×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, 1945-1962
     

We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, 1945-1962

by Hasia Diner
 

See All Formats & Editions

Winner of the 2009 National Jewish Book Award in American Jewish Studies

Recipient of the 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship in Humanities-Intellectual&Cultural History

It has become an accepted truth: after World War II, American Jews chose to be silent about the mass murder of millions of their European brothers and sisters at the hands of

Overview

Winner of the 2009 National Jewish Book Award in American Jewish Studies

Recipient of the 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship in Humanities-Intellectual&Cultural History

It has become an accepted truth: after World War II, American Jews chose to be silent about the mass murder of millions of their European brothers and sisters at the hands of the Nazis.

In this compelling work, Hasia R. Diner shows the assumption of silence to be categorically false. Uncovering a rich and incredibly varied trove of remembrances—in song, literature, liturgy, public display, political activism, and hundreds of other forms—We Remember with Reverence and Love shows that publicly memorializing those who died in the Holocaust arose from a deep and powerful element of Jewish life in postwar America. Not only does she marshal enough evidence to dismantle the idea of American Jewish “forgetfulness,” she brings to life the moving and manifold ways that this widely diverse group paid tribute to the tragedy.

Diner also offers a compelling new perspective on the 1960s and its potent legacy, by revealing how our typical understanding of the postwar years emerged from the cauldron of cultural divisions and campus battles a generation later. The student activists and “new Jews” of the 1960s who, in rebelling against the American Jewish world they had grown up in “a world of remarkable affluence and broadening cultural possibilities” created a flawed portrait of what their parents had, or rather, had not, done in the postwar years. This distorted legacy has been transformed by two generations of scholars, writers, rabbis, and Jewish community leaders into a taken-for-granted truth.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

An NYU professor of American Jewish history, Diner (The Jews of the United States, 1654-2000) sets out to refute what she contends is an accepted truth: that until the 1960s, American Jewry suffered from a "self-imposed collective amnesia" about the Holocaust. Diner marshals considerable evidence that American Jews were aware of the Holocaust and their culture was influenced by it, from their newspapers to youth movements, to whom speakers repeatedly invoked the Holocaust. They raised $45 million in 1945 alone to succor survivors in Europe. A 1952 commemorative Passover text from the American Jewish Congress was widely distributed and reprinted yearly in Jewish newspapers. Even Adolph Lerner's failed campaign to create a memorial in New York City demonstrates postwar American Jewish engagement with the Holocaust, Diner says. The 1961 publication of Yevtushenko's "Babi Yar" exposed both German barbarities and Soviet anti-Semitism. Diner's worthy, innovative, diligently researched work should spark controversy and meaningful dialogue among Holocaust scholars and in the Jewish community, but her vigorous defense of American Jews would pack more punch if she had devoted more space to the arguments she disputes. Photos. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Diner (director, Goldstein-Goren Ctr. for American Jewish History, NYU; The Jews of the United States, 1645-2000) refutes the conventional wisdom that the American Jewish community ignored, or actively resisted, discussing the Holocaust until the 1960s. She makes a convincing case that in the post-1945 era American Jews, through their communal and religious institutions, assiduously grappled with the question of how to understand and commemorate the Holocaust, speaking of the destruction of European Jewry in Yom Kippur liturgy, history books, and public ceremonies ,and mobilizing its memory to promote causes such as civil rights and support for Israel. Despite this evidence, why do scholars, lay leaders, and the public today often reject the notion that American Jews discussed the slaughter of European Jewry? Diner postulates that in the 1960s young intellectuals who had little but contempt for their elders argued that they represented "new" ideas in Jewish life. These radicals, on the Right and Left of the political spectrum, went on to become Jewish professionals, including academics in Jewish studies, and promoted the concept that the older generation had ignored the Shoah. An important contribution to American Jewish historiography, this book is recommended for all libraries.
—Frederic Krome

