Rabbis and Lawyers: The Journey From Torah to Constitutionby Jerold S. Auerbach
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Renowned legal historian Jerold S. Auerbach examines the special contributions of rabbis and lawyers to American Jewish acculturation. Based on extensive research in U.S. and Israeli archives, his analysis of how lawyers displaced rabbis as community leaders at the beginning of the twentieth century illuminates a decisive moment in history. Author of the landmark 1976 study of the legal profession, Unequal Justice, Auerbach (Wellesley College) turns to the more specific issue of the development of the lawyer class in the U.S. and its role in changing the ways Jewish Americans assimilated and were perceived by others.
This book challenges the comfortable meme that Jewish leaders did all they could to prevent the Holocaust or promote the basics of pro-Jewish causes at home--with so many worried about being assimilated first and devoted second, if at all. It also explores the upper echelon's devotion to a President Roosevelt who seemed so openly to relegate their plight to a "lesser cause," and did so little to stop the Final Solution. And the reason, Auerbach shows, is that for these leaders--Brandeis, Marshall, Frankfurter, Mack, Proskauer, Frank and others--their religion was ultimately law and their passion was melding Judaism into it. This is not always a comfortable history but it is an important one, an authentic one.
"For nearly a century, by World War II, the fundamental component of American Jewish identity, articulated by rabbis and lawyers alike, was the inherent compatibility of Judaism with Americanism. During World War II, the inconceivable occurred: what was good for the United States was not good for the Jews; what was urgent for the Jews was a matter of insignificance to the American government and to the president. Once the inconceivable happened, American Jews who had accepted the acculturation bargain were paralyzed." And that transition from Torah to Constitution began long before its ultimate effects. This is the story of that turn to the legalistic public face of American Judaism.
Part of the new Legal History & Biography Series from Quid Pro Books. Quality digital format, including active contents, linked endnotes, and even a detailed and active Index linked to the appropriate place in the ebook. Also available in a new paperback edition.
Meet the Author
JEROLD S. AUERBACH is Emeritus Professor of History at Wellesley College, where he has taught courses on modern United States history, freedom of speech, American Jewish history, and the history of Israel. After receiving the B.A. in 1957 from Oberlin College, he attended Columbia Law School, subsequently receiving the M.A. (1959) and the Ph.D. (1965) in history from Columbia. He taught at Queens College and Brandeis University before joining the Wellesley College faculty in 1971, later serving as the chair of the History department.
Dr. Auerbach is a widely published author. His books include Hebron Jews: Memory and Conflict in the Land of Israel (2009), Explorers in Eden: Pueblo Indians and the Promised Land (2006), Are We One? Jewish Identity in the United States and Israel (2001), and Jacob’s Voices: Reflections of a Wandering American Jew (1996).
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