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American Jewish Desk Reference: The Ultimate One-Volume Reference to the Jewish Experience in America Hardcover – October 19, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

What do Superman, the Manhattan Project, and Star Trek's "Live long and prosper" hand sign have in common? They're all deeply rooted in the American Jewish experience, which is exhaustively documented in the American Jewish Desk Reference. Over 600 pages of timelines, biographies, and encyclopedia-style essays encompass the broad scope of hundreds of years of Jews and Judaism in the United States. Organized into sections including "Judaism and Community in America," "Sports and Games," and "Language and Literature," the book presents its subjects alphabetically or chronologically (in the history section), making particular entries simple to find.

The more than 700 entries tell about the first bat mitzvah in 1922, the American response to the Six Days War, and great Jewish basketball player Dolph Schayes. Plenty of photographs from the American Jewish Historical Society illustrate the life stories and historical essays, and add a visual sense of the spirit of life to the well-chosen words. The history section is both concise and comprehensive, beginning with Joachim Gaunse's 1588 arrival on Roanoke Island and closing--for the moment--with the 1999 opening of the Center for Jewish History in New York. Be warned: It's very hard to keep from browsing, so if you need information in a hurry you'll have to struggle to focus. On the other hand, browsing the American Jewish Desk Reference brings so much pleasure you might find yourself learning more than you intended. --Rob Lightner

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up-A comprehensive discussion of the history, religious practices, and culture of Jewish people. The book begins with a 36-page chronology. Subsequent chapters deal with aspects of life in the U.S. such as "Rituals, Celebrations, Holidays, and Family Life"; "Business, Labor, and Finance"; and "Music, Dance, and Theater." Each chapter starts with a list of topics to be discussed, followed by a brief overview of the subject. Next come quick biographies of significant people in the field (women are well represented) and/or short essays about a particular facet of the general theme. These well-written articles, though sometimes mildly opinionated, are not always signed. Each chapter concludes with a list for further reading. Throughout the book, sidebars clarify, expand on, or offer anecdotes on the different subjects. Occasional black-and white photographs illustrate the volume. Boldfaced see-also references and a detailed index facilitate access. While there are many books on the Jewish experience, this useful biographical and historical reference tool includes valuable supplementary information for immigration studies and will provide hours of enjoyment to browsers.
Linda Greengrass, Bank Street College Library, New York City
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Reference; 1st edition (October 19, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375402438
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375402432
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 8.5 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,164,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 16, 2000
While I agree with many of the positive comments made about this book, there are, of course, many omissions. Decisions about what to include or exclude in such a book will never satisfy everyone. My search for mention and discussion of several prominent Rabbis of the 20th century (e.g., R. Telushkin, R. Riemer, R. Schulweis, R. Wolpe) yielded no mention. Dr. Ruth, however, has a very nice photo!
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For anyone seeking information on Judaism in the United States, whether it be personal biographies, individual accomplishments, events, themes, or contemporary issues, this work will provide an answer. It covers almost every aspect of Jewish culture, including family life, religion, politics, entertainment, education, the humanities, sports, history, rituals, science and language. There are also a number of in-depth essays, written by experts and with accompanying citations for further reading. Also included are over 100 photographs from the American Jewish Historical Society, and countless sidebars with interesting statistical and other tidbits of information. A full analytical index and a detailed table of contents provide easy access to needed information. All in all, a wonderfully comprehensive work that should prove a fine addition to any personal library.
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