Kirkus Reviews
Diner (American Jewish History/New York Univ.; The Jews of the United States, 1654 to 2000, 2004, etc.) hurls a passionate, well-delineated attack on the conventional view that postwar Jews and survivors wanted to forget the Holocaust rather than memorialize the tragedy. Responding to what she considers the "slipshod scholarship" of works such as Peter Novick's The Holocaust in American Life (1999) and Norman Finkelstein's The Holocaust Industry (2000), the author summons considerable evidence to support her thesis. Scouring the archives of synagogues, schools, Jewish organizations, newspapers, periodicals, radio and TV programs and government agencies, she uncovers a rich and varied history of how Jews have incorporated and made sense of the Holocaust. She marshals her research into two groups. The first is remembrance of the Holocaust internally generated by Jewish sources, including the erection of memorials, additions to the Jewish liturgy and calendar, textbooks, articles, plays and pageants enacting the Warsaw uprising. The second is the commemorative culture driven by global events, such as the creation of Israel and the settlement of Displaced Persons, the Cold War, the publications of The Wall by John Hersey and The Diary of Anne Frank, the clamor for German responsibility and restitution and the trial and execution of Adolph Eichmann. Diner is particularly compelling in her exploration of how the postwar Jewish liberal agenda-transformed by the experience of the Holocaust, immigration discrimination and anti-Semitism in America-boldly embraced the civil-rights crusade. A work of towering research and conviction that will surely enliven academic debates for years to come.
From the Publisher
“This research should convince even the most recalcitrant that American Jewry did care far beyond the mundane purposes to which some misused the Holocaust. . . . No course on the postwar period in American Jewish history can afford to ignore it.”
-The Journal of American History

“For several years the debate over postwar responses to the Jewish catastrophe has simply recycled the same data, with partisans declaring that the cup is neither half empty or half full depending on their point of view. Now, thanks to the mountain of evidence she has excavated, Hasia Diner has landed a knockout punch on those who assert that after 1945 American Jews were silent about the fate that befell the Jewish communities in Nazi-occupied Europe, preferring to forget about it while busily integrating into American society and enjoying the postwar boom.”
-David Cesarani,Royal Halloway, University of London

“Dismantles the idea of American Jewish ‘Forgetfulness’ about the Shoah in the post-war years.”-Detroit Jewish News

“Diner persuasively and methodically demonstrates that American Jews established a strong interest in the genocide of European Jewry as early as the waning months of the war.”
-American Jewish Archives Journal

“In the last hundred pages of her book, Diner turns to other factors that led to more widespread memorialization of Holocaust victims and discusses the evolution of Holocaust commemoration in the United States. She commands enormous knowledge and her observations are astute.”-Holocaust and Genocide Studies

“Diner sets out to drive a stake, once and for all, through the heart of a historical falsehood that has proved remarkably durable. This is the notion that, as Diner's subtitle has it, American Jews were initially ‘silent’ about the Holocaust—that the greatest catastrophe in Jewish history was somehow swept under the rug of American Jewry’s collective consciousness. . . . Perhaps the ‘myth of silence’ was a necessary stage in American Jewry’s ongoing struggle to make sense of its place in a post-Holocaust world. But even if that myth once served a need, thanks to Hasia Diner’s work, it must now be retired for good.”

-Tablet Magazine

“Diner conclusively disproves American Jewish Holocaust amnesia before 1962 or 1967... In over five hundred pages of massively researched text and notes, including numerous illustrations, we see documented in great detail how American Jews not only remembered and memorialized the six million during those earlier years; they invoked them in almost everything they said and did as a community, particularly in the struggle for civil rights, where they drew from memories of Nazism a special hatred and fear for American racism, segregation, and bigotry.”-H-Net Reviews

“Fundamentally challenges the now widespread view that before the 1960s American Jewry showed little interest in the Holocaust. With a wealth of fascinating documentation, We Remember with Reverence and Love provides a moving account of the early efforts in the U.S. to document, commemorate, and memorialize the tragic fate of the Jews during the Second World War.”

-Antony Polonsky,Brandeis University

“Uncovers a rich and varied trove of remembrances in song, literature, liturgy, public display, and hundreds of other forms.”

