JWST 334 Early American Jewish History

This class focuses on the period from the earliest Jewish settlers in mid-seventeenth century colonial America through the establishment of viable Jewish communities and institutions by the latter part of the nineteenth century. It covers the so-called Sephardic and Germanic periods of American-Jewish history, prior to the wave of Eastern European immigration. Among the themes explored are the tension between Jewish identity and the pressures of assimilation; the transformation of the synagogue; the emergence of Jewish social and cultural institutions; changing religious practices and the rise of Reform Judaism. Events and themes are placed within the broader context of American history.