This issue of American Jewish History includes another article in our new series, Signposts, which invites leading scholars to reflect upon this journal and the ways in which it furthers our understanding of American Jewish life. Launched in 1892, the journal does more than reveal the concerns and interests of the many authors published in its pages. It also helps us to understand both the winds of change that have buffeted the American Jewish community over more than 120 years and the many social currents that have swept Jews to new experiences and perspectives.
As we embark upon the centennial commemoration of World War I, an event that impacted Jews in profound ways, Hasia Diner assesses two significant articles by Max Kohler that reveal both the concerns of their time and the motivation for writing about Jews that so energized their author. Published in 1916 and 1918 on the heels of the war, Kohler's "long and meticulous" pieces marshaled data on Jews that contributed to the international effort to ensure the rights of minorities in Europe--a humanitarian goal that soon became a concern of Woodrow Wilson's administration.
Following Diner's article, Robert Benjamin provides an analysis of the impact of Ludwig Lewisohn's 1928 novel, The Island Within. The book's reception helps us to understand the fluid nature of Jewish-gentile relations in the United States during the 1920s. Benjamin explains, "The tone and reception of (Lewisohn's book) were shaped by an easing of tensions ... from the mid-to-late 1920s." His analysis explores the ways that fluidity influenced both Lewisohn and his readers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Finally, Michal Ostrovsky's analysis of the European Jewish Children's Aid and its work with young Holocaust survivors returns us to the question of war's effect on American Jewry. While Diner reflected upon one of the ways World War I energized American Jews to become involved in an international effort to assist Europe's Jews, Ostrovsky shows the transformation in an American children's aid society a few decades later as it strived to help children who had survived the Holocaust only to find themselves homeless and stateless. To be effective, the EJCA needed to rethink and restructure its work and its organization.
Together, these articles suggest that in the first half of the twentieth century, at least some American Jews were not isolationists. They argued for international human rights, they responded to a brief easing of Jewish-gentile tensions as stricter U.S. immigration laws took effect, and they organized efforts to assist Jews in Europe at the close of World War II.
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|Publication:||American Jewish History|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2015|
|Previous Article:||Congratulations to Wasserman Prize Winner Dr. Ronnie Grinberg.|
|Next Article:||Signposts: publications of the American Jewish Historical Society and World War I.|