Halpern, Benjamin

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HALPERN, BENJAMIN (Ben, 1912–1990), U.S. sociologist, educator, and Zionist. Halpern, who was born in Boston, Massachusetts, was active in the Zionist movement and Jewish affairs from his youth. He served as national secretary of the He-Ḥalutz Organization of America (1936–37), managing editor of the Jewish Frontier magazine (1943–49), and associate director of the departments of culture, education, and publications of the Jewish Agency (1949–56). In 1956 Halpern became research associate in Middle Eastern studies at Harvard University. He began his association with Brandeis University in 1962 and was subsequently appointed professor of Near Eastern studies there, retiring in 1981. He was a member of the Jewish Agency Executive from 1968 to 1972. Halpern's scholarly work was closely associated with his Jewish and Labor Zionist commitments and interests. His numerous publications, many of which were published in Jewish Frontier and Midstream magazines, deal chiefly with problems of Zionism, Israeli society, and the role of the Jews in U.S. society. In his The American Jew: A Zionist Analysis (1956), which deals with both the implications and realities of assimilation and differences and similarities between U.S. Jews and other Jewish communities, Halpern contends that Jews will never be completely accepted into U.S. life as long as they remain Jews. Halpern's most important book is The Idea of the Jewish State (19692), which traces the development of Zionism both as an ideology and a movement. He also wrote Clash of Heroes: Brandeis, Weizmann, and American Zionism (1987).

[Werner J. Cahnman]