A place for history teachers, students and enthusiasts

Jewish American Heritage Month
Reading Group - May 2017

Welcome to our group. We observe Jewish American History Month by reading three books on Jewish American History and one work of Jewish American literature. For many people this is a lot of read so you may choose to read only one or two of the books.

We will also have an emphasis on Jewish American Cinema and listen to some wonderful Jewish American Composers.

Please Read: Suggestions on how to Meaningfully and Constructively Participate in our History Reading Groups

Thank you for your interest.

Our Jewish American Heritage Reading List

Jewish American History

  • American Judaism: A History by Jonathan D. Sarna

    This magisterial work chronicles the 350-year history of the Jewish religion in America. Tracing American Judaism from its origins in the colonial era through the present day, Jonathan Sarna explores the ways in which Judaism adapted in this new context. How did American culture - predominantly Protestant and overwhelmingly capitalist - affect Jewish religion and culture? And how did American Jews shape their own communities and faith in the new world? Jonathan Sarna, a preeminent scholar of American Judaism, tells the story of individuals struggling to remain Jewish while also becoming American. He offers a dynamic and timely history of assimilation and revitalisation, of faith lost and faith regained. The first comprehensive history of American Judaism in over fifty years, this book is both a celebration of 350 years of Jewish life in America and essential reading for anyone interested in American religion and life.
  • The American Jewish Story through Cinema by Eric A. Goldman

    Like the haggadah, the traditional “telling” of the story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt that is read at the Passover seder, cinema offers a valuable text from which to gain an understanding of the social, political, and cultural realities of Jews in America. In an industry strongly influenced by Jewish filmmakers who made and continue to make the decisions as to which films are produced, the complex and evolving nature of the American Jewish condition has had considerable impact on American cinema and, in particular, on how Jews are reflected on the screen. This groundbreaking study analyzes select mainstream films from the beginning of the sound era to today to provide an understanding of the American Jewish experience over the last century.
  • American Jewish History: A Primary Source Reader by Gary Phillip Zola (Editor) Marc Dollinger (Editor)

    A treasure trove of primary source documents on American Jewish history, culture, and life

Jewish American Literature

  • The Rise of David Levinsky by Abraham Cahan

    Abraham Cahan (1860-1951) was a Lithuanian-born American communalist newspaper editor, politician, and novelist. His family, who was devoutly religious, moved to Vilna, Lithuania in 1866 where the young Cahan received the usual Jewish preparatory education for the rabbinate. He, however, was attracted by secular knowledge and secretly studied the Russian language, ultimately entering the Teachers Institute of Vilna. Four years after his arrival in New York, he quickly mastered the English language and taught immigrants in an evening school. "The Rise of David Levinsky" was written in response to a request from the admired "McClure's" magazine for articles recounting the success of East European immigrants in the U.S. It aims to be a memoir written thirty years after the young David Levinsky arrived in the U.S. with four cents in his pocket. Since, he has accumulated more than two million dollars and is the owner of a leading cloak-and-suit factory, but is still not pleased. The novel is divided into fourteen books, each consisting of several chapters.


Jewish American History Month Reading Group Facebook Page


Complete Reading Schedule By Day In May 2017