American Jewish History

ISBN 13: 9780415919333

American Jewish History

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9780415919333: American Jewish History

This set brings together for the first time facsimiles of the most important articles ever written on the history of the Jewish people in America. Edited by one of the foremost experts in the field, this encyclopedic collection is indispensible for students, scholars, and general readers interested in American Jewish history.

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From Booklist:

Jews have been in America since 1654, but serious study of American Jewish history did not begin until the 1950s. This set is a compilation of 211 articles written over the past 40 years by professional historians. Sponsored by the American Jewish Historical Society, the set includes articles chosen to relate the history of American Jews to that of other Americans or to that of Jews all over the world.

The work is divided into eight parts that appear in 13 volumes. The parts can be purchased separately. Each has its own table of contents, index, and preface. There is no comprehensive index for the entire set. A general introduction to the series by editor Gurock appears at the beginning of each part. The editor's choice of articles shows the changes in Jewish historiography. Early writers attempt to document Jewish achievements and contributions to American life and their loyalty to the country, while modern scholars are not afraid to examine all aspects of American Jewish life, including loyalty to the British during the Revolutionary War, anti-Semitism, and the American response to the Holocaust. The articles are written by established scholars such as Charles Liebman, Jacob Neusner, Cecil Roth, and Jonathan Sarna, as well as graduate students.

The eight parts are grouped by theme: colonial and early national period, 1654^-1840; Central European Jews in America, 1840^-1880; East European Jews in America, 1880^-1920; American Jewish life, 1920^-1990; history of Judaism in America; transplantations, transformations, and reconciliations; anti-Semitism in America; America, American Jews, and the Holocaust; and American Zionism.

The material here is interesting because it examines Jewish history within the context of developing American society. The articles deal with issues such as how the different denominations of Judaism adapted to American life while preserving their identities, as well as specific historical events like General Grant's Order no. 11, issued in 1862, which banished Jews from Union-occupied southern territories. The coverage of this is complete, with discussions of the background, the Jewish response, and how Grant's supporters and enemies used the event. The wide range of issues discussed in the set includes anti-Semitism among the suffragettes, Jewish-black relations, the role of synagogue sisterhoods, and the political and cultural impact of Zionism.

American Jewish History is a unique source. Unlike general works, such as the Encyclopedia Judaica, it covers a single area in depth. Judaica and academic libraries will want to add it to their collections. Large public libraries where there is interest and synagogue libraries with sufficient funds may want to consider adding all or part of the set.

From Library Journal:

This eight-volume set contains 211 journal articles and book chapters on Jewish life in America, most written during the last 50 years. Each volume has its own index and is separately titled, e.g., Central European Jews in America 1840-1880 and Anti-Semitism in America. Other volumes deal with American Zionism, the history of Judaism in the United States, and American Jewry's reaction to the Holocaust. Each article contains its original photographs and illustrations, page numbering (with separate pagination for the individual volume), and typeface. All articles (except one in the reviewer's galley copy) identify the original source, and footnotes/endnotes/bibliographies and cross references have not been modified; thus, readers are sometimes referred to an article "below" that is not included. This set is sponsored by the American Jewish Historical Society, of which editor Gurock is chair, and nearly half of the articles originated from one of the society's own journals. Thus, most Judaica collections as well as many large academic and public libraries already own much of this material, although it would not be as easily accessible by subject. This expensive set is recommended for libraries that want to dramatically upgrade their collection with one purchase. Most libraries would want to purchase individual volumes to supplement part of their collections.?John A. Drobnicki, York Coll. Lib., CUNY, Jamaica, N.Y.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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