American Jews have been part of the national fabric since colonial times. The population has held steady since 1940 at about 5 million (2% of the U.S. population), but they have climbed from poverty to the top ranks of education, medicine, finance, Hollywood, and politics. They are the leaders of the liberal wing of the Democratic party, and lead in support for Israel and for philanthropic causes. With the large scale immigration of Jews from Germany in the 19th century, they established themselves in many small towns and cities. A much larger immigration of Eastern European Jews, 1880-1914, brought a large, poor, traditional element to New York City. Refugees arrived from Europe after World War II, and many arrived from the Soviet Union after 1970.


In the 1940s Jews comprised 3.7% of the national population. Today the population is about 5 million--under 2% of the national total--and shrinking because of small family sizes and intermarriage. The largest population centers are the metropolitan areas of New York (2.1 million in 2000), Los Angeles (668,000), Miami (331,000), Philadelphia (285,000), Chicago (265,000) and Boston (254,000).[1]

The German Jews were modernizers from the cities of Germany who became businessmen and founded the Reformed religious tradition. The East European Jews, spoke Yiddish (a variety of the German language), came from Russia and Poland and other parts of East Europe, and arrived poor. They established Orthodox Judaism. A third religious tradition, Conservative Judaism, midway between Reformed and Orthodox, also emerged in America.



Philanthropy was always a very high communal value among Jews, and the wealthy Reform Jews (of German background) who founded the American Jewish Committee in 1906 were mindful of their responsibility toward the large numbers of poor Yiddish-speaking East European Jews entering the country. Nevertheless they feared that these not-yet-Americanized masses--bringing with them Old World customs and alien ideologies, holding public rallies and protest meetings instead of working patiently through the existing Jewish establishment--threatened to create the wrong image in the public mind. The AJC did not want the American public to envision American Jewry as a foreign culture transplanted artificially to American shores. The profound fear, repeated over and over, was the risk of evoking an anti-Semitic reaction that would endanger the status of all American Jews. The AJC seeing itself as the natural "steward" of the community, took on the mission of educating the new arrivals in proper Americanism.

Jacob H. Schiff played a major role as a leader of the American Jewish community in the late 19th century. As a wealthy German Jew, Schiff made important decisions regarding the arrival of Eastern European Jewish immigrants. At a time of increasing demand for immigration restriction, Schiff supported and worked for Jewish Americanization. A Reform Jew, he backed the creation of the Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He took a stand favoring a modified form of Zionism, reversing his earlier opposition. Above all, Schiff believed that American Jewry could live in both the Jewish and American worlds, creating a balance that made possible an enduring American Jewish community.[2]

The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), founded in Chicago in 1893, had the goals of philanthropy and the Americanization of Jewish immigrants. Responding to the plight of Jewish women and girls from Eastern Europe, the NCJW created its Department of Immigrant Aid to assist and protect female immigrants from the time of their arrival at Ellis Island until their settlement at their final destination. The NCJW's Americanization program included assisting immigrants with housing, health, and employment problems, leading them to organizations where women could begin to socialize, and conducting English classes while helping them maintain a strong Jewish identity. The council, pluralistic rather than conformist, continued its Americanization efforts and fought against restrictive immigration laws after World War I. At the forefront of its activities was the religious education of Jewish girls, who were ignored by the Orthodox community. [3]

Self identity

Korelitz (1996) shows how American Jews during the late 19th and early 20th centuries abandoned a racial definition of Jewishness in favor of one that embraced ethnicity. The key to understanding this transition from a racial self-definition to a cultural or ethnic one can be found in the ‘’Menorah Journal’’ between 1915 and 1925. During this time contributors to the Menorah promoted a cultural, rather than a racial, religious, or other view of Jewishness as a means to define Jews in a world that threatened to overwhelm and absorb Jewish uniqueness. The journal represented the ideals of the menorah movement established by Horace M. Kallen and others to promote a revival in Jewish cultural identity and combat the idea of race as a means to define or identify peoples.[4]

