Jews and the American Public Square is a study of how Jews have grappled with the presence of religion, both their own and others, in American public life. It surveys historical Jewish approaches to church-state relations and analyzes Jewish responses to the religion clauses of the First Amendment. The book also explores how the contemporary sociological and political characteristics of American Jews bear on their understanding of the public dimensions of American religion. In addition to a descriptive and analytic approach. the volume is also critical and polemical. Its contributors attack and defend prevailing views, raise critical questions about the political and intellectual positions favored by American Jews, and propose new syntheses. This book captures the current mood of the Jewish community: both committed to the separation of church and state and perplexed about its scope and application. It provides the necessary background for a principled reconsideration of the problem of religion in the public square.
A long-overdue look at the role played by American Jewry in our civic life. The essays in this expertly edited volume are informative, provocative, and skillfully written. Highly recommended.
Arnold M. Eisen
This thoughtful and timely set of essays is sure to provoke—and enrich—debate on the roles of Jews and Judaism in American public life. The discussion is on a high level throughout, the authors well attuned to recent controversies. An unusually worthwhile collection.
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.
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.
Alan Mittleman is Head and Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Muhlenberg College and the author ofThe 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, includingReligion and State in the American Jewish Experience (with David Dalin) andWomen 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.
Chapter 1 Introduction Part 2 Historical Dimensions Chapter 3 An Overview of American Jewish Defense Chapter 4 Church-State Dilemmas of American Jews Part 5 Constitutional Dimensions Chapter 6 Believers and the Founders' Constitution Chapter 7 The Rule of Law and the Establishment Clause Chapter 8 Religion and Liberal Democracy Part 9 Political Dimensions Chapter 10 Jewish Activism in the Washington "Square": An Analysis and Prognosis Chapter 11 Uncertain Steps: American Jews in the New Public Square Chapter 12 The Jewish Debate over State Aid to Religious Schools Part 13 Sociological Dimensions Chapter 14 Jewish Involvement in the American Public Square: The Organizational Disconnect Chapter 15 Public Jews and Private Acts: Family and Personal Choices in the Public Square and in the Private Realm Part 16 Philosophical Dimensions Chapter 17 Jewish Critics of Strict Separationism Chapter 18 Under His Own Vine and Fig Tree: The Contemporary Jewish Approach to Religion in American Public Life and Its Problems Chapter 19 Toward a Jewish Public Philosophy in America