Cover

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Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. ix-xx

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Preface

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pp. xxi-xxiv

In 1950, Morris U. Schappes (1907–2004) published the first documentary history of the Jews in the United States. In his “Introduction” to that pioneering volume, Schappes offered some noteworthy observations about “the form of a...

Abbreviations

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pp. xxv-xxviii

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Introduction

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pp. 1-6

American Jewish History: A Primary Source Reader contains ten chapters, covering the history of Jews in Dutch and British colonial America and the United States from 1654 to the present. The first chapter explores the Dutch and...

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1. Creating Community: The American Jewish Experience during the Colonial Period, 1654–1776

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pp. 7-30

For colonial-era Jews, immigration, acculturation, and civic status emerged as the central themes of the American experience. In some ways, colonial Jews, who numbered just hundreds in the seventeenth century and a few thousand by the time of the American Revolution, had certain characteristics in common. A significant number of colonial Jews worked in the commercial trades and lived in economic centers such as Newport, New...

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2. Forging a Nation: The American Jewish Experience during the Revolution and the Early National Period, 1776–1820

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pp. 31-66

Throughout premodern Jewish history, powerful autocratic governments—especially those with an established religion or national church—often treated Jews poorly, relegating them to status as second-class citizens, scapegoating them, insisting they were instigators of various social ills, and, in many cases, evoking antisemitic imagery that led to occupational restrictions, special “Jew taxes,” ghettoization, and violent...

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3. Migrations across America: Jews in the Antebellum Period, 1820–1860

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pp. 67-92

During the antebellum period, from 1820 to 1860, the relatively small Jewish population in the United States welcomed a large influx of Jewish immigrants from both Central and Eastern Europe, who, escaping economic hardship, journeyed across the Atlantic to create new homes and communities. While the contemporaneous arrival of Jews from Eastern Europe complicates a simplistic characterization of this era as “the German period,” it was...

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4. Slavery and Freedom: American Jews during the Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861–1879

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pp. 93-128

The sectional crisis in American history coincided with the height of Central European Jewish immigration to the United States in the 1850s. Northerners and southerners debated the status of new states entering the Union as either free or slave, while political disagreements over the relative power of the federal government versus states’ rights brought the nation to the brink of civil war with the election of Abraham Lincoln in...

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5. The Gilded Age and Progressive Era: American Jewish Life, 1880–1918

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pp. 129-180

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the arrival of two million Eastern European Jews brought to the forefront of American Jewish history the themes of immigration and Americanization—the processes by which immigrant Jews and their descendants interacted within the larger society. During this forty-year period of large-scale Jewish immigration to the United States, new arrivals confronted a variety of questions about...

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6. American Jews between the World Wars, 1918–1941

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pp. 181-242

Between the First and Second World Wars, American Jews adapted to a social landscape that affirmed the United States as an exceptional locale for Jewish communal life. The 1920s, for example, witnessed an impressive growth in synagogue construction. For the first time in their history as Americans, most Jews spoke English as their native language, sought the highest levels of university education, enjoyed success as members of the American middle...

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7. Waging War: American Jews, World War II, and the Shoah, 1941–1945

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pp. 243-274

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the German government’s subsequent declaration of war against the United States brought instant and dramatic changes to American Jewish civic life. In the years between Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 and U.S. entrance into World War II in December 1941, American Jews negotiated a difficult path. They sought to protect, aid, and then rescue their persecuted brethren in Europe while at the same time...

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8. American Jewish Life, 1945–1965

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pp. 275-334

Three major themes dominated the early postwar years: the impact of the suburbanization of American Jews, the growth of Jewish political involvement in the public square, and the emergence of the United States as a center of Jewish life in the post-Shoah world. At once, these themes dramatized competing impulses among American Jews. To begin with, suburbanization led to a weakening in traditional observance for many Jews, who...

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9. Turning Inward: Jews and American Life, 1965–1980

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pp. 335-388

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, “identity” emerged as the dominant theme in American Jewish life. Ever since Jews had begun to enjoy the promise of civil equality in the eighteenth century, they had faced the challenge of deciding how much they wanted to accommodate themselves to the non-Jewish societies around them and how much they wanted to preserve distinctive traits and traditions as Jews. In the 1950s, American Jews...

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10. Contemporary America Jewish Life since 1980

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pp. 389-436

The final chapter of this book focuses on Jewish identity and Jewish demography in the final years of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first century. Jewish sociologists, anthropologists, and historians continue to predict where current trends will lead. As we have seen in previous chapters, students of American Jewry have long been discussing the consequences of decreasing ritual observance among American Jews as...

Index

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pp. 437-446