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Imagining the American Jewish Community
Jack Wertheimer, ed.

Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life

2007 • 360 pp. 10 illus., 1 table 6 x 9"
Jewish Studies / American History

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“This is a highly perceptive, well-written compilation of interest to scholar and layperson alike . . . Highly recommended.” —Choice

A lively collection of sixteen essays on the many ways American Jews have imagined and constructed communities

Since their arrival on these shores over 350 years ago, American Jews who have wished to maintain a Jewish communal life have faced a set of novel challenges. Throughout their history in the U.S., Jews have been free to embrace or eschew communal involvement; to support or ignore Jewish institutions; to associate with other Jews or to distance themselves from coreligionists. The dispersal of Jews across so vast a country has also posed serious challenges to Jewish unity. For these and other reasons examined in this volume, the group existence of Jews in the U.S. has depended on a variety of creative efforts to develop and sustain communities in the face of powerful pressures to disperse and assimilate.

This volume explores the multiple conceptions of community in the American Jewish imagination. Essays by leading scholars working in the fields of history, ethnography, material culture, literary criticism and Jewish thought uncover the underlying assumptions of those who continually redefined the Jewish community from colonial times to the present day. Topics include the notion of “synagogue-community” in prerevolutionary America, the role of commerce and business in nineteenth-century communal life, transnationalism and Jewish immigration, suburbanization, Jewish patriotism in wartime, sports and board games, Jewish literary classics, Jewish mothers, feminism,Yiddish schools, Jewish museums, and the communal possibilities of the internet.

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Reviews / Endorsements

"In these pages sixteen leading historians reflect on old, new, and potential forms of American Jewish community. The result is a marvelous illumination of American Jewish solidarity from a variety of angles and perspectives."—Michael A. Meyer, Adolph S. Ochs Professor of Jewish History, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

“The key to fresh scholarship is the ability to ask good questions. This book abounds with them, yielding a profusion of new insights and perspectives on a range of familiar topics long considered settled.”—Ismar Schorsch, Chancellor Emeritus, Jewish Theological Seminary

JACK WERTHEIMER is Professor of American Jewish History at the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, and author of several books about American Judaism, including The American Synagogue: A Sanctuary Transformed (1995) and A People Divided: Judaism in Contemporary America (1999). Most recently, he is the editor of Family Matters: Jewish Education in an Age of Choice (2007).

Tue, 11 Jul 2017 09:43:13 -0500