Siporin (1990) uses the family folklore of ethnic Jews to their collective history and its transformation into an historical art form. They tell us how Jews have survived being uprooted and transformed. Many immigrant narratives bear a theme of the arbitrary nature of fate and the reduced state of immigrants in a new culture. By contrast, ethnic family narratives tend to show the ethnic more in charge of his life, and perhaps in danger of losing his Jewishness altogether. Some stories show how a family member successfully negotiated the conflict between ethnic and American identities.[5]

After 1960 memories of the Holocaust, together with the Six Day War in 1967 that resulted in the survival of Israel had major impacts on fashioning Jewish ethnic identity. The Shoah provided Jews with a rationale for their ethnic distinction at a time when other minorities were asserting their own.[6]

Social status

With very high education levels, the Jews after 1945 did very well in higher education, business, Hollywood, radio, real estate, and finance.


Since the 1820s organized philanthropy has been a core value of the Jewish community. In most cities the philanthropic organizations are the center of the Jewish community and activism is highly valued. Much of the money now goes to Israel, as well as hospitals and higher education; previously it went to poor Jews. This meant in the 1880-1930 era wealth German Reform Jews were subsidizing poor Orthodox newcomers, and helping their process of Americanization, thus helping bridge the cultural gap. This convergence brought Jews into the political debates in the 1900-1930 period over immigration restriction. Jews were the leading opponents of restrictions, but could not stop their passage in 1924 or their use to keep out most refugees from Hitler in the 1930s.[7]

Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932), a German Jew moved to Chicago in the late 1880s. Purchasing a half-interest in 1895, he transformed a small mail order house Sears, Roebuck into the largest retailer in America. He used his wealth for philanthropy targeted especially at the plight of rural blacks in collaboration with Booker T. Washington. From 1917-32 the Julius Rosenwald Foundation set up 5,357 public schools for blacks. He funded numerous hospitals for blacks in the South as well as twenty-four YMCA's; he was a major contributor to the NAACP and the National Urban league. His major contributions to the University of Chicago and to various Jewish philanthropies were on a similar grand scale. He spent $11 million to fund the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, after the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany, which he had visited in 1911.[8]


German Jews were Republicans; the Yiddish-speaking East Europeans were very active in Socialist movements and labor unions. They joined the New Deal Coalition in the 1930s and have been core members ever since. Jews vote 20%-30% more Democratic than the national average. The great majority of Jewish elected officials are liberal Democrats. The first Jew on a national ticket was Senator Joe Lieberman, the Democratic candidate for vice president in 2000. In 2006 he lost the Democratic primary in Connecticut because of his conservative foreign policy, but was reelected as an independent; he caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate. Jews never considered Barry Goldwater, the 1964 GOP candidate, Jewish.[9] In the last 100 years the most secular Jews have tended toward the most liberal or even leftist political views, while more religious Jews are politically more conservative. Modern Orthodox Jews have been less active in political movements that Reform Jews. They vote Republican more often than less traditional Jews. In contemporary political debate, strong Orthodox support for various school voucher initiatives undermines the exceptionalist belief that the Jewish community seeks a high and impenetrable barrier between church and state.[10] The East European Jews faced Anti-Semitism and tension with Irish and German Catholic neighbors. They set up their own businesses especially as merchants and manufacturers in the clothing business. By the 1930s they were a major political factor in New York, with strong support for the most liberal or socialist programs of the New Deal. They continued as a major element of the New Deal Coalition, giving special support to the Civil Rights Movement. By the mid 1960s, however, the Black Power movement caused a growing separation between blacks and Jews, though both groups remained solidly in the Democratic camp.[11]

Polls show that Jews in 2009 are quite liberal regarding government spending programs, civil liberties, and sexual morality, including support for abortion and gay rights. Most oppose government aid to parochial schools. Jews are close to average on some key issues. Most support the death penalty and oppose welfare; they are divided on affirmative action.

