The Dynamics of American Jewish History

The Dynamics of American Jewish History

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Jacob Rader Marcus (1896-1995), scholar, professor, and rabbi, was called the Dean of American Jewish historians by students and colleagues alike. A seminal force in the evolution of the academic study of American Jewish history, Marcus was the first to apply modern critical methodology to this field. In the course of his long life, he published more than 300 books and articles on the history of American Jews. In 1947 he founded the American Jewish Archives, which he directed for almost fifty years. A beloved teacher and mentor for several generations of Hebrew Union College (HUC) students, Dr. Marcus remains a very significant figure in the history of American Jewry during the twentieth century. Marcus, raised in West Virginia, was the child of East European immigrants. At the age of 15, he moved to Cincinnati to matriculate at HUC, America's oldest rabbinical seminary. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War I, Marcus became a member of the HUC faculty upon his rabbinical ordination in 1920. He subsequently moved to Europe to pursue doctoral studies and, upon returning to Cincinnati, Marcus taught courses in Jewish history. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, Marcus realized that the i American Jewry was fast becoming the most influential Jewish community in the world. In the aftermath of the brutal destruction of European Jewry during World War II, Marcus's keen interest in the history of American Jewry burgeoned. Marcus left the pulpit for a career of scholarship and teaching, he nevertheless maintained a close connection to his students and, through them, to the American rabbinate. A mentor to generations of HUC students and graduates, Marcus was an active participant in the Central Conference of American Rabbis (the organizational arm of the American Reform rabbinate), serving as its president from 1949-1951. In this volume, Gary Philip Zola brings together a unique assortment of Marcus's most important unpublished essays, written for a more popular audience between 1916 and 1989. Read collectively, these essays bring the key themes of Marcus's work into bold relief. In the early qAmerica: The Spiritual Center of Jewryq (1916), as in the much later qThree Hundred Years in Americaq (1955), Marcus calls upon American Jewry to study its heritage, arguing that this knowledge will kindle a renaissance in American Jewish life. In qLost: Judaism in the American Expeditionary Forces, the Urgent Need for Welfare Workq (1919), he insists that the Jewish experience in America consists of a symbiotic relationship between individual Jews and the larger Jewish community. A focus on the individual in relation to the whole guided many of Marcus's essays, as did his emphasis on Jews studying their own past, strong echoes of both can be found in qNew Literary Responsibilities (1941-1942) as well as works for specific occasions, such as qThe Program of the American Jewish Archivesq (1947) and Genesis: College Beginnings (1989). Another leitmotif linking these diverse topics is Marcus's view that American Judaism will thrive and distinguish itself as long as Jewish education and Jewish cultural life become a high priority on the Jewish communal agenda. This collection enhances our understanding of how the ideas of one of American Jewry's pioneering historians evolved, while preserving historical documents that trace the development of American Jewish life over the course of the twentieth century.Jacob Rader Marcusa#39;s Essays on American Jewry Jacob Rader Marcus, Gary Phillip Zola ... The article appeared in the second volume of Phi Beta Kappaa#39;s recently inaugurated literary journal, The American Scholar. It seems to have been theanbsp;...

Title:The Dynamics of American Jewish History
Author: Jacob Rader Marcus, Gary Phillip Zola
Publisher:UPNE - 2004

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