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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:55134
Doc. No:TL25088
Call number:‭3317230‬
Main Entry:Valerie Sandler Thaler
Title & Author:The reshaping of American Jewish identity, 1945 to 1960Valerie Sandler Thaler
College:Yale University
Date:2008
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2008
Page No:214
Abstract:Recent histories of American Jews between 1945 and 1960 have emphasized their celebration of rising socioeconomic status, conservatism in the face of an oppressive political climate, and complacency about their Jewish identity. Only in the 1960s, these arguments suggest, did American Jews dare to embrace Jewish particularism. This dissertation complicates this narrative by applying the methods of social history. Both on their own and in conjunction with elites, ordinary American Jews engaged in conversations about what it meant to be American and Jewish in the postwar era. Rather than a period of stagnation in the evolution of American Jewish identity, this study demonstrates that the immediate postwar era was one in which American Jewish identity was newly created, contested and eventually reshaped. The principal innovation of this thesis is its focus on local, rather than national, institutions. Local case studies unite the perspectives of ordinary and elite Jews in the study of identity construction, while national institutions often render them separate. The Philadelphia Jewish community—the third largest in America in 1945—provides fertile ground for this investigation of synagogues, a day school and the college campus. As Congregations Keneseth Israel (Reform) and Beth Sholom (Conservative) made their transitions from North Philadelphia to the suburb of Elkins Park, they redefined their identities as congregations committed to both American values and Jewish particularism. The founders of Akiba Hebrew Academy, a pioneer in the field of progressive day school education, sought to make their institution comfortably American and Jewish so as to be acceptable to liberal Jews. Finally, the college campus also served as a site for Jewish identity development; this thesis adopts a dual focus on a local institution (the University of Pennsylvania Hillel Foundation) and its national counterpart (B'nai B'rith Hillel Foundations). Taken together, the constituents of these institutions redefined Jewish distinctiveness at the same time that they confidently asserted their legitimacy as American citizens.
Subject:Social sciences; Day schools; Hillel Foundations; Identity; Jewish day schools; Jewish distinctiveness; Jewish identity; American studies; Judaic studies; 0751:Judaic studies; 0323:American studies
Added Entry:P. E. Hyman
Added Entry:Yale University