Turning right

The Six Day War of 1967 and the Yom Kippur War of 1973 transformed the American Jewish community. In contrast with widespread secularist and universalist values that previously were so highly valued by the Jewish community, and which fostered liberalism, many Jews turned inward. They supported the need for tougher policies to protect Israel from its hostile neighbors. With the cities burning every summer as black youth rioted and looted Jewish-owned business in the ghetto, and crime rates soaring, Jews left the inner cities and demanded "Law and Order" in the cities, while realizing their support for Civil Rights had backfired in the face of the Black Power movement against all whites, and especially against Jews. The political debate shifted to the right. Although the Jews still voted for the Democrats, they had adopted much of the conservative outlook. The Soviet Union was seen not so much as a potential partner for détente but as the sponsor of the Arab nations threatening Israel, and as a cruel dictatorship that was hostile to its millions of Jews. Some leading Jewish intellectuals joined the Neoconservative movement, and others supported parts of Ronald Reagan's foreign policy.[12] Early support for the United Nations collapsed as the UN became the pounding board for anti-Semitic Arab states.

On the domestic front one dimension of liberalism collapsed in Brooklyn, in a 1968 battle over community control of the schools in Ocean-Hill Brownsville. Black nationalists took control there and fired nineteen Jewish teachers. The predominantly Jewish teachers' union, closed down the New York City schools in three strikes, precipitating one of city's worst contemporary crises. Most Jews voted against Mayor John V. Lindsay, a liberal Republican who ran for re-election in New York in 1969 and advocated community control of the schools. At the same time the national Civil Rights Movement was disintegrating, with black radicals expelling Jewish leaders even as black gangs had launched looting attacks on thousands of ghetto stores owned by Jewish businessmen. Militant blacks took funding from Arab nations and turned against Israel. The black-Jewish alliance had collapsed.[13]


Jewish neoconservative intellectuals have spearheaded the drive for an aggressive foreign policy abroad and a strong national defense; likewise they advocated for welfare reform. The original generation of leaders included Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, Seymour Martin Lipset, and Gertrude Himmelfarb. Younger leaders include William Kristol, John Podhoretz, Eliot Abrams, David Brooks, Mona Charen, Charles Krauthammer, David Gelernter, David Klinghoffer, Lisa Schiffren, Don Feder, Jeff Jacoby, and Kay S. Hymowitz.


American exceptionalism

Historians believe American Jewish history has been characterized by an unparalleled degree of freedom, acceptance, and prosperity that has enabled Jews to synthesize their Jewish identities with the demands of national citizenship far more effortlessly than other diasporic Jews. American Jewish exceptionalism has also been rendered as a way of differentiating Jews from other ethnic groups in the United States by virtue of Jewish educational and economic attainment and, often, by virtue of Jewish values, including a devotion to educational and social/political liberalism.


Zionism was a program of support for a national homeland for the world's Jews in Israel. Louis Brandeis, justice of the Supreme Court, was a major leader. At first it was controversial and appealed more to the Orthodox than to the reformed communities. As memories of the World War II Nazi Holocaust became central in the 1960s, opposition to Zionism faded except on the far left.[14] Increasingly after 1970 American Jews cooperated politically with Fundamentalist Protestants in support of Israel.[15]

In the 1900-1950 period, fierce debate erupted in the Jewish communities across the country regarding Zionism. The anti-Zionist rabbinical organization, the American Council for Judaism (ACJ), was established in late 1942 by twenty-six rabbis who broke away from the pro-Zionist Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) as the uniting body for Reform rabbis. Defining Judaism as an apolitical religion that could only survive by adopting universal tenets identifying a Jew's native country as his or her official homeland, it denounced Zionism as counterproductive to the assimilation of Jews into American society and a dangerous platform that raised political Judaism to a level beyond religious interests by demanding dual loyalty.

