Jew vs. Jew: The Struggle for the Soul of American Jewry

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9780684859453: Jew vs. Jew: The Struggle for the Soul of American Jewry
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Fundamentalist vs. secularist, denomination vs. denomination, liberal vs. conservative -- in the last forty years, American Jews have increasingly found themselves torn apart by their diversity. In this chronicle of the evolution of American Jewry, Samuel G. Freedman illuminates the forces that have undermined the traditional peaceful coexistence among the Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist branches, and secular and unaffiliated Jews. Examining recent headline-making stories as well as less publicized controversies, Freedman discusses the vitriolic battles that have arisen over intermarriage, standards of conversion, the role of women in religious ritual, the Middle East peace process, and the secular influence on religious life. As he weighs the arguments of both extremes, Freedman comes to the controversial conclusion that the Jewish-American community is headed for a Reformation, a permanent fracture of one faith into many.

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Jew vs. Jew is Samuel G. Freedman's passionate story of the "struggle for the soul of American Jewry." Freedman believes that three fundamental questions are rending the American Jewish community today: "What is the definition of Jewish identity? Who decides what is authentic and legitimate Judaism? And what is the Jewish compact with America?" Exploring these questions leads Freedman down a number of wild paths. He listens patiently to the fierce neighborly squabbles in Great Neck, New York; he reconstructs the tension-filled final days of a labor Zionist summer camp in the Catskills; he witnesses orthodox Jews attacking American conservative Jews worshiping at the foot of the Western Wall. Freedman expertly sketches the major conflicts in American Judaism--"secularist against believer, denomination against denomination, gender against gender, liberal against conservative, traditionalist against modernist even within each branch." The book's conclusions (such as "America without Jews is unimaginable, and the brave assimilationists made that possible, even if the price was much of their own distinctiveness as Jews") are not particularly groundbreaking. But Jew vs. Jew is a thoughtful and beautifully written assessment of the precarious situation of Jewish identity in America today. --Michael Joseph Gross

About the Author:

Samuel G. Freedman is the author of five books, including Jew vs. Jew and Upon This Rock. He is a professor of journalism at Columbia University and a regular contributor to The New York Times, among other publications.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781416578000: Jew Vs Jew: The Struggle For The Soul Of American Jewry

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ISBN 10:  1416578005 ISBN 13:  9781416578000
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2007
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9780684859446: Jew Vs Jew: The Struggle For The Soul Of American Jewry

Simon ..., 2000
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