Learn how the Momentum Campaign is reconstructing Judaism → 

Home » The Center for Jewish Ethics » Race, Religion, and American Judaism » Lecture 11: Purity Politics and the Problem of Jewish Solidarity

Lecture 11: Purity Politics and the Problem of Jewish Solidarity

This talk explores the relationship between the rise in purity politics among American Jews and the problems it raises for building solidarities in the context of such things as the Women’s March and BLM. 

Shana Sippy
Shana Sippy

Shana Sippy is Assistant Professor of Religion at Centre College, Co-Director of the Religious Diversity in MN Initiative and Research Associate in the Religion Department at Carleton College. Her work focuses on the making of Jewish and Hindu subjectivities and articulations of religious, cultural, and racial identity in diaspora and transnationally.


Discussion questions

  1. Professor Sippy points to correspondences between religious understandings of purity, white supremacist concepts of racial purity, and “purity politics.” Can you think of examples of how concepts of purity are invoked in politics? To what degree do these examples promote racial thinking? Are there other ways to think about purity in politics?
  2. The presentation emphasized that though religion was part of human experience before the emergence of colonialism and racism in the 15th century, once racism emerged, it became entangled and inseparable from religion. What are some ways that religion has been used to support racism? What are some ways that racism has shaped religion?
  3. Professor Sippy points out that compromise is necessarily a feature of working in solidarity with other groups. Have you ever made such compromises yourself? What considerations govern your decisions about how and when to compromise? What principles lead you to embrace solidarity with some groups and not with others?

More from the lecturer

  • Religions in Minnesota: a public scholarship project about religious diversity, co-directed by Shana Sippy and Michael D. McNally.

The Reconstructionist Network

Serving as central organization of the Reconstructionist movement

Training the next generation of groundbreaking rabbis

Modeling respectful conversations on pressing Jewish issues

Curating original, Jewish rituals, and convening Jewish creatives

The Reconstructionist Network