American Judaism
Prof. Hasia Diner
New York University
Spring 2005

     This course, which is jointly listed in the Department of History and the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, is both a research seminar and a course intended to introduce students to some of the basic issues in the history of Judaism in America. It is rooted in both the field of modern Jewish history and the history of religion in America. We will be doing a number of common readings together. Students will prepare an original research paper, based on primary sources, which explores some aspect of the history of Judaism in America. Some of those key issues involve the clash or connection between “Jewishness” as an ethnic identity and Judaism as a religious system, the impact of voluntarism and the absence of state involvement in the inner life of American denominations on Judaism, the divergence between Judaism as a rabbinic-driven, legally (halachically) constituted religion and everyday practices shaped by ordinary Jews, the impact of American forms on Judaism, and the emergence of popular forms of Judaic practice in America.

Readings: