Synopses & Reviews
Arthur A. Goren's strikingly lucid and accessible essays, ranging over nearly a century of Jewish communal life, examine the ways in which American Jews grappled with issues of group survival in an open and accepting society. With the focus on Jewish strategies for maintaining a collective identity while participating fully in American society and public life, Goren explores how immigrants fashioned a Jewish public culture from the traditions and secular ideologies they brought with them from Europe. Individual chapters treat celebrations and demonstrations, including protest marches, commemorations of historical events, political campaigns, and public funerals of famous people, that came to serve as civic rituals of affirmation and self-definition in the early 1900s. Turning to the second half of the century, Goren considers the unifying commitment of American Jews to assuring Israel's security and to striving for a pluralistic America. These essays provide a fresh, provocative, and compelling look at the fundamental question facing American Jewry at the end of the 20th century, as at its start: how to assure Jewish survival within American freedom.
"Goren, a leading scholar of American Jewish history, collects ten articles that appeared in scholarly journals between 1961 and 1997. The pieces are tied together, however, with the theme of how American Jews sought to maintain a sense of community and how they used politics and public culture to do so. The essays trace the manner in which four generations of American Jews managed to maintain a resilient community. Goren points to the late 1950s as the baseline that demarcated American Jewry from its earlier history. The poverty of the Jewish immigrant generations and the memory of the Depression had been replaced with an affluence that opened up new social opportunities. As American Jews became ever more aware of the excesses of the Nazi genocide against the Jews of Europe, and of the precarious status of the State of Israel, the decade of the 1960s witnessed the emergence of a functional consensus within the Jewish community, which was grounded on two public commitments that continue into the present: assuring Israel's security and striving for a liberal US (and, by extension, a liberal world order). To be read along with On Equal Terms: Jews in America, 1881, 1981 by Lucy Dawidowicz (CH, Apr'83). Both general and academic readership." --J. Fischel, Millersville University, Choice, November 2000 Indiana University Press Indiana University Press Indiana University Press
These strikingly lucid and accessible essays, ranging over nearly a century of Jewish communal life, examine the ways in which immigrant Jews grappled with issues of group survival in an open and accepting American society. Ten case studies focus on Jewish strategies for maintaining a collective identity while participating fully in American society and public life. Readers will find that these essays provide a fresh, provocative, and compelling look at the fundamental question facing American Jewry at the end of the 20th century, as at its start: how to assure Jewish survival in the benign conditions of American freedom.
About the Author
Arthur A. Goren is Russell and Bettina Knapp Professor of American Jewish History at Columbia University. His books include New York Jews and the Quest for Community, Dissent in Zion: From the Writings of Judah L. Magnes, and The American Jews.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Immigrant Encounters with America, 1900-1940
1. Strategies of Survival and the Uses of Pluralism
2. Pageants of Sorrow, Celebration and Protest
3. The Rites of Community
4. Socialist Politics on the Lower East Side
5. Conservative Politics of the Orthodox Press
6. Paths of Leadership
Part 2: Communal Politics and Public Culture, 1940-1990
7. Spiritual Zionists and Jewish Sovereignty
8. Americanizing Zionist Pioneers
9. The "Golden Decade": 1945-1955
10. Inventing the "New Pluralism"