Chapter 21: Middle Eastern Family Part I: Judaism
Middle Eastern Family Part I: Judaism
Consult the "Contents" pages to locate the entries in Part III, the Directory Listings Sections, that comprise this family.
"O give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who alone does great wonders, to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who spread out the earth upon the waters, to him who made the great lights, the sun to rule over the day, the moon and stars to rule over the night, to him who smote the first-born of Egypt, and brought Israel out from among them, with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, to him who divided the Red Sea in sunder, and made Israel pass through the midst of it, but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, to him who led his people through the wilderness, to him who smote great kings, and slew famous kings, Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, king of Bashan, and gave their land as a heritage, a heritage to Israel his servant, for his steadfast love endures forever." (Psalm 136) In this song to the steadfast love of Yahweh written in a later era, the story of the origin of the Jewish community is told. Recounted are the events during the life of Moses, a Hebrew and the adopted son of a pharaoh of Egypt. Reared a prince, Moses forsook his palace to lead his enslaved people out of Egypt, into the wilderness and to the very edge of their new home in Canaan, where he mediated to them the Covenant Law (Torah). These events and the subsequent movement into Canaan welded the nomadic tribes into a nation and made Moses the founder of one of the world's great faiths. While there is a history before Moses, it was the Exodus-Sinai event that made the people. The history of the Jewish people is found in the Torah, Prophets, and Writings, which together comprise what Christians call the Old Testament. A second great body of writings, the Talmud, begun as an exegetical commentary on Scripture, and including other religious wisdom, was written over the period of a millennium following the time of exile.
The next major event that changed the course of Israel's history was the Diaspora, the scattering of the Jews beyond Jerusalem. Never a happy people under outside rulers or occupation armies, the Jews had continuously made trouble for Rome. In 70 C.E., in an attempt to solve the problem, a Roman army destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. With the destruction of the Temple, Jewish worship and religious life was changed. It had to be refocused upon the synagogue (congregation), and the Jews were scattered abroad as never before. There had, of course, been Jewish communities throughout the Mediterranean basin before this time, but now the center of Jewish life shifted to these dispersed communities.
During the Middle Ages, Jews established communities throughout Europe. Times of tolerant acceptance were interspersed with persecution, attempts at forced conversion, and the emergence of a few Jews as prominent money lenders. Lending money for profit, an almost necessary practice in modern states, was denied Christians at this time.
Throughout modern history, Jews have settled in Europe, looking for a home in the midst of exile. They rose to positions of power. Always committed to education, they produced many of the molders of Western culture– Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Martin Buber, Ludwig Wittenstein. Nonetheless, they periodically suffered intense persecution.
One cannot understand contemporary American Jews without grasping their reaction to the most brutal episode of the Diaspora: the Holocaust. In Germany during World War II the Nazis exterminated more than six million Jews–men, women, and children–in an almost successful attempt to eliminate them from the continent.
As a result of the Holocaust, an independent Jewish state was finally established in Palestine. The establishment of Israel was both the aftermath of the Holocaust and the culmination of a Zionist movement that had begun in the late nineteenth century. Among the Jews, the overwhelming majority is now at least nominally Zionist; there are only a few small anti-Zionist organizations in the United States.
Jewish beliefs begin and end in the Exodus. It was this event that called the community together and it is from this event that the community draws its life. Beliefs and morals, ritual and custom, all are all ultimately derived from or inspired by the covenant made at Sinai. Central to these beliefs is the Shema, which is repeated in the morning and evening synagogue service: "Hear O Israel, the Lord Our God is One Lord" (Deut. 6:4).
Also basic are the beginning sentences in the Covenant document of Sinai, popularly known as the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1–7):
"And God spoke all these words, saying, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
"You shall have no other gods before me. "You shall not make yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God, in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them and rested the seventh day; therefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.
"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.
"You shall not kill. "You shall not commit adultery. "You shall not steal. "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor's."
