The second half of the twenthieth 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 perhapes 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.
Do the events of the last 45 years, since 1950, leave hope for the prospects of American Jewry or do they force a reevaluation of what American Jewry has become? This noted sociologist looks at the data available on American Jewish life in each of the last four decades; he presents a readable account of what it means and has meant to be an American Jew. The information is presented within the framework of using the information to lok ahead to the future of American Jewry.