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The Jews of the United States, 1654 to 2000

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The Jews of the United States, 1654 to 2000

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The Jews of the United States, 1654 to 2000
By Hasia R. Diner
University of California Press, (2004)
ISBN: 0-520-22773-5

Reviewed by Anna Dogole - February 14, 2005

The Jews in the United States have had a long and varied history. In The Jews of the United States, 1654 to 2000, Hasia R. Diner provides a riveting account of the fascinating history of American Jewry. Beginning in 1654 with the arrival of the first group of Jews to the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, through the year 2000, Diner provides a general, yet comprehensive survey of Jewish life in America. Throughout, she strives to illustrate the social, religious, and institutional life of the American Jews, while also explaining their relationships and interactions with non-Jewish Americans. Jewish immigration to the United States is covered in detail.

The Jews of the United States, 1654 to 2000 is the fourth volume in the Jewish Communities in the Modern World series and it provides a persuasive and illuminating account of Jewish communal life in the United States and how and why various communities differed from each other, both in terms of religiosity and in terms of their desire to be absorbed into the greater American community. She touches not just upon the major historical milestones of American Jewish life, but also upon some of the more important and influential social issues, such as the rise of Orthodox feminism, support for Israel, Jewish educational reforms, and labor unionism. Diner also looks at the darker side of Jewish life in America, from Antisemitism and pro-Nazism in the United States to anti-Jewish practices that denied Jews the right to stay at some hotels or join certain clubs.

Diner is a professor of American Jewish History at New York University, and she has written several books on Jewish American life including: Her Works Praise Her: A History of Jewish Women in America from Colonial Times to the Present and Lower East Side Memories: A Jewish Place in America. In The Jews of the United States, 1654 to 2000 she has written a readable and fascinating account of Jewish life in America. She has also included an invaluable and up-to-date bibliography. The text is organized both thematically and chronologically, and is divided into eight main chapters:
  1. American Jewish Origins: 1654-1776
  2. Becoming American: 1776-1820
  3. A Century of Migration: 1820-1924
  4. A Century of Jewish Life in America: 1820-1924
  5. A Century of Jewish Politics: 1820-1920
  6. At Home and Beyond: 1924-1948
  7. A Golden Age? 1948-1967
  8. In Search of Continuity: 1967-2000
The Jews of the United States, 1654 to 2000 is an ideal book for use in college-level general survey courses in Jewish History or as supplemental reading text in American History courses. It can also be used as a general text book in Jewish high schools or Sunday Schools. This book helps to put Jewish History in American in context to the overall national history of the country, and to show the various factors that have helped to shape what has long been, and continues to be, a vibrant and diverse conglomeration of Jewish communities throughout the country.

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