Tuesday, September 23, 2014
JEWISH JOURNAL OF GREATER LOS ANGELES -- Don’t let the title of “American Jewish History: A Primary Source Reader” intimidate you (Brandeis University Press). Despite the surface hint that the volume may be best suited for scholars, this book has a rightful place in every American Jewish home. Many of us may have grown up with a Tanakh, a siddur and a Passover haggadah in the house, but how many have reached bar or bat mitzvah (or beyond) with a clear or even semi-complete understanding of the Jewish presence in America since colonial days? This book, edited by Gary Phillip Zola and Marc Dollinger, who holds the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility at San Francisco State University, provides just such a canvas. It begins with the arrival of the first Jews in New Amsterdam in in 1654 and concludes with President Obama’s 2013 Jewish American Heritage Month Proclamation.