A Chosen Calling
Jews in Science in the Twentieth Century
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Preface. A Vanload of Rabbis in the Culture Wars of Kentucky
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Introduction: “Ridiculously Disproportionate”?
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In 1919, when he turned his attention to the achievements of Jews in modern science, the great economist and social theorist Thorstein Veblen was sixty-two years old, weary, and despondent. Twenty years had passed since he had published the book that made him famous, his notorious attack on America’s well-heeled...
1. “Holding High the Torch of Civilization”: American Jews and Twentieth-Century Science
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In the summer of 1925, America was riveted and riven by the trial of John Thomas Scopes, a Dayton, Tennessee, high school teacher accused of teaching evolution in violation of state statute. Although many saw the trial as a skirmish between science and religion, less than two months after a guilty verdict was handed down the leading rabbis of New York City joined forces to condemn Scopes’ conviction.1 There was drama in the unanimity...
2. “Second Only to Communism”: Making Soviet Jews and Soviet Science
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In 1926, Moisei Gran, a Moscow physician and professor of medicine, together with other Jewish doctors of reputation, published the first number of a new scholarly journal they called Problems of the Biology and Pathology of Jews. The journal was a product of the Society for the Study of Social Biology and Psycho-Physics of the Jews, which had convened four years earlier.1 Gran’s own article in the inaugural edition recounted...
3. “Making a Land of Experiments”: Science and Technology in Zionist Imagination and Enterprise
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In the swelter of August 1960, 120 notables representing forty countries, mostly emerging nations in Africa and Asia, gathered at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel, to attend the International Conference on the Role of Science in the Advancement of New States.1 Abba Eban had conceived the event two years earlier in Washington, D.C., while he was Israel’s ambassador to the United States. Since then, Eban had been appointed...
Conclusion: When All Worlds Were New Worlds
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As historian Yuri Slezkine wrote, Jews at the start of the twentieth century had three great “destinations”—the metropolises of America, the great cities of the Soviet Union, and the arid rough of Palestine—each representing “alternative ways of being modern.” Even before Nazis had destroyed most of Europe’s Jews, these three destinations had become capitals of Jewish life. Well before mid-century, most Jews called one or the other of them home.1...
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Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2014
Series Title: Medicine, Science, and Religion in Historical Context
Series Editor Byline: Ronald L. Numbers, Consulting Editor