Choosing to be Jews: a Sociological Reflection on American Jews Since 1950, pt. 2
Heilman, Samuel C.
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The second half of the twentieth century has been a time when American Jews have experienced a minimum of prejudice and almost all domains of life have been accessible to them, but it has also been a time of assimilation, of swelling rates of inter-marriage, and of large numbers ignoring their Jewishness completely. Jews have no trouble building synagogues, but they have all sorts of trouble filling them. The quality of Jewish education is perhaps higher than ever before, and the output of Jewish scholarship is overwhelming in its scope and quality, but most American Jews receive a minimum of religious education and can neither read nor comprehend the great corpus of Jewish literature in its Hebrew (or Aramaic) original. This is a time in America when there is no shame in being a Jew, and yet fewer American Jews seem to know what being a Jew means. This book is part of a stocktaking that has been occurring among Jews as the century in which their residence in America was firmly established comes to an end. Grounded in empirical detail, it provides a concise yet analytic evaluation of the meaning of the many studies and surveys of the last four and a half decades. All those who want to know what it means and has meant to be an American Jew will find this volume of interest.
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