Living in Yehupetz: Constructing Jewish identity in the West Kootenays

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This paper examines how Jews choosing to live in isolation from mainstream Canadian Jewish life in British Columbia’s West Kootenay region are constructing Jewish identity. It observes how Jewish heritage and practices have been adapted, changed or rejected by an informal group of liberal individualists and questions whether they have created a new model of Jewish community. The methodology used included two-hour recorded interviews with past and present residents, literature review, archival research and an email survey of eight other small Jewish communities in Canada. This study demonstrates that Kootenay Jews strongly identify culturally, but are often spiritually pluralistic. They admire Jewish values and persistence, but only meet sporadically for certain holy days and life cycle events. They accept radical change to Jewish laws and may not be pro-Israel. There is no communal structure, but they possess a robust belief in their ability to persevere as a community

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Liberal Studies Program - Simon Fraser University
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Project (M.A.)