While making creeds has never been a Jewish preoccupation, on a number of occasions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, attempts to summarize Jewish belief have been made. Many of these began with the twelfth century creed authored by Moses Maimonides, the most acceptable traditional summary of Jewish belief. In 13 statements, Maimonides affirmed belief in one God who is incorporeal and eternal, the only object of true prayer. The biblical Moses is cited as the greatest prophet due to his reception of God's law, which will never be changed or superceded. God acts in history to punish evildoers and reward the just. At some point in the future a Messiah will come. Also, there will be a resurrection from the dead.
As the Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist branches of Judaism have arisen, they each have produced statements summarizing their disagreements with traditional orthodoxy and setting forth their distinctive teachings. For example, the Columbus Platform of 1937, the most definitive statement of Reform Judaism, speaks to the issue of law (Torah) in which it differs from Orthodoxy, but then goes on to speak to issues of ethics, social justice, peace, and the nature of the religious life, not mentioned by Maimonides. [The text of these various statements have been compiled in The Encyclopedia of American Religions: Religious Creeds.]
Basic to Judaism is the concept of Torah. Narrowly, Torah is the Book of Moses, the five books in the Christian Old Testament known as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. It is the story of God's calling a nation. More broadly, however, Torah is a teaching, a way of life based on the dictates of Israel's God given in the written Torah. More broadly still, Torah is the covenant of Israel by which Yahweh became their God and Israel became Yahweh's people.
No description of Jewish life would be complete without mention of the notion of the chosen people. Always undergirding Jewish actions has been the belief, more or less articulated, that Yahweh had chosen the Jews for a special role. This choosing occurred at the time of Abraham and was reaffirmed at the Exodus–Sinai event and, while the exact significance of this new status has been widely debated, it remains a controlling concept. The effect on Jewish life of this idea has been tremendous, both in keeping the Jews from too ready an assimilation in their many surrounding cultures and in making them easy targets for persecution.
Also important to Judaism are the five great feasts. Passover, in early spring, is a commemoration of the Exodus–Sinai event with specific reference to the Lord's passing over Jewish homes when he slew the first-born in each household in Egypt (Exodus 12). Pentecost, in late May or early June, commemorates the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses. The Feast of Tabernacles marks the Jewish wanderings in the desert (Exodus 23:14, 34:23). The Feast of Lights or Hanukkah celebrates the purification of the Temple in 164 B.C.E. by the Maccabees after its defilement by Antiochus Epiphanes, a Syrian ruler. Purim honors the rescue of the Jewish people by Mordecai and the heroine, Esther.
The important days in the Jewish calendar begin with Rosh Hashana, New Year's Day, which is followed by 10 days of penitence. This period culminates in the single most important day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
The basic organization of Judaism is the congregation or synagogue, which may be constituted wherever there are 10 males known as a minyan. This is the basic governing body in Judaism, which is congregationally structured. The synagogue has as its pastor a rabbi (teacher). The congregation usually sponsors a school for its children. The school may be conducted only one day per week for several hours to give minimum preparation for Bar Mitzvah, the coming of age ceremony for Jewish youth, but ideally, the synagogue would have a total educational system to meet both secular and religious needs.
JEWS IN AMERICA. The story of Jews in America began in the fifteenth century with the arrival of Columbus. Several of the members of the crew were converted Jews, victims of the Spanish persecution. There are even some who have attempted to make a case that Columbus was a Jew, though the evidence is far from convincing at present. The Spanish and Portuguese Jews helped finance Columbus' voyages, and many early Jews in America were Marranos, secret Jews who had accepted Christian baptism but still practiced their Jewish faith in the privacy of their homes, a practice kept alive in the face of the Inquisition in Spain. Others were refugees, Jews who were exiled for not converting to Christianity.
Many refugees fled to Holland, became prosperous, and produced many great scholars and thinkers, such as Baruch Spinoza. When the Dutch made war in Brazil and South America in the early 1600s, many Marranos there sided with them as a fifth column. The first openly Jewish community in the Americas– Kahal Kodesh, the Holy Congregation–was founded in Recife, Brazil, in the 1630s. Recife fell to the Portuguese in 1654 and the Jews had to immigrate. Many returned to Holland; others moved to new Dutch settlements in America. Curacao, a Dutch island off Venezuela, became the location of a congregation in 1656, the oldest still in existence in the New World.
Some of the fleeing Jews came to New York City, then New Amsterdam, where they joined the few Jews who had migrated directly from Holland to continue their trading. Peter Stuyvesant, the governor, was not happy to have Jewish refugees; it was only over a period of time that a cemetery, a congregation, and a synagogue were allowed. A corner of the old cemetery can still be visited in Manhattan.
In 1682, after New York had become English property, toleration was granted and a building was rented for use as a synagogue. In 1728, the group organized as Congregation Shearith Israel, the Remnant of Israel, and built the first synagogue. The second settlement of Jews in an area now part of the United States, often claiming precedence over the New York settlement, was in Newport, Rhode Island. Religious toleration and the opportunity to trade were the two attractions for Jewish settlers. The cemetery, founded in 1677, is older than New York's. The synagogue, built in 1763, still stands, but the congregation was dispersed during the Revolution when the British captured Newport. The Jews were rebels and only a few returned after the war. At present, the old synagogue is being used by a new group of Eastern European immigrants who are completely unrelated to the original settlers.
Other Jewish communities in the United States began to appear after the Revolution, composed of immigrants and the few Jews scattered throughout the colonies. Evidence of Jews in New England before 1780 is sparse, though one Judah Morris got a master's degree in arts at Harvard in 1820. In 1822, he became a Christian and taught Hebrew at the Cambridge School. Other early centers of Judaism were Philadelphia and Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Richmond, Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina; and Savannah, Georgia. The Jews thus were here at the founding of the nation and the group has grown with the nation as an integral part of its history. In this respect, the Jews differ radically from other non-Christian religious communities that established their first organizations in America in the nineteenth century.
All the early Jews in America were Sephardim; that is, they came from Spain and Portugal or were descendants of Jews from these countries. All six pre-nineteenth century congregations (New York, Newport, Philadelphia, Savannah, Charleston and Richmond) were Sephardic in ritual. The Sephardim were soon joined by Ashkenazim, Jews from Germany and central Europe, mostly Poland. There were differences of rite between the two, and there was also a feeling among the Sephardim that they were the elite of the Jewish community. Thus, in 1802 in Philadelphia and in 1825 in New York City, the Ashkenazim withdrew to form their own organization.
Before 1836, immigration of Jews had been an individual matter. After 1836, immigrations of entire groups of Jews from single locations in Europe, primarily Germany and the German-speaking areas in Central Europe, began. These poor immigrants, mostly retail merchants, formed most of the Jewish communities in inland American cities.
Eastern European Jews had arrived in small numbers in the eighteenth century and, in 1848, the first Eastern European synagogue was formed in Buffalo, New York. But motivated by pogroms and Russia's anti-Jewish decrees, mass immigrations began in 1881. To the 250,000 Jews in the United States in 1880 were added almost two million from Eastern Europe. In 1880, there were 270 synagogues; in 1916, before World War I halted the immigration, there were 1,902.
With the arrival of the Eastern European Jews, a new issue arose within the American Jewish community–Zionism. In contradistinction to German Jews who saw Judaism as primarily a religion, Eastern European Jews saw it as a religious culture and nationality. Following the lead in 1896 of Viennese journalist Theodor Herzl, they began to clamor for a Jewish homeland. The first American Zionist Congress was held in 1897. The Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform) reacted by unanimously condemning Zionism. The early recognition of the growth of Zionism came with the 1917 Balfour Declaration that committed England to the Zionist cause. The United States endorsed the declaration in 1922 along with its acceptance of the British protectorate of Palestine. These actions, and the dedication to the cause by outstanding Jewish leaders such as Louis D. Brandeis, finally swung the support of American Jews behind Zionism. By 1945, 80 percent of American Jews favored a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine. The founding of Israel has turned Zionism mainly into a program of support for Israel, a program of fund-raising and political lobbying.
