"This is a book of extraordinary quality and importance. In tracing the encounter of Jews (the chosen people) and America (the chosen nation) . . Eisen has given the American Jewish community a new understanding of itself." —American Jewish Archives
". . . one of the most significant books on American Jewish thought written in recent years." —Choice
What does it mean to be a Jew in America? What opportunities and what threats does the great melting pot represent for a group that has traditionally defined itself as "a people that must dwell alone"? Although for centuries the notion of "The Chosen People" sustained Jewish identity, America, by offering Jewish immigrants an unprecedented degree of participation in the larger society, threatened to erode their Jewish identity and sense of separateness. Arnold M. Eisen charts the attempts of American Jewish thinkers to adapt the notion of chosenness to an American context. Through an examination of sermons, essays, debates, prayer-book revisions, and theological literature, Eisen traces the ways in which American rabbis and theologians—Reconstructionist, Conservative, and Orthodox thinkers—effected a compromise between exclusivity and participation that allowed Jews to adapt to American life while simultaneously enhancing Jewish tradition and identity.
Part One: Introduction I. A Part and Apart
Part Two: The Second Generation (1930-1955) II. Nation, People, Religion-What Are We? III. Reform Judaism and the Mission unto the Nations IV. Mordecai Kaplan and the New Jewish Vocation V. Conservatism, Orthodoxy, and th Affirmation of Election
Part Three: The Third Generation (1955-1980) VI. Ambassadors at Home VII. Children of the Halfway Covenant
Part Four: Conclusion VIII. The Lessons of Choseness in America
Notes Bibliography Index
ARNOLD M. EISEN is Professor of Religious Studies at Stanford University and author of Galut: Modern Jewish Reflection on Homelessness and Homecoming.