Coming to Terms with America

Essays on Jewish History, Religion, and Culture

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Jonathan D. Sarna
A JPS Scholar of Distinction Book
  • Lincoln, NE: 
    University of Nebraska Press
    , September
     2021.
     430 pages.
     $45.00.
     Hardcover.
    ISBN
    9780827615113.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.

Description

Coming to Terms with America examines how Jews have long “straddled two civilizations,” endeavoring to be both Jewish and American at once, from the American Revolution to today.

In fifteen engaging essays, Jonathan D. Sarna investigates the many facets of the Jewish-American encounter—what Jews have borrowed from their surroundings, what they have resisted, what they have synthesized, and what they have subverted. Part I surveys how Jews first worked to reconcile Judaism with the country’s new democratic ethos and to reconcile their faith-based culture with local metropolitan cultures. Part II analyzes religio-cultural initiatives, many spearheaded by women, and the ongoing tensions between Jewish scholars (who pore over traditional Jewish sources) and activists (who are concerned with applying them). Part III appraises Jewish-Christian relations: “collisions” within the public square and over church-state separation.

Originally written over the span of forty years, many of these essays are considered classics in the field, and several remain fixtures of American Jewish history syllabi. Others appeared in fairly obscure venues and will be discovered here anew. Together, these essays—newly updated for this volume—cull the finest thinking of one of American Jewry’s finest historians.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Jonathan D. Sarna is University Professor and the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, as well as the director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University. He is also the chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History. Sarna has written, edited, or coedited more than thirty books, including JPS: The Americanization of Jewish Culture 1888–1988 and American Judaism: A History, and is the winner of six awards, including the National Jewish Book Award’s Jewish Book of the Year.

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