During the twentieth century, the Jewish community became a settled and stable feature of American life and began to build synagogues and schools in urban centers throughout the land. Various national fellowships of rabbis and congregations formed as divisions on ritual law and the nature of Judaism developed. The main organizations were formed around the well-known distinctions of Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and, more recently, Reconstructionist Judaism. Less well known was the development of the Hasidic community in Brooklyn after World War I. This community was small until 1946, when large migrations of survivors of the Holocaust began. The Hasidim, at one time nearly half of European Jewry, now appear to be remaking the Jewish community as it grows, through both evangelistic efforts and a high birth rate.
Through the twentieth century, Jewish culture permeated every area of American life though Jews are best known for their contributions to medicine, psychotherapy, law, entertainment, and business. Given their emphasis on education, Jews have excelled in every field in the academy. Their slow but steady entry into prominence in the national political scene was capped in 2000 with the nomination of Senator Joseph Lieberman (Connecticut) as the Democratic candidate for vice-president.
JEWS IN CANADA. Though the first Jews in what is Canada today came there during the French era, they were officially banned by the French government from settlement in New France. Hence it was not until the British founding of Halifax in 1749 that a Jewish community became visible. A small Sephardic community organized early in Halifax, and is first known from its purchase of a cemetery in 1750. It was short-lived, however, and a more permanent settlement of primarily British Jews, most of whom were merchants, emerged at the end of the decade in Lower Canada (Quebec). Congregation Shearith Israel, modeled on the Sephardic congregation in London and on the one with the same name in New York City, opened as the first such synagogue in Canada. A building was erected in 1777. A second synagogue was founded at Three Rivers at the end of the century. The community grew slowly, and 50 years after the congregation was founded, there were still less than 100 Jews in the Canadian colonies.
The 1840s saw the emergence of a Jewish community in Toronto, Upper Canada (now Ontario). In 1849 the Toronto Hebrew Congregation was founded. It was followed in 1856 by the Sons of Israel congregation, organized by English Jews. These congregations were merged in 1858 to become the Toronto Hebrew Congregation-Holy Blossom Temple. Other early congregations were founded in Hamilton and Kingston. Most of the Jews came to Canada from England, and few German Jews ventured that far north. As a result, a Reform Jewish community never really developed there.
In 1881, Czar Alexander II was assassinated, and a pogrom against the Jews began the next year. Russian Jews began a mass exodus to North America. During the 1880s, a string of congregations was established across Canada. Many of the newcomers went west into the newly opened territories, especially Winnipeg, which developed Canada's third largest Jewish community. In 1881 there were only 2,393 Jews in Canada (more than 2,000 of which were in Quebec and Ontario). By the end of the century that number had grown to 16,000, and by 1920 it had grown to more than 125,000. As the community grew, it continued to concentrate in the three cities of Montreal, Toronto, and Winnipeg.
The absence of the wave of German Jewish immigration that so altered American Jewry has given Canadian Jewry a distinctively Orthodox cast. By 1953 there were but three Reform congregations, though 10 more were added by 1970. The majority of the nineteenth century congregations have become Conservative in orientation and by 1960 there were more than 20 such centers affiliated with the United Synagogues of America. In contrast, by 1970 there were approximately 175 Orthodox congregations, some affiliated with the congregational associations in the United States and some unaffiliated.
By 1981, there had been some shift in the community, including a consolidation of synagogues and the emergence of a stronger Conservative element, though the community remained decidedly Orthodox. Of 112 synagogues reported that year, 53 were Orthodox, 43 Conservative, 14 Reform, and 2 Reconstructionist.
As early as 1919 there was an attempt to organize a Canadian Jewish Congress, but it soon dissolved. It was revived in 1934, in the face of the Nazi threat, and is noteworthy in facilitating the immigration of more than 40,000 Jews to Canada after World War II. Today it is headquartered in Montreal.
