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A Social and Cultural History of the Jews of the San Francisco Bay Area

Fred Rosenbaum (Author)


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Levi Strauss, A.L. Gump, Yehudi Menuhin, Gertrude Stein, Adolph Sutro, Congresswoman Florence Prag Kahn--Jewish people have been so enmeshed in life in and around San Francisco that their story is a chronicle of the metropolis itself. 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. Focusing in rich detail on the first hundred years after the Gold Rush, the book also takes the story up to the present day, demonstrating how unusually strong affinities for the arts and for the struggle for social justice have characterized this community even as it has changed over time. Cosmopolitans, set in the uncommonly diverse Bay Area, is a truly unique chapter of the Jewish experience in America.
List of Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgments
1. Boomtown: Tumult and Triumph in Gold Rush San Francisco
2. Woven into the Fabric: The Confident Community of the Gilded Age
3. Rooted Cosmopolitans: The Cultural Creativity of the Second Generation
4. Eden on the Pacific: The Challenges to Judaism at the Turn of the Century
5. Healing California: Jewish Reformers and Revolutionaries in the Progressive Era
6. Trials: Firestorms and Corruption, Terrorism and World War
7. With a Yiddish Accent: East European Jewish Neighborhoods
8. Good Times: The Jewish Elite between the Wars
9. Both Sides of the Barricades: Jews and Class Conflict during the Depression
10. Cataclysms: Responses to the Holocaust and Zionism
Epilogue: Legacies of the First Century
Fred Rosenbaum is the Founding Director of Lehrhaus Judaica, the largest school for adult Jewish education in the American West, and the author of Visions of Reform: Congregation Emanu-El and the jews of San Francisco, among other books. He has also taught modern Jewish history at the Graduate Theological Union, the University of San Francisco, and San Francisco State University. Rosenbaum is the award-winning author of seven books on Bay Area Jewish history and the Holocaust including most recently, with Eva Libitzky, Out on a Ledge: Enduring the Lodz Ghetto, Auschwitz, and Beyond.
“Will significantly enhance our knowledge of Jews in the Bay Area, especially their uniqueness among America’s Jewry.”—American Jewish History
“An absorbing and colorfully detailed story of a minority's outsized impact on its society, particularly in the spheres of the arts, business and politics.”—Publishers Weekly
“Excellent and thorough.”—Dr. Morton I. Teicher The Buffalo Jewish Review
“Excellent and thorough narrative.”—Morton Teicher Jewish Journal Of S.florida
“Rosenbaum has written a vibrant historical narrative.”—William Toll Western Historical Qtly
“An informative and entertaining narrative. His work will likely enthrall local history enthusiasts.”—Erik Greenberg American Jewish Archives
“Recounts more than just the broad brushstrokes of local Jewish history. Rosenbaum brings to life the big shots and nobodies, fat cats, socialists, entrepreneurs and lunatics who have made up the dramatis personae of Bay Area Jewry over the last 160 years.”—J. Jewish News Weekly
“A wonderful, extremely well researched resource. . . . Reads like an adventure.”—Jewish Book World
“The excellent and through narrative is supplemented by numerous photos that add to the reader’s appreciation for the singular quality of the San Francisco Jewish community.”—Dr. Morton I. Teicher National Jewish Post And Opinion
“Captures the spirit of the Bay Area's Jewish community, its musical geniuses, assorted politicians, the good, the bad, the questionable and the just plain complex.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“With poetry and politics, arts and theater, big business and chicken farming, war and peace, religion and spiritualism, building frenzies and natural disasters, the elite and the outrageous, ‘Cosmopolitans’ will entertain and educate us all.”—San Francisco Chronicle
"At last, the Jews of San Francisco Bay have a history worthy of their community's storied past. Engaging, well documented, and brimming with insights, Cosmopolitans captures the vibrancy, the distinctiveness, the highlights and the lowlights of San Francisco Jewry. This is Fred Rosenbaum's magnum opus, the product of more than three decades of research."—Jonathan D. Sarna, author of American Judaism: A History

"Many are surprised to learn that Northern California and the San Francisco Bay Area are epicenters of Jewish-American civilization. In point of fact, no single community has contributed comparably to the rise and development of this region—and no book tells this story better than Fred Rosenbaum's Cosmopolitans."—Kevin Starr, University of Southern California

Anne and Robert Cowan Writers' Fund, Jewish Community Federation

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