Since Peter Stuyvesant greeted with enmity the first group of Jews to arrive on the docks of New Amsterdam in 1654, Jews have entwined their fate and fortunes with that of the United States—a project marked by great struggle and great promise. What this interconnected destiny has meant for American Jews and how it has defined their experience among the world's Jews is fully chronicled in this work, a comprehensive and finely nuanced history of Jews in the United States from 1654 through the end of the past century. Hasia R. Diner traces Jewish participation in American history—from the communities that sent formal letters of greeting to George Washington; to the three thousand Jewish men who fought for the Confederacy and the ten thousand who fought in the Union army; to the Jewish activists who devoted themselves to the labor movement and the civil rights movement.
Diner portrays this history as a constant process of negotiation, undertaken by ordinary Jews who wanted at one and the same time to be Jews and full Americans. Accordingly, Diner draws on both American and Jewish sources to explain the chronology of American Jewish history, the structure of its communal institutions, and the inner dynamism that propelled it. Her work documents the major developments of American Judaism—he economic, social, cultural, and political activities of the Jews who immigrated to and settled in America, as well as their descendants—and shows how these grew out of both a Jewish and an American context. She also demonstrates how the equally compelling urges to maintain Jewishness and to assimilate gave American Jewry the particular character that it retains to this day in all its subtlety and complexity.
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"Hasia Diner's history of American Jewry effortlessly surpasses its predecessors. A work of both synthesis and analysis, it ranges widely, incorporating insights from social, cultural, political, and religious history. Both the specialist and the general reader will profit from its clarity and intelligence. In particular, its novel periodization will spark discussion of conventional ways of thinking about the development of the American Jewish community."—Todd M. Endleman, author of The Jews of Britain, 1656 to 2000
"Author of many books on immigration, foodways, and other topics, Hasia Diner now brings us an exceptionally fine, candid, and often surprising one-volume narrative of the entire run of American Jewish history. Meticulously accurate yet smoothly flowing, it will enlighten and delight knowledgeable and new readers alike. A 'must read'-and now the best read-on the subject."—Walter T. Nugent, author of Crossings: The Great Transatlantic Migrations, 1870-1914
"The Jews of the United States is a masterful and richly textured account of the Jewish experience in this country over 350 years. Diner has produced an important book, at once systematic and synthetic, that attends to the many diverse expressions of Jewish life in America. With grace, clarity, and erudition, she explores the social, religious, and institutional life of Jews in the United States, enlivening her story throughout with intriguing personalities and anecdotes. This is history that engages, informs, and entertains. A milestone in American Jewish historiography!"—David Myers, author of Resisting History: Historicism and Its Discontents in German-Jewish Thought
Hasia R. Diner is Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History at New York University. She is the author of Lower East Side Memories: The Jewish Place in America (2000), Hungering for America: Italian, Irish, and Jewish Foodways in the Age of Migration (2001), and, with Beryl Benderly, Her Works Praise Her: A History of Jewish Women in America, 1654 to the Present (2002).
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