The outspoken anti-Zionist leaders of ACJ worked with American politicians and State Department officials during World War II to undermine the work and hinder the progress of pro-Zionist organizations attempting to save European Jewish refugees and provide a safe haven for Jews in a Palestine homeland defended by a Jewish army. The ACJ opposed political Zionism and Zionist leaders Chaim Weizmann and Stephen Wise, but the organization eventually lost its effective voice as the extermination of European Jewry became publicized.[16]

In San Francisco, Jews were part of the political mainstream in an environment relatively free of antisemitic discrimination and receptive to Jewish officeholders, including Jewish Republicans won election to the United States Congress. The anti-Zionist ACJ won wide support from San Francisco's assimilated Jews. By contrast the large number of Eastern Europeans in Portland's Jewish community strongly supported the Jewish homeland and significantly increased Zionist support in the West. In Portland, most Jews rejected the ACJ's arguments as Oregon Jewish leaders such as Rabbi Stephen Wise, Zionist David Solis Cohen, and numerous members of the Portland Zionist Society (PZS) convinced the Jewish community to financially support Palestine as a homeland for displaced European Jews suffering from the devastating effects of the Holocaust. [17]

After the Six-Day War of June 1967, in which Israel fought off its neighbors American Jews and Jewish institutions underwent an abrupt, radical, and possibly permanent change. Since its founding in 1906, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) embraced a traditional anti-Zionist position - influenced by classical reform Judaism - that Jewishness was essentially a religious rather than a national or ethnic quality. Even though the AJC had abandoned its anti nationalist stand after the establishment of Israel in 1948, up to 1967 it continued to show little interest in the new Jewish state. The Six-Day War, however, jerked the AJC into a pro-Israel stand more in line with most other Jewish institutions that supported Israeli causes, although this new position came at the price of a distinctive AJC point of view.[18]


The Holocaust was largely ignored by America media as it was happening. Why that was is illuminated by the anti-Zionist position taken by Arthur Hays Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times, during World War II. Committed to classical Reform Judaism, which defined Judaism as a religious faith and not as a people, Sulzberger insisted that as an American he saw European Jews as part of a refugee problem, not separate from it. As publisher of the nation;'s most influential newspaper New York Times, he permitted only a handful of editorials during the war on the extermination of the Jews. He supported the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism. Even after it became known that the Nazis had singled out the Jews for destruction, Sulzberger held that all refugees had suffered. He opposed the creation of Israel. In effect, he muted the enormous potential influence of the Times by keeping issues of concern regarding Jews off the editorial page and burying stories about Nazi atrocities against Jews in short items deep inside the paper. In time he grew increasingly out of step with the American Jewish community by his persistent refusal to recognize Jews as a people and despite obvious flaws in his view of American democracy.[19]

While the New York Times was one of the few prestige newspapers owned by Jews, they had a major presence in Hollywood and in network radio. Hollywood films and radio with few exceptions avoided questioning Nazi persecution of Europe's Jews prior to Pearl Harbor. Jewish studio executives did not want to be accused of advocating Jewish propaganda by making films with overtly antifascist themes. Indeed, they were pressured by such organizations as the Anti-Defamation League and by national Jewish leaders to avoid such themes lest American Jews suffer an anti-Semitic backlash.[20]

Local case studies

Examples of American Jewish communities across the USA.

New York

New York City's Jewish population in 2001 was near two million. New York City is the largest single Jewish community in the world (considering, single as "within municipal limits"). The first Jewish presence in New York was formed by Jews of Dutch ancestry relocated from Brazil. Around 1900, the Lower East Side was home to a flourishing Jewish community of Germans, Russians and Greeks. The Lower East Side Tenement Museum, a landmark built in 1863, tells some stories of immigrants.

The Jewish Week, one of the most respected Jewish newspaper in America, is published in New York. It covers news and features about Jewish world for Manhattan, Long Island, Queens, Westchester/The Bronx and Brooklyn/Staten Island. Other important newspapers are The Jewish Post and The Jewish Daily Forward. The Jewish Museum is located in the 5th Ave. There is also a Jewish Radio.

The Center for Jewish History in New York embodies a partnership of five major institutions of Jewish scholarship, history, and art: the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Sephardi Federation, the Leo Baeck Institute, the Yeshiva University Museum, and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research; with combined holdings of approximately 100 million archival documents, a half million books, and thousands of photographs, artifacts, paintings, and textiles the Center has an important mission: To foster the creation and dissemination of Jewish knowledge and to make the historical and cultural record of the Jewish people readily accessible.


After 1945 many northeastern Jews moved to Florida, especially to Miami, Miami Beach, and nearby cities. They found familiar foods and better weather, and founded more open, less tradition-bound communities, where greater materialism and more leisure-oriented, less disciplined Judaism developed. Many relaxed their religiosity and attended services only during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In South Florida synagogue affiliation, Jewish community center membership, and per capita contributions to the United Jewish Appeal and the Jewish Federation are among the lowest of any Jewish community in the United States.[21]

Clarksburg, West Virginia

In 1900, five of seven clothing merchants in Clarksburg, West Virginia, were Jewish, and into the 1930s the Jews here were primarily merchants. Because of the need to expand their synagogue, the Orthodox Jewish congregation merged with a smaller Reform group to form a compromise Conservative congregation in 1939, and Jewish community life in Clarksburg centered around this synagogue. The community, which reached a population peak of about three hundred in the mid-1950s, is still represented by about thirty families. [22]

Wichita, Kansas

The Jews of Wichita, Kansas, fashioned an ethnoreligious world that was distinct, vibrant, and tailored to their circumstances. They had migrated west with capital, credit, and know-how, and their family-based businesses were extensions of family businesses in the east. They distinguished themselves in educational, leadership, and civic positions. Predominantly German Jews through the 1880s, their remoteness and small numbers encouraged the practice of Reform Judaism, which in turn increased their interaction with non-Jews and hastened the erosion of their heritage. The arrival of conservative Jews from Eastern Europe after the 1880s brought tension into the Wichita Jewish community, but also stirred an ethnoreligious revival. The German Jews were well-respected in the Wichita community, which facilitated the integration of the Eastern European newcomers. The Jewish community was characterized by a "dynamic tension" between tradition and modernization.[23]

Nashville Tennessee

Reform Jews, predominantly German, became Nashville's largest and most influential Jewish community in the first half of the 20th century; they enjoyed good relations with the Orthodox and Conservative congregations. Some German Jewish refugees resettled in Nashville from 1935 to 1939, helped by prominent Nashville families. Both the Orthodox and Conservative congregations had relocated their synagogues to the suburbs by 1949, and the entire Jewish community had shifted southwest by about five miles. Although subtle social discrimination existed, Nashville's Jews enjoyed the respect of the larger community. Public acceptance, however, required complicity in racial segregation. The Observer, Nashville's weekly Jewish newspaper, tried to find a middle ground between assimilation and particularism, but after years of calling for group solidarity, accepted that the Jewish community was pluralistic.[24]

Princeton University

The development of Jewish (particularly Orthodox) student life at Princeton University improved rapidly since the end of World War II, when Jewish students were few and isolated. In 1958 Jewish students were more numerous; they protested against the Bicker system of eating club member selection. In 1961 Yavneh House was established as Princeton's first kosher kitchen. In 1971 Stevenson Hall opened as a university-managed kosher eating facility in the midst of the older private eating clubs. Jewish student initiative and Princeton administration openness deserve credit for this progress.[25]

Oakland, California

The Jewish community in Oakland, California, is representative of many cities. Jews played a prominent role, and were among the pioneers of Oakland in the 1850s. In the early years, the Oakland Hebrew Benevolent Society, founded in 1862, was the religious, social, and charitable center of the community. Later, the first synagogue, founded in 1875, took over the religious and burial functions. Jews from Poland predominated in the community, and most of them worked in some aspect of the clothing industry. David Solis-Cohen, the noted author, was a leader in the Oakland Jewish community in the 1870s.

In 1879 Oakland's growing Jewish community organized a second congregation, a strictly Orthodox group, Poel Zedek.Women's religious organizations flourished, their charitable services extending to needy gentiles as well as Jews. Oakland Jewry was part of the greater San Francisco community, yet maintained its own character. In 1881 the First Hebrew Congregation of Oakland, elected Myer Solomon Levy as its rabbi. The London-born Levy practiced traditional Judaism.

Oakland's Jews were pushed hard to excel in school, both secular and religious. Fannie Bernstein was the first Jew to graduate from the University of California at Berkeley, in 1883. First Hebrew Congregation sponsored a Sabbath school which had seventy-five children in 1887.