-New Jersey Jewish News

“Diner sets out to drive a stake, once and for all, through the heart of a historical falsehood that has proved remarkably durable. This is the notion that, as Diner"s subtitle has it, American Jews were initially ‘silent’ about the Holocaust—that the greatest catastrophe in Jewish history was somehow swept under the rug of American Jewry’s collective consciousness. . . . Perhaps the ‘myth of silence’ was a necessary stage in American Jewry’s ongoing struggle to make sense of its place in a post-Holocaust world. But even if that myth once served a need, thanks to Hasia Diner’s work, it must now be retired for good.”

-The New Republic

“A lively and controversial book, it is sure to spark debate and conversation for years to come.”
-Jewish Book World

“Diner seeks in this passionate volume to shatter the widespread myth that US Jews from 1945 to 1962 “had little interest in thinking about, engaging with, and memorializing the Holocaust.”

-CHOICE

“The evidence—from youth groups programs, to memorial ceremonies, from early (and admittedly failed) efforts to build monuments, to synagogue programs—is quite overwhelming. So resourcefully has Diner tracked down sermons and song lyrics, posters and programs, that this reviewer finds it hard to imagine any future historians continuing to perpetrate the claim that an explicit communal consciousness of the Holocaust did not really surface until the 1960s.”-AJS

“Diner seeks in the passionate volume to shatter the widespread myth that U.S. Jews from 1945 to 1962 ‘had little interest in thinking about, engaging with, and memorializing the Holocaust.’ . . . Highly recommended.”
-Choice

“Diner refutes the conventional wisdom that the American Jewish community ignored, or actively resisted, discussing the Holocaust until the 1960s. She makes a convincing case that in the post-1945 era American Jews, through their communal and religious institutions, assiduously grappled with the question of how to understand and commemorate the Holocaust. . . . An important contribution to American Jewish historiography.”
-Library Journal

“In her new book We Remember With Reverence and Love. . . Diner argues that Jews not only did not want to forget the Holocaust in the postwar years, but actually pushed hard to memorialize it.”

-The Jewish Week

“Diner’s worthy, innovative, diligently researched work should spark controversy and meaningful dialogue among Holocaust scholars and in the Jewish community.”

-Publishers Weekly

“A startling and passionate work of history. No one has written about the early American Jewish response to the Holocaust with more insight, sophistication, and sensitivity.”
-Gary Gerstle,author of American Crucible

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814720424
Publisher:
New York University Press
Publication date:
04/01/2009
Series:
Goldstein-Goren Series in American Jewish History
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
540
File size:
3 MB

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

In the last hundred pages of her book, Diner turns to other factors that led to more widespread memorialization of Holocaust victims and discusses the evolution of Holocaust commemoration in the United States. She commands enormous knowledge and her observations are astute."-Holocaust and Genocide Studies,

"The evidence- from youth groups programs, to memorial ceremonies, from early (and admittedly failed) efforts to build monuments, to synagogue programs- is quite overwhelming. So resourcefully has Diner tracked down sermons and song lyrics, posters and programs, that this reviewer finds it hard to imagine any future historians continuing to perpetrate the claim that an explicit communal consciousness of the Holocaust did not really surface until the 1960s."-AJS,

"Diner's book successfully proves that American Jews did remember the Holocaust with reverence and love prior to the early 1960s. Rich in documentation, her work challenges preconceived notions extent in many areas."-American Historical Review,

"Diner conclusively disproves American Jewish Holocaust amnesia before 1962 or 1967... In over five hundred pages of massively researched text and notes, including numerous illustrations, we see documented in great detail how American Jews not only remembered and memorialized the six million during those earlier years; they invoked them in almost everything they said and did as a community, particularly in the struggle for civil rights, where they drew from memories of Nazism a special hatred and fear for American racism, segregation, and bigotry."-H-Net Reviews,

"We Remember's real interest lies not only in its polemical conclusion, but also in its primary argument and supporting evidence."-Simon Perego,Books & Ideas

Meet the Author

Hasia Diner is Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History, Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. She is the author of the award-winning We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, 1945-1962 (NYU Press, 2009).

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews