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Under the American capitalist system, modern Jewish communities gradually and subconsciously compromise on their core values in order to flourish in said system. Jewish tradition has long espoused socialist economic practices and constructed institutions based on socialist values of social sensitivity, responsibility, and equity. My method is first to outline several ancient institutions in the Torah that exhibit these socialist values. Then, through comparing these structures to the practices of Modern Orthodox Jewish communities today, I will demonstrate that although these institutions and practices have largely been phased out, the values that underpin them remain. Furthermore, these socialist values necessarily clash with the capitalist ideology in which they are situated. This ideological conflict is reconciled by the sublimation and modification of Judaism’s socialist inclinations to fit the dominant capitalist model, which forces those values into obsolescence and instead prioritizes the pursuit of monetary gains. There are still some forms of Judaism today, though they exist on the fringe of Jewish society and society at large, that challenge capitalist ideology. The communist Kibbutzim and ascetic chassidim are two very different communities that each exist on their own and attempt to live outside of capitalistic pressures. Judaism is a religion that prizes moral character and “loving thy neighbor as thyself” above all else. As a Jew or non-Jew, it is important to recognize how our capitalist reality distorts our values and ever so slowly distances our communities from each other and from the ideals that built them.



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Judaism and Capitalism: Ideologies in Conflict