Oakland Jewry was active in public affairs and charitable projects in the 1880s. Rabbi Myer S. Levy was chaplain to the state legislature in 1885. The Daughters of Israel Relief Society continued its good works both inside and outside the Jewish community. Beth Jacob, the traditional congregation of Old World Polish Jews, continued its separate religious practices while it maintained friendly relations with the members of the first Hebrew Congregation.

Able social and political leadership came from David Samuel Hirshberg. Until 1886 he was an officer in the Grand Lodge of B'nai B'rith. He served as Under Sheriff of Alameda County in 1883 and was active in Democratic party affairs. In 1885 he was appointed Chief Clerk of the US Mint in San Francisco. As a politician, he had detractors who accused him of using his position in B'nai B'rith to foster his political career. [26]

When refugees from the fire-stricken, poorer Jewish quarter of San Francisco came to Oakland, the synagogue provided immediate aid. Food and clothing were given to the needy and 350 people were given a place to sleep. For about a week the synagogue fed up to 500 people three times a day. A large part of the expenses were paid by the Jewish Ladies' organization of the synagogue.

Palm Springs, California

About 32,000 Jews are believed to reside in the Palm Springs area, according to the United Jewish Congress of the Desert. The world-famous desert resort community has been widely known for its local history of American Jews starting with Hollywood celebrities and businessmen like Walter Annenberg visited Palm Springs in the 1930's and 1940's.

Annenberg, one of the first known billionaires opened the Tamarisk Country Club in 1946, in part due to his personal experiences with anti-Semitism and discrimination, like he was refused membership in the Los Angeles Lakeside country club because of his "Jewishness". But his connections with Hollywood and corporations alike made his country club a success, and made it a policy to allow Jews and all people, regardless of race and religion, to have access to his facility.

Many elderly American Jews from the East coast and the Los Angeles metropolitan area, come to retire in the Coachella Valley, in golf course and mobile home communities, and later in the 20th century to become a large component of demography in the desert resort. A few local Jews are involved in local politics and even are partners with congressmen, presidents and world leaders.

There are twelve known Jewish places of worship, including a Jewish community center in Palm Desert (some demographic experts stated 25% of the population is practicing in Judaism and of Jewish descent) based on self-education in reliigous traditions and recreation opportunities, open especially for youth of all races and creeds.

Palm Springs has the annual "Winter Festival of Lights" parade, which began as a separate parade to celebrate Hanukkah in the 1960's. Over time, that and the Christmas-themed parade merged into the one celebrating the season's lights of menorahs, Christmas trees and the calendar new year.


