From Publishers Weekly
American Jews' assimilation required a drastic modification of their commitment to sacred law and holy land, contends Wellesley College historian Auerbach. In his scenario, Jews transferred their allegiance from the Torah to the Constitution--from a covenantal relationship with God to a secular outlook shaped by constitutional principles promoting individual freedom. In a rewarding, challenging study, Auerbach ( Justice Without Law? ) maintains this metamorphosis was abetted by rabbis like Isaac Mayer Wise and such lawyers as Louis Brandeis and Louis Marshall who "taught Jews how to become Americans." He faults Reform rabbi Stephen S. Wise for "deferential caution" in his failed attempt to prod FDR into rescuing Europe's Jewry from Hitler's impending bloodbath. He also takes aim at optimistic celebrants of a revitalized Judaism like Charles Silberman and Leonard Fine. Sure to be hotly debated, this book recasts the debate on Jewish acculturation in new terms.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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About the Author
Dr. Auerbach is Emeritus Professor of History at Wellesley College, and the author of acclaimed books on the U.S. legal profession, Israel, American Judaism, and the Pueblo Indians.