HASIDISM. The phenomenon of the mystic, reacting to formal religion by seeking a closer direct experience of the divine, is common in religious history. Judaism has had its share of mysticism. In the late Middle Ages, the Messianic claimant, Shabbetai Zevi(b. 1676), offered such a direction. In the following century, a more stable form would appear in Hasidism, a Kabbalistic Judaism attributable to the efforts of Israel Baal Shem Tov (1700–1760), a rabbi in Ukraine.
Hasidic teachings are plainly Orthodox but also mystical. Baal Shem Tov taught that all men were equal before God and that piety, devotion, purity, prayer, and the Torah were more important than study, learning, or ascetic practices. The Kabbalah provided a framework for mystic integration of the Bible. [The Kabbalah is discussed as a Jewish magical system in the preceding chapter.] The virtues of Shiflut (humility), Simcha (joy), and Hillahavut (enthusiasm) were emphasized. The movement spread rapidly and, at its height, attracted about half the Jews in Europe, particularly those in Poland and the Slavic countries.
Organizationally, the movement began to focus on local charismatic leaders called the zaddikim, or righteous ones. Unlike the rabbi, or teacher, known for his scholarship and wisdom, the zaddik, who might also be a rabbi, was honored for his mystic powers–miracle working, shamanism, and personal magnetism. Organizationally, zaddikim came to lead segments of the movement and created dynasties by passing on the charisma to sons or followers. Thus schools or sub-sects, as in Sufism, were formed.
The Hasidic movement aroused the indignation of non-Hasidic Jews, and a lengthy, bitter era of polemic followed. Eventually, Hasidism was forced to retreat. The twentieth century brought new problems as pogroms began in Russia. Many Hasidim migrated. The Holocaust, of course, all but wiped out European Hasidism. Fortunately, many of the rebbes, a common title for the zaddikim, escaped and sought to make new homes for their followers in Israel and America.
The first Hasidim in America were members of that initial wave of Eastern European immigrants to America that began in the 1880s. For lack of a Hasidic synagogue or zaddik (all of whom were still in Europe), they often became indistinguishable from other Orthodox Jews. Separated from their zaddik, they became discouraged in the attempt to perpetuate Hasidism. After World War I, several zaddikim came to the United States, including the Ukrainian Twersky Zaddik. They gathered followers, but did not begin to reach outward to seek new believers. The real era of Hasidic growth in the United States began after World War II. Led by the Lubavicher Rebbe, Hasidic zaddikim, especially from Poland and Hungary, came to the United States after escaping from Hitler.
The Hasidim, as a whole, settled in Brooklyn in that section designated as Williamsburg. There they have created a unique social structure–an isolated urban religious culture. Williamsburg is a haven of "true" Judaism. They have been able not only to survive but even prosper, in spite of an economic system that seeks to assimilate them. The vitality of Hasidism is shown in the emergence of new Hasidic groups among younger Jews. A strong emphasis on tradition, social service, celebration, communal life, and experiment with radical ideas is characteristic of their lifestyle. Though largely ignored by most writers on American Judaism, the Hasidim are currently the fastest growing segment of American Judaism. This growth comes from both proselytization within the wider Jewish community and a high birth rate.
BLACK JEWS. Among the black population of the early nineteenth century were some individuals who became legends as regular worshipers at the local synagogues. Possibly the most famous was Old Billy, who in the first half of the nineteenth century was a faithful attendant at the Charleston, South Carolina, synagogue. He described himself as a Rachabite (Jeremiah 35:2ff) and, accordingly, abstained from all wines and liquor. Other black members have been noted by various authors. To this day, and in growing numbers since the 1950s, there are black members of white Jewish congregations.
