence and transformation of Poland’s Jewish communal institutions and religious life in the last twenty years has inspired debate concerning the criteria for being and becoming Jewish. The voices in that discussion come not only from different generations, but also from different geographies of Jewish life. Drawing on fieldwork in a contemporary Jewish congregation in Poland, this article discusses ethics in the context of different rationalities of affinity. Poland’s “Jewish revival” confronted values and affects grounded in intergenerational experiences of the post-Holocaust era with categories of belonging and religious conversion enabled by new laws, transnational programs of education and socialization, and the impact of religious leaders from abroad. The apparent incommensurability of these standpoints, and the taxing attempts at their reconciliation, invite us to reconceptualize the notion of moral tradition.


affinity, ethics, morality, Jews, Judaism, Poland

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14318/hau5.2.017