Aesthetic Identity versus Collective Identity in the Jewish World

In referencing Jewish sociologist Steven Cohen, Smokler distinguished between the normative and aesthetic approach to Judaism – with the normative approach meaning anything larger than oneself and one’s immediate family while aesthetic refers to the more personal and journey oriented approach.


“We have reached an extreme where the normative approach has become the purview of the Orthodox community,” said Smokler. “Without the normative approach, the very idea of community is strained, [and what we’re left with is] a lifestyle enclave, a group of individuals with similar consumer patterns.”


“We face a challenge that young potential leaders do not have a collective identity – they have an aesthetic identity. We need both,” he continued.

Abigail Pickus, “The Search for the Jewish Holy Grail: NextGen Leaders,” eJewish Philanthropy (3 July 2012) {http://ejewishphilanthropy.com/the-search-for-the-jewish-holy-grail-nextgen-leaders/}