A real spur to African Americans to elect Judaism as an alternative to Christianity was the discovery in the late nineteenth century by French explorer Joseph Halevy of the Falashas, the Black Jews of Ethiopia, now generally known as Beta Israel. For centuries a legend had circulated in Europe that Black Jews, descendants of the Queen of Sheba, had lived in Ethiopia, but most believed that if they ever existed they had long ago disappeared. Knowledge in the West of their present existence increased in the 1920s, when Jacques Faitlovitch of the University of Geneva followed up previous pro-Falasha committee activities with a passionate revival of efforts to aid them. While African American Jews like to identify with them, Beta Israel has little direct connection with Judaism in the African American community. As a matter of fact, much recent scholarship has concluded that the Beta Israel may in fact not be Negroid, though in addition to Beta Israel, isolated pockets of African Black Jews, products of interracial marriages, have been discovered.
While the African Jews supplied much inspiration for the American Black Jewish movement, the biblical faith of rural America supplied the content. Black people, Bible students, were quick to identify with the Ethiopians and, in their search for identity and status in the white culture, began to see a special place for themselves as Jews. Proponents cite all the references to the Ethiopians (such as I Kings 10, Isaiah 18:1–2, Amos 9:7 and Acts 8:26–40); attempts are also made to prove that the true Jews were black. Psalm 119:83, in which the author sees himself as becoming like a bottle (King James Version) in the smoke, is a passage popularly quoted as proof of the existence of black Jews in biblical times.
The Christian biblical origin of the movement is made by the early leaders who articulated its postulates. Warren Roberson, one of the first prophets of Black Jewishness, spoke of himself as a second Jesus Christ. Another called his group the Church of God and Saints of Christ. It would be hard to find a more Christian designation.
Along with Rabbi Richileiu's Moorist Zionist Temple, the contemporary Black Jewish movement is generally traced to three men who appeared in Northern urban black centers at the turn of the century. Two of these, F. S. Cherry and William S. Crowdy, founded movements that still exist and are discussed in entries below. The third, the first of several New York City-based leaders, was Elder Warren Roberson. Roberson was a notorious charismatic leader who alternated between being Messianic and being a sex cult priest. He spent several terms in jail, which only added to his aura as a persecuted black savior.
Roberson's group and its several spin-offs, such as Rabbi Ishi Kaufman's Gospel of the Kingdom Temple, were swept up into the Garveyite movement. Coming from the West Indies, Marcus Garvey instilled within his followers and admirers a dream of a black nation where black men would rule. Since white Christianity had enslaved and tamed black people, an alternative had to be found. Judaism provided one such alternative. With the encouragement of Arnold Josiah Ford, Garvey's choirmaster and self-proclaimed Ethiopian Jew, a new phase of history began.
Ford tried to get Garvey to accept Judaism, but he refused, whereupon Ford organized the Moorish Zionist Church, in which he taught that all Africans were Hebrews. He followed Garvey's nationalistic program. He united his efforts with another self-professed Jew, Mordecai Herman, but they soon parted ways. Ford then organized, in 1924, the Beth B'nai Abraham (BBA) congregation. Both groups were able to obtain funds from white Jews, which allowed them to survive through the next decade. Additionally, elements of Islamic lore (possibly also from the Garvey movement) crept into Ford's theology.
The BBA came to an abrupt end in 1931 when Ford decided to sail for Europe. He gave his blessing to a new leader, Went-worth Arthur Matthew, whose career initiated the present phase of Black Judaism. Ford disappeared to Africa (he later died in Ethiopia), but had laid the groundwork for a widespread Black Judaism. Today, a number of independent synagogues are located in black urban areas around the country.
Meanwhile, the Beta Israel, facing a wave of persecution in Ethiopia, launched efforts to migrate to Israel, but were blocked both by Ethiopia's emmigration policies and the reluctance of rabbinical authorities in Israel to recognize them under the law of return that offered open doors to any people officially defined as Jewish. However, in 1972, Rabbi Ovadia Yossef, Israel's Chief Sephardic Rabbi, affirmed their Jewishness, a position reaffirmed in 1975 by Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren. Subsequently more than 35,000 Ethiopian Jews have been relocated to Israel.
Sources–The Middle Eastern Family, Part I
For its size, the Jewish community is one of the most scholarly in North America. Study of Judaism is integral to the various institutions of higher learning and the history and culture of American Jews is particularly the domain of the American Jewish Historical Society headquartered at 2 Thornton Rd., Waltham, MA 02154. The Society publishes American Jewish History (quarterly) and has established a network of local Jewish historical groups across North America.
Bamberger, Bernard J. The Story of Judaism. New York: Schocken Books, 1964. 484 pp.
Neusner, Jacob. The Way of Torah: An Introduction to Judaism. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1992.
Robinson, George. Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs and Rituals. New York: Pocket Books, 1999. 656 pp.
Rosenthal, Gilbert S. The Many Faces of Judaism. New York: Behrman House, 1978. 159 pp.
Seldin, Ruth. Image of the Jews, Teachers' Guide to Jews and Their Religion. New York: KTAV Publishing House, 1970. 151 pp.
Solomon, Norman. Historical Dictionary of Judaism. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1998. 528 pp.
Werblowsky, R. J. Zwi, and Geoffrey Wigoder. The Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965. 415 pp.
Judaism in America
Diner, Hasia R. Jews in America (Religion in American Life). New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. 44 pp.
——, and Beryl Lieff Benderly. Her Works Praise Her: A History of Jewish Women in America from Colonial Times to the Present. New York: Basic Books, 2002.
Farber, Robert Rosenberg, and Chaim Isaac Waxman, eds. Jews in America: A Contemporary Reader. (Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life) Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1999. 439 pp.
Feldstein, Stanley. The Land That I Show You. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1979. 606 pp.
Glazer, Nathan. American Judaism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957. 176 pp.
Gurock, Jeffrey S. America, American Jews, and the Holocaust (American Jewish History, 7). Boston: Routledge, 1997. 467 pp.
Hardon, John A. American Judaism. Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1971. 372 pp.
Hertzberg, Arthur. The Jews in America. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998. 409 pp.
Karp, Abraham J. A History of the Jews in America. New York: Jason Aronson, 1997. 504 pp.
Learsi, Rufus. The Jew in America: A History. Cleveland: World Publishing Co., 1954. 382 pp.
Lebeson, Anita Libman. Pilgrim People. New York: Minerva Press, 1975. 651 pp.
Marcus, Jacob Rader. The American Jew, 1585–1990: A History. Brooklyn: Carlson Publishing, Inc., 1995.
——. United States Jewry, 1776–1985. 4 Vols. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1993.
Neuhaus, Richard John, ed. The Chosen People in an Almost Chosen Nation: Jews and Judaism in America. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002.
Neusner, Jacob. Understanding American Judaism. 2 vols. New York: KTAV Publishing House, 1975.
Papo, Joseph M. Sephardim in Twentieth-Century America: In Search of Unity. San Jose: Pele Yoetz Books, 1987.
Ruderman, Jerome. Jews in American History, A Teacher's Guide. New York: KTAV Publishing House, 1974. 224 pp.
Sachar, Howard. A History of the Jews in America. New York: Knopf, 1992. 1051 pp.
Sarna, Jonathan D, ed. The American Jewish Experience. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1986.
Shapiro, Edward S. A Time for Healing: American Jewry Since World War II. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. 313 pp.
Sklare, Marshall. Observing America's Jews. Hanover, NH: Brandeis University Press, 1993.
Judaism in Canada
Abella, Irving. A Coat of many Colours: Two Centuries of Jewish Life in Canada. Toronto: Lester & Orpen Dennys Ltd., 1990. Golick, Peter Samuel. A Tribute to Freedom, 1832-2982: In Commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the declaration of Granting Equal Rights and Privileges to Persons of the Jewish religion. Montreal: Canadian Jewish Congress, 1982.
Gottesman, Eli, ed. Canadian Jewish reference book and Directory, 1963. Montreal: Jewish Institute of Higher Research, 1963.
