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Becoming American Jews: Temple Israel of Boston
     

Becoming American Jews: Temple Israel of Boston

by Meaghan Dwyer-Ryan, Susan L. Porter, Lisa Fagin Davis
 
From its beginning in 1854 as a traditional German shul to its current status as the largest Reform synagogue in New England, Temple Israel has been an important force in Boston and American Jewish life. The congregation’s ongoing efforts to adapt to changes in American society while preserving balance—between tradition and innovation, between

Overview

From its beginning in 1854 as a traditional German shul to its current status as the largest Reform synagogue in New England, Temple Israel has been an important force in Boston and American Jewish life. The congregation’s ongoing efforts to adapt to changes in American society while preserving balance—between tradition and innovation, between acculturation and distinctiveness—exemplify the transformations in religious worship practices, education, and social justice that mark modern American Reform Judaism. This volume, based on hundreds of archival documents, demographic data, and oral histories, and illustrated with more than 200 images, brings to life the stories of the men, women, and children who have built and maintained this vital Jewish community for more than 150 years.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“While successfully stressing the story of one congregation, the authors, historians all, have managed to extrapolate from this single emphasis a useful depiction of developments affecting the entire American Jewish community. The book deserves a wide readership, far beyond the Temple Israel membership.”—Jewish Journal of South Florida

“By updating the institution’s history to the present day, this excellent book emphasizes the go-with-the-flow resilience of a synagogue that became the flagship of the region’s Reform movement.”—New England Quarterly

“As the title indicates, Becoming American Jews covers not only the specifics of what is now New England's largest Reform congregation, but also the larger history of Boston's Jewish community and the American Reform movement. This book is highly appropriate for current and former Temple Israel congregants, and for university and synagogue collections of Reform movement histories.”—Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter

“Becoming American Jews shines because its authors exude an affection and enthusiasm for their subject but seldom allow these feelings to overwhelm their narrative. They admirably balance the desire to celebrate a storied congregation with the goal of finding larger meaning in its history. This book sets the standard for future synagogue histories and should be required reading for all who embark on such an endeavor.”—The American Jewish Archives Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781584657903
Publisher:
Brandeis University Press
Publication date:
09/25/2009
Series:
Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life
Pages:
280
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.80(d)

What People are Saying About This

Hasia R. Diner
“This trio of historians has done more than produce a solid institutional biography, although they tell the story of a single place with aplomb. They offer here instead a microcosm of American Jewish history, narrating the broad sweep of the American Jewish past through the lens of one synagogue in one city. But what emerges instead is a fine fit between the local and national.”
Michael Feldberg
“The authors help round out the picture of Reform Judaism in America. This history of Temple Israel in Boston highlights the significance of strong rabbis in moving congregations in important new directions. Temple Israel has attracted some of the best American rabbis—and some of the strongest lay leaders.”

Meet the Author

MEAGHAN DWYER-RYAN is a Ph.D. candidate in American ethnic and immigration history at Boston College. SUSAN L. PORTER is a historian and scholar at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center, and a research consultant and lecturer in museum studies at the Harvard University Extension School. LISA FAGIN DAVIS is an independent scholar and manuscript consultant in the Boston area.

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