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Faith or Fear: How Jews Can Survive in a Christian America Paperback – May 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (May 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684871041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684871042
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 6.1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,476,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Jewish population in the United States may shrink by two million people in the next half-century. This demographic likelihood--well known in Jewish circles and due almost entirely to intermarriage--creates a dilemma for group survival. A big part of the problem, writes Elliott Abrams, has been the secularization of Jewish life. Abrams uncovers data showing that Jews are among the least religious people in America. Many have made a tragic mistake in equating Jewish security with removing all forms of religious devotion from public life. And now, says Abrams, they must either rediscover the faith that can sustain them or risk vanishing into the great American melting pot. Provocative, but persuasive, this highly readable book deserves a wide audience. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Neoconservative writer Abrams (Security and Sacrifice, Hudson Inst., 1995), who had a controversial career in politics as a former assistant secretary of state in the Reagan administration, is now the director of a Washington, D.C., think tank. Like Alan Dershowitz in his The Vanishing American Jew (LJ 3/1/97), Abrams is concerned with the loss of Jewish identity in an attractive, amorphous American culture. While both seek a revitalization of the Jewish spirit, Dershowitz sees belief in a deity as just a part of Jewish cultural renewal; Abrams believes that the only way for Jews to survive is by renewed religious faith. Dershowitz scorns the Orthodox methods of separateness, while Abrams believes Jews should emulate some of them. Abrams also argues for the benefits of a school voucher plan and heeding the influence of evangelical Christian groups. Libraries that ordered the Dershowitz tome may want to buy this one for comparison and contrast. Recommended for libraries serving a Jewish clientele.?Paul M. Kaplan, Lake Villa Dist. Library, Ill.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

[Photo: Kaveh Sardari/Council on Foreign Relations]


Elliott Abrams is Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C. He served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor in the Administration of President George W. Bush, where he supervised U.S. policy in the Middle East for the White House.

Mr. Abrams was educated at Harvard College, the London School of Economics, and Harvard Law School. After serving on the staffs of Sen. Henry M. Jackson and Daniel P. Moynihan, he was an Assistant Secretary of State in the Reagan Administration and received the Secretary of State's Distinguished Service Award from Secretary George P. Shultz.

Mr. Abrams was president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., from 1996 until joining the White House staff. He was a member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom from 1999 to 2001 and Chairman of the Commission in the latter year, and in 2012 was reappointed to membership for another term. Mr. Abrams is also a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, which directs the activities of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. He teaches U.S. foreign policy at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.

Mr. Abrams joined the Bush Administration in June, 2001 as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the NSC for Democracy, Human Rights, and International Organizations. From December 2002 to February 2005, he served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the National Security Council for Near East and North African Affairs. He served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy from February 2005 to January 2009, and in that capacity supervised both the Near East and North African Affairs, and the Democracy, Human Rights, and International Organizations directorates of the NSC.

He is the author of three books, Undue Process (1993), Security and Sacrifice (1995), and Faith or Fear: How Jews Can Survive in a Christian America (1997), and the editor of three more, Close Calls: Intervention, Terrorism, Missile Defense and "Just War" Today; Honor Among Nations: Intangible Interests and Foreign Policy; and The Influence of Faith: Religion and American Foreign Policy.

His new book, Tested by Zion: the Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, will be published by Cambridge University Press at the end of 2012.





Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Despite 3000 years of history, Jews still argue over who is a Jew. Abrams addresses a lot of the issues surrounding this: Judaism as a religion vs. as a culture, intermarriage, et al. He also addresses how these ideas apply to American history, culture, and politics. To his credit, he states his biases up front, but he also does a good job backing up his assertions with surveys and anecdotes that, at least for me, resonated.
The book is well-written and an easy read, which is a compliment for a book with an academic tone. Abrams' analysis of the generational patterns of American Jews maintaining or losing their Jewish identity are quite right, and a must read for any Jew who wants Jewish grandchildren. Some of Abrams' arguments were less convincing.
Whatever your reaction to the book, the discussion will never end. (Insert your favorite Jewish mother or Jewish guilt joke here). This book represents a productive contribution to that discussion, and as such I recommend it to anyone who is concerned with personal or societal Jewish identity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By SS Ranto on June 28, 2013
Format: Paperback
In the June 21, 2013 J Magazine op/ed, local Conservative Rabbi Menachem Creditor bemoans the shutdown of the Conservative movement's college outreach program. He then explains why the American Conservative movement (USCJ) is declining, but declining it is. "Fewer and fewer synagogues are affiliated with USCJ..."

Elliott Abrams, in his book Faith or Fear, How Jews Can Survive in a Christian America, tackles the problem of Jewish continuity. Will Jews in America survive the ravages of assimilation and population decline?

"The results of the National Jewish Population Study of 1990, and several other major works of research, draw the portrait of a community in decline, facing a demographic disaster. The term "disaster" is no exaggeration: Jews, who once comprised 3.7 percent of the U.S. population, have fallen to about 2 percent....Demographers predict a drop of anywhere from one million to over two million in the American Jewish population in the next two generations" (pp.1-2).

At the same time, however, Orthodox Jews are increasing their numbers. Never has the Orthodox community been more vibrant, opening day schools and synagogues and demanding that marriage stay within the faith. Ironically, " the very Jewish groups who most loudly profess their anxiety about Christians are, with a frequency never before seen in all of Jewish history, marrying them" (P.99). Intermarriage is rampant because antisemitism among Christians has declined significantly over the last 80 years. At the same time much of the non-Orthodox Jewish community has abandoned Jewish ritual practice and injunctions against intermarriage. In its place the mainstream Jewish community has taken up the religion of secularism and liberalism--all religion is an anachronism and abhorrent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Wayne G. Johnson on July 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
Faith or Fear: How Jews Can Survive in a Christian America

Abrams' book is well worth the read for anyone with interest in the religious scene in the U.S. He clearly outlines the problem of the erosion of Jewish religious believers in the more or less tolerant society. His concern is that Jewish identity will gradually be lost through intermarriage and the eroding of Jewish religious training and practice. His remedy would be to bring the genuine religious dimension back into the life and practice of those who want to keep identity as Jews.

What is missing in his analysis is the problem of the rational justification of religious beliefs. Therein lies a problem he does not seem to recognize. But consider the following men of Jewish background who are either confirmed agnostics or outright atheists: Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, Steven Pinker, Isaac Asimov, Freud. The list could be extended. Einstein once observed that religions, including Judaism, are incarnations of the most primitive beliefs. These men, as many others, have a strong sense of their Jewish heritage, but they could hardly support Abrams' admonition to build formal religious belief and practice back into their lives.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful By CharmedLife on February 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
If anyone hadn't heard his name before, just a reminder, this author was the Assistant Secretary of State during the Reagan era. His book these reads like a report on Jewish life in illreverant America. While his argument on the state of Jewish idenity is well defended, (ie, like minimizing the religious aspect of the Jewish idenity and having major jewish organizations not supporting the religiously observant publically has lead to a loss of jewish poeple #s, etc.) it has some obvious flaws.

For example, he says that today's role of the Christian right and anti-semetism has been overexagerrated and feared by Jews. Great strides in the Christian-Jewish dialigoe has minimize hate teaching and proselytizing of jews by christian organizations. There is a great acceptance of Jews as senators,etc and other community leadership roles. And true, fundamentalists and evangetical organizations are no longer targeting jews per se and actually support Israel. But what is ignored is that they no longer have to directly. Why there are separate organizations that allow jews to do it to themselves. They are called Jews for Jesus and Messianic synagogues! There are over 100 messianic synagogues in Israel alone! Why no mention in the book? These outreach efforts are funded by the very evangetical organizations jews should not fear in allowing support to their religious political/educational agendas - in exchange of orthodox jewish ones.

Another example that struck me a bit off is the "abandonment" of the outreach to jews of mixed ethnic origins ("half" and "quarter" jews). Granted he does not say this directly, but he suggests money being more well spent in educating the remaining full jews from marrying outside the faith completely, regardless of a spousal conversion.
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