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Jewish Renaissance and Revival in America

Eitan P. Fishbane

Publication Year: 2011

In the late 1870s, shaken by rapid socioeconomic change, internal crises, and the rise of antisemitism, young Jews assumed leadership, created dozens of organizations, and inspired masses of followers. These organizations helped define the nineteenth-century Jewish awakening: cultural and religious renewal, and the promotion of Jewish education. Expanding upon the unfinished work of Leah Levitz Fishbane, this volume seeks to broaden our understanding of this period, which paved the way for new developments in American Jewish communal, cultural, and religious life.

Published by: Brandeis University Press

Series Page

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Title Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

If memory leads us into the mysterious border between past and present, it also awakens the desire to see the future through its magical lens. How do we offer tribute to the work and humanity that was accomplished in a lifetime? How do we give expression to the creativity that was only just begun,...

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Introduction Leah Levitz Fishbane and “The Road to Renaissance”

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pp. 1-12

With this quotation, Leah Levitz Fishbane opened the first chapter of her unfinished dissertation, now published in this volume, titled “The Road to Renaissance: Young American Jews and the Emergence of New Communal Leadership in Post–Civil War America.”2 Leah had begun her graduate work at Brandeis intending to focus on the...

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1 Common Bonds

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pp. 13-46

With this story, Jonathan Sarna describes an extraordinary moment of dedication. An intimate circle of young friends pledged their shared commitment to embark upon a comprehensive and serious program of Jewish revitalization in America. This meeting, while not one of the well-known critical moments in American Jewish history, is nevertheless...

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2 On the Road to Renaissance

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pp. 47-70

In recent years, American Jewish historians have come to recognize that the roots of the great institutions of American Jewish culture at the turn of the twentieth century lay in the highly innovative, and overwhelmingly indigenous, leadership of the so-called “Philadelphia” and “New York” Jewish intellectuals during the last quarter of the nineteenth century.1 The great...

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3 A Renaissance of Jewish Readers in Victorian Philadelphia

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pp. 71-110

How does one write a cultural history of Jewish reading activities?1 In the following discussion, circumscribed by a particular location (Philadelphia) and time period (ca. 1840s–1890s),2 I will ask in a preliminary way several questions related to such an undertaking: namely, what did Jews read; what reading materials did Jews lack that they tried to...

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4 Preserving the Past to Fashion the Future

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pp. 111-122

American Jews in the twenty-fi rst century take for granted the richness of Jewish cultural life. Institutions dedicated to Jewish life abound: those dedicated to Judaism, to Israel, to promoting justice, to defending Jewish interests, to Jewish learning, and to the arts. Some organizations...

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5 Leah’s Hope

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pp. 123-134

The last time I saw Leah was at the sukkah of her in-laws. She sat across from me, gently embracing her young daughter Aderet. Leah’s vibrant eyes sparkled with the joy of motherhood. Indeed, most vividly etched in my memory of Leah are her soft eyes, ever glistening with a disarming innocence, affi rming all that is pure and decent. Appropriately, she...

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6 Revival through Celebrity

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pp. 135-144

In his 1989 study of the Jewish Publication Society, Jonathan Sarna fi rst made the case for the phenomenon of religious revival in American Jewish history. In that work he writes:...

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7 Renewal and Havurah

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pp. 145-164

The H. avurah and Jewish Renewal movements, beginning in the late 1960s, are rightly looked upon as quintessentially American Jewish phenomena. Indeed, from the inception of Havurat Shalom in 1968, this writer and others spoke of the havurah as an aspect of the American counterculture, setting our efforts in the context of the communitarian...

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pp. 165-168

Jonathan Sarna’s introduction to this volume, like Leah Levitz Fishbane’s unfinished dissertation, begins with Sarna’s reference to a “group of earnest young Jews” who met one night in 1879 and “bound themselves together in a solemn covenant ‘for God and Judaism.’ ” It is striking, as one reads through the essays collected here, just how often that pattern has repeated itself in...


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pp. 169-170


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pp. 171

E-ISBN-13: 9781611681932
E-ISBN-10: 1611681936

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2011