Jewish Polity and American Civil Society: Communal Agencies and Religious Movements in the American Public Sphere / Edition 1

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Overview

Jewish Polity and American Civil Society is a study of the civic and political engagements of American Jews as mediated by their communal and denominational institutions. The book explores how the various branches of the organized Jewish community seek to influence public affairs. Over the course of the last century, Jewish agencies and religious movements have tried to shape public debate and public policy on such issues as civil rights, church-state relations, and American foreign policy. The book sets the history of Jewish engagement in these areas into historical context; analyzes the motives, strategies, and tactics of various Jewish groups, and evaluates their successes and failures. The book also explores the underlying idea—the public philosophy—that informs American Jews' understanding of civic and political engagement.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Suggesting that religious groups are the "most vital voluntary associations in American civil society," Mittleman (religion, Muhlenberg College), Sarna (American Jewish history, Brandeis U.), and Licht (political thought, U. of Chicago) present ten essays examining the organizational histories of different Jewish religious and advocacy associations and discussing their engagement with civil politics. The activities and impacts of the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, and the Anti-Defamation League are explored, as are efforts by a number of groups to promote aid and sympathy for the state of Israel. Also discussed are the role of state and local Jewish agencies as providers of Welfare services and the institutional characteristics of the ultra-Orthodox and the Jewish Renewal movements. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The Weekly Standard
Both books [Jewish Polity and American Civil Society and Jews and the American Public Square both edited by Alan Mittelman, Jonathan D. Sarna, and Robert Licht] furnish the reader with a great deal of useful information about Jews in America, while the essays included in the books are characterized by competence and earnestness throughout.
First Things
Both books [Jewish Polity and American Civil Society and Jews and the American Public Square both edited by Alan Mittelman, Jonathan D. Sarna, and Robert Licht] will be of interest to students of American Judaism.
American Jewish History
This is an extraordinary anthology. This volume is a significant achievement. The editors and authors are owed a debt of gratitude by community leaders, scholars, and students.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742521223
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 5.86 (w) x 8.94 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan Mittleman is head and associate professor in the Department of Religion at Muhlenberg College and the author of The Scepter Shall Not Depart from Judah: Perspectives on the Persistence of the Political in Judaism. Jonathan D. Sarna is the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University. He is author, editor, or coeditor of many books, including Religion and State in the American Jewish Experience (with David Dalin) and Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives (with Pamela S. Nadell). Robert Licht is the editor of six books on the U.S. Constitution and is a lecturer in political thought at the University of Chicago.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction - The Jewish Political Tradition and the English-Speaking World 1
1 "Defenders": National Jewish Community Relations Agencies 13
3 Local Community Relations Councils and Their National Body 67
3 History of Israel Advocacy 103
4 The Jewish Social Welfare Lobby in the United States 181
5 The Conservative Movement and the Public Square 235
6 Reform Judaism, Minority Rights, and the Separation of Church and State 261
7 Mainstream Orthodoxy and the American Public Square 283
8 Haredim and the Public Square: The Nature of the Social Contract 311
9 Reconstructionism and the Public Square: A Multicultural Approach to Judaism in America 337
10 Jewish Renewal 363
Afterword 389
Index 391
About the Contributors 419
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