May is Jewish American Heritage Month, a celebration of the rich history of Jewish contributions to American culture and a tribute to the generations of Jewish Americans who made them happen.
In recognition of this month, UC Press presents this reading list examining Jewish American individuals and contributions, history, and culture.
Justice, Justice Thou Shalt Pursue
A Life’s Work Fighting for a More Perfect Union
by Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Amanda L. Tyler
Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s last book is a curation of her own legacy, tracing the long history of her work for gender equality and a “more perfect Union.”
During Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s visit to Berkeley, she told her life story in conversation with Tyler. In this collection, the two bring together that conversation and other materials—many previously unpublished—that share details from Justice Ginsburg’s family life and long career. These include notable briefs and oral arguments, some of Ginsburg’s last speeches, and her favorite opinions that she wrote as a Supreme Court Justice (many in dissent), along with the statements that she read from the bench in those important cases.
Who Will Lead Us?
The Story of Five Hasidic Dynasties in America
by Samuel C. Heilman
Hasidism, a movement many believed had passed its golden age, has had an extraordinary revival since it was nearly decimated in the Holocaust and repressed in the Soviet Union. Hasidic communities, now settled primarily in North America and Israel, have reversed the losses they suffered and are growing exponentially. With powerful attachments to the past, mysticism, community, tradition, and charismatic leadership, Hasidism seems the opposite of contemporary Western culture, yet it has thrived in the democratic countries and culture of the West. How? Who Will Lead Us? finds the answers to this question in the fascinating story of five contemporary Hasidic dynasties and their handling of the delicate issue of leadership and succession.
A Twenty-First-Century Introduction to Jews and Jewish Identities
by Aaron J. Hahn Tapper
What does it mean to be a Jew in the twenty-first century? Exploring the multifaceted and intensely complicated characteristics of this age-old, ever-changing community, Judaisms examines how Jews are a culture, ethnicity, nation, nationality, race, religion, and more. With each chapter revolving around a single theme (Narratives, Sinais, Zions, Messiahs, Laws, Mysticisms, Cultures, Movements, Genocides, Powers, Borders, and Futures) this introductory textbook interrogates and broadens readers’ understandings of Jewish communities.
Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic
by Karen Wilson
Influenced by popular notions that the West is a place of vanishing Jews and disappearing Judaism, most people draw a blank at the words “Los Angeles Jew.” Yet, the region is home to the second largest number of Jews in North America, and boasts the fourth largest Jewish population in the world, behind only Tel Aviv, New York City, and Jerusalem.
Six incisive essays look at the mutual influence of people and place as they examine Jewish engagement with frontier society, yidishe kultur and union activism, ethnic identity and Hollywood movies, Jewish women and local politics, and Jews making music in Los Angeles.
A Social and Cultural History of the Jews of the San Francisco Bay Area
by Fred Rosenbaum
Since the Gold Rush, Bay Area Jews have countered stereotypes, working as farmers and miners, boxers and mountaineers. They were Gold Rush pioneers, Gilded Age tycoons, and Progressive Era reformers. Told through an astonishing range of characters and events, Cosmopolitans illuminates many aspects of Jewish life in the area: the high profile of Jewish women, extraordinary achievements in the business world, the cultural creativity of the second generation, the bitter debate about the proper response to the Holocaust and Zionism, and much more.
The Jews of the United States, 1654 to 2000
by Hasia R. Diner
Since Peter Stuyvesant greeted with enmity the first group of Jews to arrive on the docks of New Amsterdam in 1654, Jews have entwined their fate and fortunes with that of the United States—a project marked by great struggle and great promise. What this interconnected destiny has meant for American Jews and how it has defined their experience among the world’s Jews is fully chronicled in this work, a comprehensive and finely nuanced history of Jews in the United States from 1654 through the end of the past century.