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The first American Jews

Looking for a good book on American Jews?

Jews have been in America for a long time. Christopher Columbus may have been of Jewish descent. And his translator, Luis de Torres - the first one of the crew to set foot on land in the New World, certainly was. Jews arrived in New Amsterdam - later known as New York - in 1654. Most early American Jews were Sephardim, including former Marranos (Jews practicing Judaism secretly due to the Spanish Inquisition). By 1776, there were some 2,000 Jews in the 13 colonies. The first Ashkenazi congregation was founded in 1795.

Unlike Europe, the Jews of the United States never had to be emancipated - while there has been anti-Semitism in America, it has never been official, and Jews did not have to be elevated from a legally inferior status. Jews from Germany began to come in the mid-1800s, and the large immigration of East European Jews began in 1881.

How many Jews are there in America?

In 1990,Jews in the U.S. numbered about 5.5 million, depending on how you count. The just-released new Jewish population study of 2000 shows this number has already decreased to 5.2 million. While American Jewry has come up with new movements and approaches to Judaism, it has at the same time struggled to maintain Jewish continuity in a society where you don't have to be anything if you don't want to. Currently, we see Jewish cultural flourishing side-by-side with assimilation.

Books on American Jews and Judaism

With these dynamics, it's no surprise to see many fine books on American Jews and American Judaism. We've assembled a number of them for you here.

american jews

A History of the Jews in America

by Howard M. Sachar

american jews

Alternatives to Assimilation: The Response of Reform Judaism to American Culture, 1840-1930
by Alan Silverstein

american jews

Ambiguous Relations: The American Jewish Community and Germany Since 1945
by Shlomo Shafir

american jews

Henry Ford and the Jews

by Neil Baldwin

american jews

America, Its Jews, and the Rise of Nazism

by Gulie Ne'eman Arad

american jews

The Grandees: America's Sephardic Elite

by Stephen Birmingham

american jews

Are We One?: Jewish Identity in the United States and Israel

by Jerold S. Auerbach

american jews

Beyond Auschwitz: Post-Holocaust Jewish Thought in America

by Michael L. Morgan

Beyond Survival and Philanthropy: American Jewry and Israel

by Allon Gal,  Alfred Gottschalk

american jews

The Jews in America

by Max I. Dimont

american jews

Catskill Culture : A Mountain Rat's Memories of the Great Jewish Resort Area

by Phil Brown

american jews

Class, Networks, and Identity

by Rhonda F. Levine

american jews

Divergent Jewish Cultures: Israel and America

by Deborah Dash Moore, S. Ilan Troen

american jews

The Presidents of the United States & the Jews

by David G. Dalin, Alfred J. Kolatch

american jews

Evangelizing the Chosen People: Missions to the Jews in America, 1880-2000 (H. Eugene and Lillian Youngs Lehman Series)

by Yaakov S. Ariel

american jews

Forgotten Victims: The Abandonment of Americans in Hitler's Camps

by Mitchell G. Bard

american jews

From New Zion to Old Zion: American Jewish Immigration and Settlement in Palestine, 1917-1939 (America-Holy Land Monographs)

by Joseph B. Glass

american jews

Going South: Jewish Women in the Civil Rights Movement

by Debra L. Schultz

A Bibliography of Jewish Education in the United States

by Norman Drachler

american jews

Her Works Praise Her: A History of Jewish Women in America from Colonial Times to the Present

by Hasia R. Diner, Beryl Lieff Benderly

Homelands: Southern Jewish Identity in Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina (Judaic Studies Series)

by Leonard Rogoff

american jews

How Jews Became White Folks and What That Says About Race in America

by Karen Brodkin

american jews

Irreconcilable Differences?: The Waning of the American Jewish Love Affair With Israel (Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life)

by Steven T. Rosenthal

american jews

Jewish Baltimore: A Family Album

by Gilbert Sandler

american jews

Jewish Immigrant Associations and American Identity in New York, 1880-1939

by Daniel Soyer

american jews

Jewish Voices of the California Gold Rush: A Documentary History, 1849-1880 (American Jewish Civilization Series)

by Ava Fran Kahn

american jews

Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia

by Paula E. Hyman, Deborah Dash Moore

american jews

Jews in America: A Cartoon History

by David Gantz

american jews

Jews in America: A Contemporary Reader (Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life)

by Roberta Rosenberg Farber, Chaim Isaac Waxman

american jews

Jews, Slaves, and the Slave Trade: Setting the Record Straight (Reappraisals in Jewish Social and Intellectual History Series)

by Eli Faber

american jews

Judah P. Benjamin: The Jewish Confederate

by Eli N. Evans

american jews

Lower East Side Memories

by Hasia R. Diner

american jews

Quarantine!: East European Jewish Immigrants and the New York City Epidemics of 1892

by Howard Markel

american jews

Reel Jewish

by Joel Samberg

american jews

Sephardic-American Voices: Two Hundred Years of a Literary Legacy (Brandies Series in American Jewish History, Culture and Life)

by Diane Matza

american jews

Shared Dreams: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Jewish Community

by Marc Schneier

american jews

State of Israel, Diaspora, and Jewish Continuity: Essays on the 'Ever-Dying People' (Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry Series, 26)

by Simon Rawidowicz, Benjamin C. I. Ravid, Michael A. Meyer

american jews

Struggles in the Promised Land: Towards Towards a History of Black-Jewish Relations in the United States

by Jack Salzman, Cornel West

american jews

The Death of an American Jewish Community: A Tragedy of Good Intentions

by Hillel Levine

american jews

The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State

by Benjamin Ginsberg

american jews

The First Jewish Catalog: A Do-It-Yourself Kit

by Richard Siegel, Michael Strassfield, Sharon Strassfeld

american jews

The Girls: Jewish Women of Brownsville, Brooklyn, 1940-1995 (Suny Series on Modern Jewish Literature and Culture)

by Carole Bell Ford

american jews

A Homeland in the West : Utah Jews Remember

by Eileen Hallett Stone

american jews

The Jewish Confederates (NS)

by Robert N. Rosen

Black-Jewish Relations on Trial: Leo Frank and Jim Conley in the New South

by Jeffrey Paul Melnick

american jews

The Jews of New Jersey: A Pictorial History

by Patricia M. Ard, Michael Aaron Rockland

american jews

The Lower East Side Jews: An Immigrant Generation

by Ronald Sanders

Envisioning Israel: The Changing Ideals and Images of North American Jews (American Jewish Civilization Series)

by Allon Gal

american jews

The Provincials: A Personal History of Jews in the South

by Eli N. Evans

american jews

The Quiet Voices: Southern Rabbis and Black Civil Rights, 1880s to 1990s (Judaic Studies Series)

by Mark K. Bauman, Berkley Kalin

american jews

The Soviet Jewish Americans (Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life)

by Annelise Orleck, Elizabeth Cooke (Photographer)

american jews

The Story of the Jewish Defense League

by Meir Kahane

american jews

Tough Jews: Fathers, Sons, and Gangster Dreams

by Rich Cohen

american jews

Troubled Memory: Anne Levy, the Holocaust, and David Duke's Louisiana

by Lawrence N. Powell

american jews

What Price Prejudice?: Christian Antisemitism in America (Studies in Judaism and Christianity)

by Frank E. Eakin

Can't find it here? Try a search on American Jewry   


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