  1. Sarna (2004) 356-60
  2. Evyatar Friesel, "Jacob H. Schiff and the Leadership of the American Jewish Community. Jewish Social Studies 2002 8(2-3): 61-72. 0021-6704
  3. Seth Korelitz, "'A Magnificent Piece of Work': the Americanization Work of the National Council of Jewish Women." American Jewish History 1995 83(2): 177-203.
  4. Seth Korelitz, "The Menorah Idea: From Religion to Culture, From Race to Ethnicity," American Jewish History 1997 85(1): 75-100. 0164-0178
  5. Steve Siporin, "Immigrant and Ethnic Family Folklore," Western States Jewish History 1990 22(3): 230-242. 0749-5471
  6. Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life (1999); Hilene Flanzbaum, ed. The Americanization of the Holocaust (1999); Monty Noam Penkower, "Shaping Holocaust Memory," American Jewish History 2000 88(1): 127-132. 0164-0178
  7. Diner, The Jews of the United States 135-40, 173-82
  8. The Foundation spent all its money and closed down in 1948. Lawrence P. Bachmann, "Julius Rosenwald," American Jewish Historical Quarterly 1976 66(1): 89-105; Peter M. Ascoli, Julius Rosenwald (2006),.
  9. Goldwater's father was brought up Jewish but was disowned when he converted in order to marry a Protestant. Barry was always an active Episcopalian and had no ties with the Jewish community. Indeed he had little to do with his father; he was close to his mother, a descendant of Roger Williams, the Puritan leader who founded Rhode Island. Nevertheless strangers assumed Goldwater was Jewish because of his name.
  10. Marc Dollinger, "American Jewish Liberalism Revisited: Two Perspectives Exceptionalism and Jewish Liberalism." American Jewish History v 30#2 2002. pp 161+. online at Questia
  11. See Murray Friedman, What Went Wrong? The Creation and Collapse of the Black-Jewish Alliance. (1995)
  12. Sarna (2004) pp 318ff
  13. Jerald E. Podair, The Strike That Changed New York: Blacks, Whites, and the Ocean-Hill Brownsville Crisis (2002); Murray Friedman, What Went Wrong?: The Creation and Collapse of the Black-Jewish Alliance (1995)
  14. Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life (1999)
  15. See the popular account, Zev Chafets, A Match Made in Heaven: American Jews, Christian Zionists, and One Man's Exploration of the Weird and Wonderful Judeo-Evangelical Alliance (2008) excerpt and text search
  16. Monty Noam Penkower, "The Genesis of the American Council For Judaism: A Quest for Identity in World War II." American Jewish History 1998 86(2): 167-194. 0164-0178
  17. Ellen Eisenberg, "Beyond San Francisco: The Failure of Anti-Zionism in Portland, Oregon." American Jewish History 1998 86(3): 309-321. 0164-0178
  18. Lawrence Grossman, "Transformation Through Crisis: The American Jewish Committee and the Six-Day War." American Jewish History 1998 86(1): 27-54. 0164-0178
  19. Laurel Leff, "A Tragic 'Fight In The Family': The New York Times, Reform Judaism and the Holocaust." American Jewish History 2000 88(1): 3-51. 0164-0178
  20. Felicia Herman, "Hollywood, Nazism, and the Jews, 1933-41." American Jewish History 2001 89(1): 61-89; Joyce Fine, "American Radio Coverage of the Holocaust," Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual 1988 5: 145-165. 0741-8450.
  21. Deborah Dash Moore, To the Golden Cities: Pursuing the American Jewish Dream in Miami and L.A. (1994); Stephen J. Whitfield, "Blood and Sand: the Jewish Community of South Florida." American Jewish History 1994 82(1-4): 73-96. 0164-0178
  22. Deborah R. Weiner, "The Jews of Clarksburg: Community Adaptation and Survival, 1900-60." West Virginia History 1995 54: 59-77. 0043-325x
  23. Hal Rothman, "’Same Horse, New Wagon’: Tradition and Assimilation among the Jews of Wichita, 1865-1930." Great Plains Quarterly 1995 15(2): 83-104. 0275-7664
  24. Rob Spinney, "The Jewish Community in Nashville, 1939-1949." Tennessee Historical Quarterly 1993 52(4): 225-241. 0040-3261
  25. Marianne Sanua, "Stages in the Development of Jewish Life at Princeton University." American Jewish History 1987 76(4): 391-415. 0164-0178
  26. William M. Kramer, "The Emergence of Oakland Jewry." Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 1978 10 (2): 99-125, (3): 238-259, (4): 353-373; 11(1): 69-86; 1979 11(2): 173-186, (3): 265-278. Journal Issn: 0043-4221

Further reading


  • Norwood, Stephen H., and Eunice G. Pollack, eds. Encyclopedia of American Jewish history (2 vol 2007), 775pp; comprehenisive coverage by experts; excerpt and text search vol 1
  • The Jewish People in America 5 vol 1992
    • Faber, Eli. A Time for Planting: The First Migration, 1654-1820 (Volume 1) (1992) excerpt and text search
    • Diner, Hasia A. A Time for Gathering: The Second Migration, 1820-1880 (Volume 2) (1992) excerpt and text search
    • Sorin, Gerald. A Time for Building: The Third Migration, 1880-1920 (1992) excerpt and text search
    • Feingold, Henry L. A Time for Searching: Entering the Mainstream, 1920-1945 (Volume 4) (1992) excerpt and text search
    • Shapiro, Edward S. A Time for Healing: American Jewry since World War II, (Volume 5) (1992) excerpt and text search, by a conservative scholar
  • Diner, Hasia. Jews in America (1999) online edition
  • Diner, Hasia. The Jews of the United States, 1654-2000 (2006) excerpt and text search, standard scholarly history online edition
  • Diner, Hasia. A New Promised Land: A History of Jews in America (2003) excerpt and text search; online edition
  • Glazer, Nathan. American Judaism (1957, revised 1972), classic in sociology
  • Heilman, Samuel C. Portrait of American Jews: The Last Half of the 20th Century (1995) online edition
  • Sarna, Jonathan D. American Judaism: A History (2004), standard scholarly history

Specialty topics

  • Abramovitch, Ilana and Galvin, Sean, eds. Jews of Brooklyn. (2002). 400 pp.
  • Diner, Hasia R. and Benderly, Beryl Lieff. Her Works Praise Her: A History of Jewish Women in America from Colonial Times to the Present. (2002). 462 pp. online edition
  • Dollinger, Marc. Quest for Inclusion: Jews and Liberalism in Modern America. (2000). 296 pp. online edition
  • Friedman, Murray. "The Changing Jewish Political Profile," American Jewish History, Vol. 91, 2003 pp 423+. online at Questia
  • Howe, Irving. World of Our Fathers: The Journey of the East European Jews to America and the Life They Found and Made (1976) excerpt and text search, classic account; exaggerates importance of Yiddish culture and socialism; neglects role of religion
  • Jick, Leon. The Americanization of the Synagogue, 1820-1870 (1976)
  • Joseph, Samuel; Jewish Immigration to the United States from 1881 to 1910 (1914) full text online* Kaplan, Dana Evan. American Reform Judaism: An Introduction (2003) online edition
  • Linzer, Norman, et al. A Portrait of the American Jewish Community (1998) online edition
  • Medoff, Rafael. "Recent Trends in the Historiography of American Zionism," American Jewish History 86 (March 1998), 117-134.
  • Podhoretz, Norman. "Why Are Jews Liberals?" Wall Street Journal Sept. 9, 2009
  • Rosenbaum, Fred. Cosmopolitans: A Social and Cultural History of the Jews of the San Francisco Bay Area (2009), 480pp
  • Silverstein, Alan. Alternatives to Assimilation: The Response of Reform Judaism to American Culture, 1840-1930. (1994). 275 pp.
  • Staub, Michael E. Torn at the Roots: The Crisis of Jewish Liberalism in Postwar America. (2002). 392 pp. online edition
  • Wertheimer, Jack. A People Divided: Judaism in Contemporary America (1997) 267 pp. focus on religion
  • Whitfield, Stephen J. In Search of American Jewish Culture. (1999). 307 pp.
  • Wirth-Nesher, Hana, and Michael P. Kramer. The Cambridge Companion to Jewish American Literature (2003) online edition

Primary sources

  • American Jewish Committee. American Jewish Yearbook: The Annual Record of Jewish Civilization (annual, 1899-2009+),complete text online 1899-2007; long sophisticated essays on status of Jews in U.S. and worldwide; the standard primary source used by historians
  • "The Jews: Next Year in Which Jerusalem" Time April 10, 1972, online
  • Farber, Roberta Rosenberg, and Chaim I. Waxman, eds. Jews in America: A Contemporary Reader (1999) excerpt and text search
  • Gurock, Jeffrey S., ed. American Jewish History series
    • The Colonial and Early National Periods, 1654-1840. , vol. 1 (1998). 486 pp.
    • Central European Jews in America, 1840-1880: Migration and Advancement. vol. 2. (1998). 392 pp.
    • East European Jews in America, 1880-1920: Immigration and Adaptation. vol. 3. (1998). 1295 pp.
    • American Jewish Life, 1920-1990. vol. 4. (1998). 370 pp.
    • Transplantations, Transformations, and Reconciliations. vol. 5. (1998). 1375 pp.
    • Anti-Semitism in America. vol. 6. (1998). 909 pp.
    • America, American Jews, and the Holocaust. vol. 7 (1998). 486 pp.
    • American Zionism: Mission and Politics. vol. 8. (1998). 489 pp.
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