Real Jews

Exploration of the relationship between Jews and America is far from complete, at least among Jewish conservatives, who do not rely on their religious traditions as explicitly as do some among the Christian right. There has been some speculation in Jewish circles that the reason Jews in America have prospered is because both Judaism and the United States are founded upon ideas: Judaism, this theory contends, is based on monotheism as America is based on freedom. Though perhaps true, this contention is only a partial explanation of either Judaism or America. Of all the major world religions, few could be said to be more rooted in history and memory than Judaism. The history of the Jews is, after all, a history of the relationship of a people with its God and of the conviction that God has prepared a place for His chosen people. To reduce the ritual order and historical consciousness of the Jewish religion to a bland devotion is a disservice, and to minimize the importance of America's concrete history in the development of its political institutions, which grew out of a definite Common Law tradition, is likewise a distortion of the record. Such an understanding of Judaism and America opens the way for ideology; a zealous attachment to abstract principles leads one to occlude the historical perspective.

Jacob Neusner's book is a collection of previously published articles that discusses the usual topics of conservative interest:...

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