The Chosen People in America

9780253209610: Paperback
Release Date: 22nd November 1983

Dimensions: 155 x 235

Number of Pages: 238

Series The Modern Jewish Experience

Indiana University Press

The Chosen People in America

A Study in Jewish Religious Ideology

Paperback / £15.99

"This is a book of extraordinary quality and importance. In tracing the encounter of Jews (the chosen people) and America (the chosen nation).. Eisen has given the American Jewish community a new understanding of itself." —American Jewish Archives

"... one of the most significant books on American Jewish thought written in recent years." —Choice

What does it mean to be a Jew in America? What opportunities and what threats does the great melting pot represent for a group that has traditionally defined itself as "a people that must dwell alone"? Although for centuries the notion of "The Chosen People" sustained Jewish identity, America, by offering Jewish immigrants an unprecedented degree of participation in the larger society, threatened to erode their Jewish identity and sense of separateness.
Arnold M. Eisen charts the attempts of American Jewish thinkers to adapt the notion of chosenness to an American context. Through an examination of sermons, essays, debates, prayer-book revisions, and theological literature, Eisen traces the ways in which American rabbis and theologians—Reconstructionist, Conservative, and Orthodox thinkers—effected a compromise between exclusivity and participation that allowed Jews to adapt to American life while simultaneously enhancing Jewish tradition and identity.


Part One: Introduction
I. A Part and Apart

Part Two: The Second Generation (1930-1955)
II. Nation, People, Religion-What Are We?
III. Reform Judaism and the Mission unto the Nations
IV. Mordecai Kaplan and the New Jewish Vocation
V. Conservatism, Orthodoxy, and th Affirmation of Election

Part Three: The Third Generation (1955-1980)
VI. Ambassadors at Home
VII. Children of the Halfway Covenant

Part Four: Conclusion
VIII. The Lessons of Choseness in America


ARNOLD M. EISEN is Professor of Religious Studies at Stanford University and author of Galut: Modern Jewish Reflection on Homelessness and Homecoming.