American Judaism (Paperback)

A History

By Jonathan D. Sarna

Yale University Press, 9780300109764, 512pp.

Publication Date: October 24, 2005

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (3/1/2004)

List Price: 23.00*
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This magisterial work chronicles the 350-year history of the Jewish religion in America. Tracing American Judaism from its origins in the colonial era through the present day, Jonathan Sarna explores the ways in which Judaism adapted in this new context. How did American culture—predominantly Protestant and overwhelmingly capitalist—affect Jewish religion and culture? And how did American Jews shape their own communities and faith in the new world?
Jonathan Sarna, a preeminent scholar of American Judaism, tells the story of individuals struggling to remain Jewish while also becoming American. He offers a dynamic and timely history of assimilation and revitalization, of faith lost and faith regained.
The first comprehensive history of American Judaism in over fifty years, this book is both a celebration of 350 years of Jewish life in America and essential reading for anyone interested in American religion and life.

About the Author

Jonathan Sarna is Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University, and chairs the Academic Board of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives. Author or editor of more than twenty books on American Jewish history and life, he is also the chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History and of the 350th commemoration of Jewish life in America, 1654-2004.

Praise For American Judaism: A History

"Sarna . . . has written the first systematic, comprehensive, and coherent history of Judaism in America; one so well executed, it is likely to set the standard for the next 50 years."—Jacob Neusner, Jerusalem Post

"The first stop for scholars and students interested in exploring the religious dimensions of Jewish life in America. . . . A masterful overview."—Jeffrey S. Gurock, American Historical Review

"The field of American Jewish history has long needed an up-to-date and comprehensive one-volume treatment of that group's religious experience in America, and Jonathan D. Sarna is uncommonly qualified to compose such a work. . . . The first stop for scholars and students interested in exploring the religious dimensions of Jewish life in America. . . . This is a work that scholars will applaud for its depth of research and conceptualization.  General readers of all religious persuasions will be attracted to the book for what it tells about a minority group's struggles to maintain its identity in a host society.  Jewish readers will resonate particularly to its survivalist message."—Jeffrey S. Gurock, American Historical Review

". . . flows easily; readers don't need to be academics to enjoy this remarkable book…full of fascinating people and movements."—Ruth F. Brin, American Jewish World

"American Judaism isvitally important for anyone interested in the future of American Judaism. . . . The story flows easily; readers don’t need to be academics to enjoy this remarkable book. . . . This book is full of fascinating people and movements."—Ruth F. Brin, American Jewish World

"This book . . . belongs on the small shelf of outstanding books on American religion that have appeared over the past 15 years. . . . The breadth of scholarship displayed here is immense, yet the prose is accessible. The sources used, both literary and quantitative, are extensive."—Ronald Wells, Books & Culture

"From its colonial beginnings in New Amsterdam through the periods of the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Great Awakening, the Great War, and World War II to the present, Sarna richly details the diverse elements that have come together to chronicle and shape American Judaism. . . . Highly recommended."—Choice

"American Judaism is a masterpiece, the product of decades of study and writing. It will be indispensable to anyone who cares about the topic."—David Gelernter, Commentary

"[A] masterful analysis."—Gerald Sorin, Congress Monthly

"Sarna here presents a dynamic and ultimately optimistic view of American Judaism that traces the history of Jews from colonial days to the 21st century. . . . His highly readable yet scholarly book includes a glossary of terms, timeline and lengthy notes. It will likely be considered the definitive text on the subject—for Jews and non-Jews alike."—Robin Galiano Russell, Dallas Morning News

"[An] impressive narrative."—First Things

"Sarna’s probing is thoughtful, sensitive, informative, and optimistic. . . . Sarna prepared this work for the widest possible audience by in-text explanations of certain Jewish practices and definitions of terminology as well as a glossary."—Oliver B. Pollak, History: Reviews of New Books

"A definitive one-volume history. . . . A monumental achievement.  It is readable, gracefully so. . . . A rich and enriching story."—Edith Gelles, H-Net Reviews

"The book, which was simultaneously published in Israel in a Hebrew translation, will become the standard for historical surveys of American Jewry. For non-academics, the book is an easy and enjoyable read."—Aaron Howard, Houston Jewish Herald-Voice

"Jonathan Sarna has given us a masterful gift to commemorate the 350th anniversary of Jewish settlement in America. . . . He writes in a style that brings his knowledge and ideas alive to a wide spectrum of readers, Jewish and non-Jewish, scholars and lay people. This book is destined to be the new classic of American Jewish history."—Norman H. Finkelstein, Jewish Book World

Winner of the 2004 National Jewish Book Award, offered by the Jewish Book Council

Selected by Publishers Weekly as a Best Book of 2004 in the Religion category

Won Honorable Mention for the 2004 Professional/Scholarly Publishing Division Annual Award Competition in the Religion category

Selected as a finalist for the 2005 Koret Jewish Book Awards in the History category

Selected by Choice Magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2005

"This astonishingly comprehensive and detailed history of American Jewish life offers a fascinating analysis of the complex effects of pluralism upon Jewish continuity. A major contribution to American religious history."—Albert J. Raboteau, Princeton University

"Jonathan Sarna has written, what I personally believe, will be seen as the definitive book on American Judaism as we prepare to celebrate our 350th year in residence on these shores. We are at a point in this history when the American Jewish community is turning inward. We have come to realize it is time to reinvigorate and replenish our own community while still maintaining interest and support of our people throughout the world. In order to do this effectively we must know our story here in America, know how our vibrant and successful community was born and grew to its current heights. Dr. Sarna has given us the tool we need."—Carolyn Hessel, The Jewish Book Council

"Jonathan Sarna has concisely and brilliantly interpreted the history of Judaism in America from its marginal beginnings in the seventeenth century to its central mission of preserving Jewish faith and traditions during the era of the European Holocaust and on to the postwar challenge of intermarriage and assimilation. With great sensitivity and open-mindedness, Sarna traces the effects of Judaism on the larger society as well as the revolutionary transformations within Judaism itself—on spiritual as well as worldly levels."—David Brion Davis, author of Challenging the Boundaries of Slavery, Harvard University Press

"American Judaism providesa comprehensive and insightful portrait of the American Jewish experience. Sarna is magisterial as well as accessible in this work, and American Judaism willserve as the standard book in the field. American Judaism indicates why Sarna has earned his reputation as the premiere American Jewish historian of his generation!"—David Ellenson, President Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion

"This book is long overdue. There is no person more qualified than Jonathan Sarna to give us a fresh, important, and provocative perspective on American Judaism. In American Judaism: A New History hehas given us precisely that. We are the better for it."—Deborah E. Lipstadt, Ph.D., Emory University