American Jewish History and Culture

As one of the earliest non-Christian immigrant populations, American Jews have struggled to explain how they could nonetheless fit into American cultural, political and social life. At the same time, many Jews have been concerned with their own survival as a distinctive group, unwilling to cede those practices, behaviors or traits that designate them as a people apart from other Americans. The student of American-Jewish history must be attuned to the multiple ways that Jewishness has been defined: as a race, a religion, a nationality, and an ethnicity. In this course, far from choosing just one of these designations, we will explore Jewish life from many different angles. Topics to be considered include religious reform, immigrant experience, political activism, popular culture, and struggles over community authority and membership.


This syllabus was created for the Young Scholars in American Religion program.

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