Rome, David. 70 Years of Canadian Jewish Life, 1919–1989. Montreal: Canadian Jewish Congress, 1989.
Rosenberg, Stuart E. The Jewish Community in Canada: A History, Vol. I. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1970.
——. The Jewish Community in Canada in the Midst of Freedom, Vol. II. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1971.
Barish, Louis, and Rebecca Barish. Basic Jewish Beliefs. New York: Jonathan David, 1961. 222 pp.
Eisenstein, Ira. Varieties of Jewish Belief. New York: Reconstructionist Press, 1966. 270 pp.
Fackenheim, Emil L. God's Presence in History. New York: Harper & Row, 1970. 104 pp.
Gordis, Robert. Judaism for the Modern Age. New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1955. 368 pp.
Heschel, Abraham Joshua. God in Search of Man. New York: Meridian Books, 1959. 437 pp.
Neuser, Jacob. Understanding Jewish Theology. New York: KTAV Publishing House, 1973. 280 pp.
Jewish Life and Customs
Maslin, Simeon J., ed. Gates of Mitzvah. New York: Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1979. 165 pp.
Posner, Raphael, Uri Kaploun, and Shalom Cohon, eds. Jewish Liturgy. New York: Leon Ameil Publisher, 1975. 278 pp.
Trepp, Leo. The Complete Book of Jewish Observance. New York: Behrman House, 1980. 370 pp.
Abelson, J. Jewish Mysticism. New York: Hermon Press, 1969. 182 pp.
Aron, Milton. Ideas and Ideals of the Hassidim. New York: Citadel Press, 1969. 350 pp.
Belcove-Shalin, Janet S. New World Hasidism: Ethnographic Studies of Hasidic Jews in America (SUNY Series in Anthropology and Judaic Studies). Albany: State University Press of New York, 1995.
Bokser, Ben Zion. The Jewish Mystical Tradition. New York: Pilgrim Press, 1981. 277 pp.
Buber, Martin. The Origin and Meaning of Hassidism. New York: Horizon Press, 1960. 254 pp.
Dresner, Samuel H. The Zaddik. New York: Schocken Books, 1974. 312 pp.
Mintz, Jeome R. Hasidic People: A Place in the New World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992. 433 pp.
Rabinowitz, H. A Guide to Hassidism. New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1960. 163 pp.
Rubenstein, Aryeh. Hassidism. Jerusalem: Ketter Books, 1975. 120 pp.
Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust
Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust As Told in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1993.
Cohn, Norman. Warrant for Genocide. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1970. 336 pp.
Levin, Nora. The Holocaust. New York: Schocken Books, 1973. 768 pp.
Littell, Franklin H. The Crucifixion of the Jews. New York: Harper & Row, 1975. 153 pp.
Mitchell, Joseph R., and Helen Buss Mitchell. The Holocaust: Readings and Interpretations. New York: McGraw Hill, 2001.
Poliakov, Leon. The History of Anti-Semitism. New York: Schocken Books, 1974. 340 pp.
Singerman, Robert. Antisemitic Propaganda. New York: Garland Publishing, 1982. 448 pp.
Spector, Shmuel, and Geoffrey Wigoder, eds. The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life: Before and During the Holocaust. 3 vols. New York: New York University Press, 2001.
Tumin, Melvin M. An Inventory and Appraisal of Research on American Anti-Semitism. New York: Freedom Books, 1961. 185 pp.
ben-Jochanman, Josef. We: The Black Jews. New York: Alkebu-lan Books and Educational Materials Associates, 1983. 408 pp.
Goitein, S. D. From the Land of Sheba. New York: Schocken Books, 1973. 142 pp.
Landing, James M. Black Judaism: Story of an American Movement. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2002. 544 pp.
Rapoport, Louis. The Lost Jews. New York: Stein and Day, 1980. 252 pp.
Winsor, Rudolph R. From Babylon to Timbuktu. New York: Exposition Press, 1969. 151 pp.