Editor's introduction.

Author:Ashton, Dianne
 
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The five articles in this issue cover topics that have long interested scholars and non-specialists alike: family relationships, the dimensions of pluralism in the U.S., Jews' engagement with modern culture, and the relationships among Jewish subcultures. Michael Hoberman's study of the letters written by Quebec Jewish business magnate Aaron Hart (1724-1800) to his children scattered across North America reveal this fathers' worries and frustrations. Hart strived to find words that would achieve multiple goals--words that would guide his children in managing their business interests, leading honorable lives and remaining observant Jews, even as they balanced British and French standards of respectability. Hoberman's analysis reveals the immense hope that Hart invested in his letters and, as was the case with other colonial mercantile Jewish families, the frustration he felt when he recognized the limits of his power to compel his children to behave precisely as he wished. Yet, as Hoberman explains, these letters "differ markedly" from letters written by several other early Jewish fathers to their sons and he shows us the "wealth of insight" they can reveal.

The next four articles address some of the challenges animating American Jewish life in the twentieth century. During that period, America slowly began adopting pluralism as an ideal. Jessica Cooperman explains that during World War 1, the National Jewish Welfare Board played a key role in "transforming pluralism from a philosophic idea into a state-mandated reality." As the United States government institutionalized the care of its military personnel, Catholics and Jews worked to add their own organizations to the list of approved agencies that had long been dominated by the YMCA, thus legitimating their own work.

Andrea Pappas turns our attention to the "intersection of modernity and Jewishness" as she explores the short-lived Guild Art Gallery, a New York City venue for the display and sale of works by Jewish artists. Opening in the midst of the Great Depression, the gallery mounted critically significant shows by Jewish artists and gained the support of Jewish patrons for the international roster of artists it exhibited. Pappas explores the ways in which the...

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