“New Views on the Jews:
Ethnic and Racial Identity and Interaction in American Jewish History”
390E (American Jewish Diversity: Judaic 343)
Professor Dr. Aviva Ben-Ur
Classroom: To Be Announced
Office: Herter 731
Office Telephone: (413) 577-0649
Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00-11:00 a.m.
America/The United States has always placed enormous emphasis on ethnicity and race, both on an official level (e.g. slavery, racial censuses, national origin quotas) and on a layman’s level (social taboos regarding intermarriage; ethnic and racial stereotyping; ethnic and racial strife). Where does the Jewish community fit into these configurations?
This course focuses on the American Jewish community from 1654 until the present. We will explore self- and ascriptive Jewish identity through three often overlapping lenses: religious, ethnic and racial. Topics to be considered include Jewish identity as white, Asian, African, non-white, and “other”; American Jewish efforts to secure “white status”; inter- and intra-ethnic relations, particularly Ashkenazic/Sephardic, Jewish/African American; Jewish/Hispanic, and Jewish/Arab-American. The Jews for Jesus movement and its blurring of Jewish/Christian identity barriers, and homosexuality as a cultural identity in the Jewish community will also be addressed. A special emphasis will be placed on the impact of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews (Jews of Iberian, African and Middle Eastern origins) and on the image and identity of the American Jewish community. This course will combine historical with sociological approaches, emphasizing “race” as an ever-transforming, socially constructed category.
- · Ben-Ur, Aviva. Course Packet for “New Views on the Jews.” Available at Collective Copies. A copy of the Course Packet (herein referred to as CP) is available on reserve at W.E.B. DuBois library.
This class emphasizes both attendance and class participation. Each class will focus on the assigned readings and discussions of these readings. Reading averages 30 pages per class. In each class, one or two students will give a brief presentation on the readings and then lead the class in the discussion. There will be an open-book midterm and final exam in the form of essay questions. Students will also prepare two critical reviews of movies viewed in class.
- · Participation in class discussion-1/3
- · Oral presentation and quizzes-1/3
- · Final exam-1/3
Week 1: Overview: Jewish Self- and Ascribed Identity and Jewish Intra- and Inter-Ethnic Relations
- · Robert Singerman. “Introduction.” American Jewish History 77:1 (September 1987): 4-5.
- · Scott Cline. “Jewish-Ethnic Interactions: A Bibliographical Essay.” American Jewish History 77:1 (September 1987): 135-154.
- · “The American Experience.” In The Jew in the Modern World: A Documentary History, ed. Paul R. Mendes-Flohr and Jehuda Reinharz, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980, pp.354-356.
Week 2: “Old” Sephardim: Setting the Stage
- · Source documents from colonial America (Peter Stuyvesant and the Dutch West India Company), in Jacob Rader Marcus, The Jew in the American World: A Source Book, pp.29-33.
- · Nathan Glazer. American Judaism, pp.12-21.
- · Marcus, Jacob Rader. “The American Colonial Jew: A Study in Acculturation”, pp.6-17. In Jonathan Sarna, ed., The American Jewish Experience, New York and London: Holmes & Meier, 1997.
- · Norton B. Stern and William M. Kramer. “The Historical Recovery of the Pioneer Sephardic Jews of California.” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 8:1 (October 1975): 3-25.
- · Mordecai Manuel Noah. “Zipra Nunez’s Account of the Family’s Escape.” Diane Matza, ed., Sephardic-American Voices: Two Hundred Years of a Literary Legacy. Waltham, Mass.: Brandeis University Press, 1997, pp.23-24.
- · John Appel. “Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Presentation of the Spanish Jews.” Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society 45 (1955-6): 20-34.
- · Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. “The Jewish Cemetery at Newport.” The Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1884, pp.216-217.
Week 3: Jews and/as Germans
- · Barry E. Supple, “A Business Elite: German-Jewish Financiers in Nineteenth-Century New York”, pp.98-115. In Jonathan Sarna, ed., The American Jewish Experience.
- · Michael A. Meyer. “German-Jewish Identity in Nineteenth-Century America” in Jacob Katz, ed., Toward Modernity: The European Jewish Model (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Books, 1987, 247-267.
- · Stanley Nadel. “Jewish Race and German Soul in Nineteenth-Century America.” American Jewish History 77:1 (September 1987): 6-26.
- · Nathan Glazer, American Judaism, pp.22-42.
- · The “Traif Banquet” and The Pittsburgh Liberal Religious Platform, November 16-18, 1885. In Jacob Rader Marcus, The Jew in the American World: A Source Book, pp.240-243.
Week 4: Jews and/as Eastern Europeans
- · Sorin, Gerald, A Time for Building: The Third Migration, 1880-1920, pp.12-37.
- · Ewa Morawska. “A Replica of the ‘Old-Country’ Relationship in the Ethnic Niche: East European Jews and Gentiles in Small-Town Western Pennsylvania, 1880’s-1930’s.” American Jewish History 77:1 (September 1987): 27-86.
- · Harold Troper and Morton Weinfeld. “Jewish-Ukrainian Relations in Canada Since World War ll and the Emergence of the Nazi War Criminal Issue.” American Jewish History 77:1 (1987): 106-134.
- · Nathan Glazer, American Judaism, pp.60-78.
- · “Congressional Committee on Immigration: Temporary Suspension of Immigration (1920).” In The Jew in the Modern World: A Documentary History, pp.405-407.
Week 5: German and Eastern European Jews
- · Moses Rischin, “Germans versus Russians,” in Jonathan D. Sarna, The American Jewish Experience, pp.136-150.
- · Jeffrey S. Gurock, “Introduction”; Deborah Dash Moore, “The Ideal Slum”; and Selma Berrol, “German Versus Russians: An Update.” American Jewish History 73 (December 1983): 133-156.
- · Zosa Szajkowski, “The Yahudi and the Immigrant: A Reappraisal,” American Jewish Historical Quarterly 63 (September 1973): 13-45.
Week 6: Jews as a Racial, Religious and/or Ethnic Group
- · Rogoff, Leonard, “Is the Jew White?” The Racial Place of the Southern Jew,” American Jewish History 85:3 (September 1997): 195-230.
- · Eric L. Goldstein. “‘Different Blood Flows in Our Veins’: Race and Jewish Self-Definition in Late Nineteenth Century America.” American Jewish History 85:1 (1997): 29-55.
- · Montagu, introduction, pp.31-40 and chapter 4, “The Biological Facts,” pp.121-143 and chapter 8, “Biological and Social Factors,” 193-223. Montagu, Ashley. Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race. Sixth Edition. Abridged Student Edition, 1998.
- · Jonathan D. Sarna, “From Immigrants to Ethnics: Toward a New Theory of ‘Ethnicization’”, in Ethnicity 5 (1978): 370-378.
- · Jonathan D. Sarna. “American Anti-Semitism”, in History and Hate: The Dimensions of Anti-Semitism, ed. David Berger, Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1986, pp.115-128.
Week 7: Jews and/as Hispanics/Latinos
- · Angel, Marc D. “The Sephardim of the United States: An Exploratory Study.” American Jewish Year Book 74 (1973): 77-138.
- · Seymour B. Liebman. “Cuban Jewish Community in South Florida.” A Coat of Many Colors: Jewish Subcommunities in the United States, ed. Abraham D. Lavender, Greenwood Press, 1977, pp.298-304.
- · “Postemas de Mujer” (“Pet Peeves of a Woman”). An advice column by Bula Satula (Pseudonym of Moise B. Soulam), in La Vara (“The Staff,” New York) November 30, 1928.
- · Victor Perera. “The IQ and I: My Adventures Near the Bottom of the Bell Curve.” pp.106-116. In Diane Matza, ed., Sephardic-American Voices: Two Hundred Years of a Literary Legacy, Waltham, Mass.: Brandeis University Press, 1997.
- · Peter Beinart. “New Bedfellows.” The New Republic (August 11 & 18 1997): 22-26.
Week 8: Jews and the Crypto-Jewish Movement of the Hispanic Southwest
- · Stanley M. Hordes. “The Inquisition and the Crypto-Jewish Community in Colonial New Spain and New Mexico.” Western States Jewish History 24:2 (January 1992): 106-118.
- · David S. Nadel. “Modern Descendants of Conversos in New Mexico.” Western States Jewish History 16:3 (April 1984): 249-262.
- · Richard G. Santos. “Chicanos of Jewish Descent in Texas.” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 15:4 (July 1983): 327-333.
- · Trudi Alexy. “Crypto-Jews of the American Southwest.” Western States Jewish History 27:1 (October 1994): 73-86.
- · Judith Neulander. “Crypto-Jews of the Southwest: An Imagined Community.” Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Review 16:1 (1994): 64-68.
- · David Mayer Gradwohl. “On Vestiges and Identities: Some Thoughts on the Controversy Concerning ‘Crypto-Jews’ in the American Southwest” and letters to editor. In Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Review 18: 1-2 (1996): 83-87.
Week 9: Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews
- · Aviva Ben-Ur. Chapter 3 (“Sephardic/Ashkenazic Encounters”, pp.55-99) and appendices pp.280-334. Where Diasporas Met: Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews in the City of New York: A Study in Intra-Ethnic Relations, 1880-1950. Ph.D. dissertation, Brandeis University, 1998.
- · Articles from the Anglo-Jewish press. Marion Golde, “Children of the Inquisition”; “Voice of the People”, 5/24/18; and “Voice of the People,” 5/31/18.
- · Walter P. Zenner. “Common Ethnicity and Separate Identities: Interaction Between Jewish Immigrant Groups.” International and Intercultural Communication Annual 11 (1987): 267-285.
Week 10: How the Jews Became White
- · Brodkin, Karen. How Jews Became White Folks & What That Says About Race in America. New Brunswick, New Jersey and London: Rutgers University Press, 1998.
Week 11: Jews and/as African Americans
- · Film: “Blacks & Jews.” Snitow-Kaufman Productions. Produced by Bari Scott, Deborah Kaufman and Alan Snitow. San Francisco, CA: California Newsreel, 1997.
- · Eli Faber. Introduction (pp.1-10); and Conclusion (pp.143-146.) Jews, Slaves, and the Slave Trade: Setting the Record Straight. New York: New York University Press, 1998.
- · Maurice Berger. White Lies: Race and the Myths of Whiteness. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999, pp.5-8; 13-14; 40-42; 78; 102-3; 107-109; 110-111 and 114.
- · Julius Lester. Lovesong: Becoming a Jew. H. Holt, 1988, selections.
- · William Toll. “Pluralism and Moral Force in the Black-Jewish Dialogue.” American Jewish History 77:1 (1987): 87-105.
Week 12: Jews and/as Arab Americans
- · Film: “Benaat Chicago (daughters of Chicago): growing up Arab and female in Chicago.” Seattle, WA: Arab Film Distribution, 1996. 30 minutes.
- · Dina Dahbany-Miraglia. “American Yemenite Jews: Interethnic Strategies,” Persistence & Flexibility: Anthropological Perspectives on the American Jewish Experience. Walter P. Zenner, ed. New York: State University of New York Press, pp.63-78.
Week 13: Jews and/as Christians: Jews for Jesus, Messianic Jews, and the Question of Inclusion
- · Dan Cohn-Sherbok. Messianic Judaism. London, New York: Cassell, 2000, selections.
- · Juliene G. Lipson. Jews for Jesus: An Anthropological Study. New York: AMS Press, 1990, selections.
- Film: “Brother Born Again,” directed by Julia Pimsleur. A Big Mouth Productions Film, 2000. 57 minutes.
Week 14: Jews and/as ‘Queers’: Homosexuality as a Cultural Identity
- · Film: “Trembling Before God”
- · “Treyf: a film by Alisa Lebow and Cynthia Madansky.” Produced and directed by Alisa Lebow and Cynthia Madansky. New York, NY: Treyf Productions: Women Make Movies [Distributor], 1998. 54 min.
- · Rebecca Trachtenberg Alpert. Like Bread on the Seder Plate: Jewish Lesbians and the Transformation of Tradition. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997, selections.
Week 15: Epilogue-Jews Fitting In: Race, Ethnicity and Religion Today
- · Mary C. Waters. “Flux and Choice in American Ethnicity.” In Mary C. Waters, Ethnic Options: Choosing Identities in America, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oxford: University of California Press, 1990, pp.16-51 and 169.
- · Ethnic/Racial background survey forms. (Listed under “Queens College Applicant...” and “Voluntary Information Survey...”)
Final Exam: time and place to be announced