Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life

Published by: Brandeis University Press

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Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life

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American Jewish History

A Primary Source Reader

Gary Phillip Zola

Presenting the American Jewish historical experience from its communal beginnings to the present through documents, photographs, and other illustrations, many of which have never before been published, this entirely new collection of source materials complements existing textbooks on American Jewish history with an organization and pedagogy that reflect the latest historiographical trends and the most creative teaching approaches.

Ten chapters, organized chronologically, include source materials that highlight the major thematic questions of each era and tell many stories about what it was like to immigrate and acculturate to American life, practice different forms of Judaism, engage with the larger political, economic, and social cultures that surrounded American Jews, and offer assistance to Jews in need around the world.

At the beginning of each chapter, the editors provide a brief historical overview highlighting some of the most important developments in both American and American Jewish history during that particular era. Source materials in the collection are preceded by short headnotes that orient readers to the documents’ historical context and significance.

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The Benderly Boys and American Jewish Education

The first full-scale history of the creation, growth, and ultimate decline of the dominant twentieth-century model for American Jewish education Samson Benderly inaugurated the first Bureau of Jewish Education in 1910 amid a hodgepodge of congregational schools, khayders, community Talmud Torahs, and private tutors. Drawing on the theories of Johann Pestalozzi, Herbert Spencer, and John Dewey, and deriving inspiration from cultural Zionism, Benderly sought to modernize Jewish education by professionalizing the field, creating an immigrant-based, progressive supplementary school model, and spreading the mantra of community responsibility for Jewish education. With philanthropist Jacob Schiff and influential laymen financing his plans, Benderly realized that his best hope for transforming the educational landscape nationwide was to train a younger generation of teachers, principals, and bureau leaders. These young men became known collectively as the “Benderly Boys,” who, from the 1920s to the 1970s, were the dominant force in Jewish education—both formal and informal—in the United States.

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Jewhooing the Sixties

American Celebrity and Jewish Identity—Sandy Koufax, Lenny Bruce, Bob Dylan, and Barbra Streisand

David E. Kaufman

A lively look at four major Jewish celebrities of early 1960s America, who together made their mark on both American culture and Jewish identity Sandy Koufax, Lenny Bruce, Bob Dylan, and Barbra Streisand first came to public attention in the early 1960s, a period Kaufman identifies as historically ripe for American Jews to reexamine their (Jewish) identities. All four achieved extraordinary success in their respective fields and became celebrities within an American context, while at the same time they were clearly identifiable as Jews—although they were perceived to be Jewish in very different ways. Kaufman investigates these celebrities’ rise to fame, the specific brand of Jewishness each one represented, and how their fans and the public at large perceived their ethnic identity as Jews. Situating Koufax, Bruce, Dylan, and Streisand within the larger history of American Jewish celebrity, Kaufman argues that the four early 1960s figures represent a turning point between celebrity Jews of the past—such as Hank Greenberg, Groucho Marx, Irving Berlin, and Fanny Brice—and those of the present, such as Jon Stewart, Matisyahu, and Natalie Portman. Providing an entry into Jewish celebrity studies, this lively narrative explores the intersection between popular celebrity and Jewish identity and thereby examines the cultural construction of Jewishness in the latter half of the twentieth century.

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Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court

From Brandeis to Kagan

David G. Dalin

Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court examines the lives, legal careers, and legacies of the eight Jews who have served or who currently serve as justices of the U.S. Supreme Court: Louis D. Brandeis, Benjamin Cardozo, Felix Frankfurter, Arthur Goldberg, Abe Fortas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, and Elena Kagan.

David Dalin discusses the relationship that these Jewish justices have had with the presidents who appointed them, and given the judges’ Jewish background, investigates the antisemitism some of the justices encountered in their ascent within the legal profession before their appointment, as well as the role that antisemitism played in the attendant political debates and Senate confirmation battles.

Other topics and themes include the changing role of Jews within the American legal profession and the views and judicial opinions of each of the justices on freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the death penalty, the right to privacy, gender equality, and the rights of criminal defendants, among other issues.

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Jewish Renaissance and Revival in America

Eitan P. Fishbane

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.

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Learning and Community

Jewish Supplementary Schools in the Twenty-First Century

Jack Wertheimer

At a time of heightened interest in Jewish supplementary schooling, this volume offers a path-breaking examination of how ten diverse schools have remade themselves to face the new challenges of the twenty-first century. Each written by an academic observer with the help of an experienced educator, the chapters bring these schools vividly to life by giving voice to students, parents, teachers, school directors, lay leaders, local rabbis and other key participants.

