The Vanishing American Jew: In Search of Jewish Identity for the Next Century

The Vanishing American Jew: In Search of Jewish Identity for the Next Century

by Alan M. Dershowitz
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Overview

The Vanishing American Jew: In Search of Jewish Identity for the Next Century by Alan M. Dershowitz

In this urgent book, Alan M. Dershowitz shows why American Jews are in danger of disappearing - and what must be done now to create a renewed sense of Jewish identity for the next century. In previous times, the threats to Jewish survival were external - the virulent consequences of anti-Semitism. Now, however, in late-twentieth-century America, the danger has shifted. Jews today are more secure, more accepted, more assimilated, and more successful than ever before. They've dived into the melting pot - and they've achieved the American Dream. And that, according to Dershowitz, is precisely the problem. More than 50 percent of Jews will marry non-Jews, and their children will most often be raised as non-Jews. Which means, in the view of Dershowitz, that American Jews will vanish as a distinct cultural group sometime in the next century - unless they act now. Speaking to concerned Jews everywhere, Dershowitz calls for a new Jewish identity that focuses on the positive - the 3,500-year-old legacy of Jewish culture, values, and traditions. Dershowitz shows how this new Jewish identity can compete in America's open environment of opportunity and choice - and offers concrete proposals on how to instill it in the younger generation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446930505
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 01/06/2000
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 574 KB

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The Vanishing American Jew: In Search of Jewish Identity for the Next Century 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
bookworm1228 More than 1 year ago
Although this book was written more than 20 years ago, it is still very relevant to the issues Jewish communities are facing today. In general, I think Dershowitz makes a compelling argument for the need for liberal Jews to begin educating themselves about their own heritage and for the investment of significantly greater resources into secular, thoughtful Jewish education. I think Dershowitz slightly missed the boat on two levels however. First, and this was clearly purposeful, the book is definitely off-putting to those with an Ultra-Orthodox bent. Dershowitz's opinion is that movements like Chabad are fundamentally different from other Jewish movements, and it would be difficult for liberal Jews to find common ground with the Ultra-Orthodox. At the very least, this is a difficult message to swallow, and, in my opinion, there are many Jews in both camps who would like to work together to preserve some form of Judaism in the twenty-first century. Second, Dershowitz's message is very cognitive and educational, which, while crucial, misses something of the emotional, community, connected element that is necessary for anyone to want to learn about Judaism in the first place. However, overall, this is a book worth reading for people interested in getting ideas for modern Jewish continuity.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a Hispanic and a Protestant, this book was an eye opener not only in regard to the issue of Jewish assimilation, but also to the Jewish world itself and Judaism. At first the chapter on the Christian Right caught my attention. I began to read that fine chapter. Then I traveled to other parts and - before I knew it - I had read the entire book and enjoyed it a great deal. Perhaps the greatest and most moral theme of this fine work is that of cultural assimilation and the questions which it poses not only to the minority which seeks to assimilate, but also to the often imposing majority. If anything, as a Christian, Professor Dershowtitz's book has changed my view on my faith and how it relates to others. That is, I challenge the notion that it is 'Christian' to take away what is Jewish about Jews and - by whatever means - force them to assimilate. It is hardly Christian, nor is it civil or moral. Self destination is the key here. The Jewish people and their traditions are fine and should - nay must - be preserved. This only strenghthened my previous belief here. The point of reference to the Christian Right is also vital. I most readily agreed with Dershowitz's analysis of the problem. The Christian Right - while not outwardly racist or antisemetic (though it is blatantly anti-gay and prejudiced) - does pose a threat to diversity and Jewishness. This movement abhors religious liberty for minorities in regard to church/state separation, it directly contradicts the centrist view of politics by straying to the far-right and it challenges traditional notions of 'Americanism' by posing the view that there is an 'original American' (mostly protestant and right wing white Christian - yeah right). Once again, those views are not only not Christian, but immoral and lack civility. This traditional right wing resistence greatly explains Jewish regard for civil liberties. This is indeed a fine work. I challenge all persons to read