From Publishers Weekly
This book of essays and photographs, released in hardcover in 1995 to critical acclaim, is now available in an updated, revised paperback edition at less than half the hardcover asking price. The content is outstanding. The essays (by Brandeis University's Sarna, museum curator Smith, and a host of other scholars) are at once weighty and accessible to general readers who are interested in the history of Boston's Jews. From the first recorded Jew in the city (Solomon Franco, in 1649) to the 21st century, this volume organizes the Jewish experience into chronological and thematic order, with various essays addressing assimilation, synagogues, philanthropy, Zionism, education and culture. More than 100 illustrations and photographs bring history to life: we see images of community centers and synagogues, yes, but we also see Jewish life in action: customers waiting outside a kosher butchery in Brookline; a multiracial klezmer musical troupe at the New England conservatory; a ladies' auxiliary of Beth Israel hospital in 1915. The book contains some new material not in the 1995 edition, including an essay by a Boston College historian on Jewish-Christian relations, and a piece by Sarna and Kosofsky on developments since 1995. More than just a community history, this excellent book uses Boston's experience as a window into understanding American Judaism more generally.
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Twelve essays by Jewish historians trace Boston's Jewish community from its colonial beginnings to the present, a span of nearly 350 years. Sarna begins with his essay on the historical perspective of the Jews, followed by two essays by Smith. The first, on the Jews of colonial Boston, goes back to 1649, when the first Sephardic scholar and trader arrived from Holland. Her second essay focuses on Jewish immigration to the city between 1840 and 1880 and how the Jews began to prosper in the late 1870s. Other essays discuss the emergence of a unified community, 1880 to 1917; the period from 1917 to 1967, when the Jewish population grew from an estimated 75,000 to 176,000; and the period between 1967 and 1994, a time of social change. Others focus on Boston's Jewish neighborhoods, Zionism, and the city's synagogues. And there are essays assessing Boston Jewish philanthropy, education, and culture. More than 250 historic photographs, engravings, and documents complement the text. George Cohen
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