The goal of the book is to uncover the building blocks each school put into place to improve its delivery of a Jewish education. Employing qualitative research, Learning and Community is filled with moving and inspiring human-interest stories. Collectively, these portraits offer models of how schools of different sizes and configurations can maximize their impact, and in the process revitalize the form of religious and cultural education that engages the majority of Jewish children in the United States.

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Louis Bamberger

Department Store Innovator and Philanthropist

Linda B. Forgosh

Louis Bamberger (1855–1944) was the epitome of the merchant prince as public benefactor. Born in Baltimore, this son of German immigrants built his business—the great, glamorous L. Bamberger & Co. department store in Newark, N.J.—into the sixth-largest department store in the country. A multimillionaire by middle age, he joined the elite circle of German Jews who owned Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Filene’s. Despite his vast wealth and local prominence, Bamberger was a reclusive figure who shunned the limelight, left no business records, and kept no diaries. He remained a bachelor and kept his private life and the rationale for his business decisions to himself.

Yet his achievements are manifold. He was a merchandising genius whose innovations, including newspaper and radio ads and brilliant use of window and in-store displays, established the culture of consumption in twentieth-century America. His generous giving, both within the Jewish community and beyond it, created institutions that still stand today: the Newark YM-YWHA, Beth Israel Hospital, and the Newark Museum. Toward the end of his career, he financed and directed the creation of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, which led to a friendship with Albert Einstein.

Despite his significance as business innovator and philanthropist, historians of the great department stores have paid scant attention to Bamberger. This full-length biography will interest historians as well as general readers of Jewish history nationally, New Jerseyans fascinated by local history, and the Newarkers for whom Bamberger’s was a beloved local institution.

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The New Jewish Leaders

Reshaping the American Jewish Landscape

A riveting study of a generational transition with major implications for American Jewish life By the end of the twentieth century, a new generation of leaders had begun to assume positions of influence within established organizations. They quickly launched a slew of new initiatives directed at their age peers. Born during the last quarter of the twentieth century, these leaders came of age in a very different America and a different Jewish world than earlier generations. Not surprisingly, their worldview and understanding of Jewish issues set them apart from their elders, as does their approach to organizing. Based upon extensive interviews and survey research, as well as an examination of the websites frequented by younger Jews and personal observation of their programs, The New Jewish Leaders presents a pioneering account of the renewal of American Jewish community. This book describes how younger Jews organize, relate to collective Jewish efforts, and think about current Jewish issues. It also offers a glimpse of how they re-envision American Jewish communal arrangements. What emerges is a fascinating exploration of Jewish community in America today—and tomorrow.

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Overweight Sensation

The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman

Mark Cohen

Allan Sherman was the Larry David, the Adam Sandler, the Sacha Baron Cohen of 1963. He led Jewish humor and sensibilities out of ethnic enclaves and into the American mainstream with explosively funny parodies of classic songs that won Sherman extraordinary success and acclaim across the board, from Harpo Marx to President Kennedy. In Overweight Sensation, Mark Cohen argues persuasively for Sherman's legacy as a touchstone of postwar humor and a turning point in Jewish American cultural history. With exclusive access to Allan Sherman's estate, Cohen has written the first biography of the manic, bacchanalian, and hugely creative artist who sold three million albums in just twelve months, yet died in obscurity a decade later at the age of forty-nine. Comprehensive, dramatic, stylish, and tragic, Overweight Sensation is destined to become the definitive Sherman biography.

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Raising Secular Jews

Yiddish Schools and Their Periodicals for American Children, 1917–1950

Naomi Prawer Kadar

This unique literary study of Yiddish children’s periodicals casts new light on secular Yiddish schools in America in the first half of the twentieth century. Rejecting the traditional religious education of the Talmud Torahs and congregational schools, these Yiddish schools chose Yiddish itself as the primary conduit of Jewish identity and culture. Four Yiddish school networks emerged, which despite their political and ideological differences were all committed to propagating the Yiddish language, supporting social justice, and preparing their students for participation in both Jewish and American culture.

Focusing on the Yiddish children’s periodicals produced by the Labor Zionist Farband, the secular Sholem Aleichem schools, the socialist Workmen’s Circle, and the Ordn schools of the Communist-aligned International Workers Order, Naomi Kadar shows how secular immigrant Jews sought to pass on their identity and values as they prepared their youth to become full-fledged Americans.

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