Introduction.

Position::Editorial
 
FREE EXCERPT

American Jewish History devotes this issue to the 350th anniversary of the Jewish people in America. In the three distinct parts into which it is divided, we invite attention not only to the past but to the future as well, looking forward, even now, with optimism and anticipation to the continued vitality of scholarship in American Jewish history between this milestone and the next, the 400th anniversary of Jewish history in the United States.

In Part One, "Reflections Upon American Jewish History," we asked a number of distinguished historians to look back upon the three-thousand-year history of the Jewish people in general and to consider where American Jewish history fits into that vast panorama. Is American Jewish history unique in the annals of world Jewish history? Or, instead, does it have earlier parallels, ones that illuminate and explicate American Jewish history because of similarities that earlier precedents afford? Each of the scholars whom we invited to deliberate upon the issue answered in a different way. Some focused upon earlier eras in general Jewish history, while others concentrated upon the study of American Jewish history, as distinguished from the study of Jews in other periods and localities. All, however, share one characteristic in common: their primary fields of study, the areas in which each has made his or her major scholarly contributions, is not American Jewish history. This was by design, for we wished to see the history of the Jewish people in America set in the far broader context of Jewish history than is usually the case. We hope, as well, that in the future the study of general Jewish history will incorporate American Jewish history more so than has generally been true heretofore.

In Part Two, "Recent American Jewish History, 1954-2004," we invited several other distinguished historians, this time ones who do specialize in the American Jewish historical experience, to explore various aspects of that history during the last fifty years. What have been some of the major trends and developments in American Jewish life between the 300th and the 350th anniversaries of the Jewish people in the United States? Although Part Two by no means...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP