The Self-in-Relation and the Transformation of Religious Consciousness

Janet Liebman Jacobs

in Hidden Heritage

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780520233461
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936614 | DOI:
The Self-in-Relation and the Transformation of Religious Consciousness

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This chapter explores the spiritual transformations and self-in-relations in individuals who struggle with their crypto-Jewish heritage and ancestry. The narratives of the crypto-Jewish descendants show that reclaiming Jewish ancestry involves the disclosure of family secrets and the remembrance of family customs and ritualized behaviors, causing the transformation of both the spiritual and ethnic self. The discovery of hidden religious and ethnic ancestry provokes religious and spiritual issues leading to a variety of responses from crypto-Jewish descendants. A comparison of the responses (remaining Catholic, developing syncretistic beliefs, or adopting a Jewish worldview) reveals that the preexisting religiosity, belief systems, and cultural practices of a family are important variables that determine the impact of hidden religious and ethnic ancestry on religious consciousness. Another important factor is the absence or presence of a childhood caregiver with whom the descendant shared a privatized ritual life. The importance of caregiving and affective bonding to the development of spiritual consciousness indicates that self-in-relation theory is a useful paradigm in the study of changing religious identity within the descendant population.

Keywords: crypto-Judaism; self-in-relation; religious consciousness; ancestry; syncretism

Chapter.  6598 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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