Bad Jews: A His­to­ry of Amer­i­can Jew­ish Pol­i­tics and Identities

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2021

Through­out Amer­i­can his­to­ry, Jew­ish iden­ti­ties have evolved and trans­formed in a vari­ety of ways. The issue of what it means, or doesn’t, to be a good Jew or a bad Jew is par­tic­u­lar­ly fraught at this moment, Amer­i­can Jews feel and fear anti­semitism is on the rise. ere are sev­er­al mil­lion peo­ple who iden­ti­fy as Amer­i­can Jews — but that doesn’t mean they all iden­ti­fy with one anoth­er. Amer­i­can Jew­ish his­to­ry is full of dis­cus­sions and debates and hand wring­ing over who is Jew­ish, how to be Jew­ish, and what it means to be Jewish.

In Bad Jews, Emi­ly Tamkin exam­ines the last 100 years of Amer­i­can Jew­ish pol­i­tics, cul­ture, iden­ti­ties, and argu­ments. Draw­ing on over 150 inter­views, she tracks the evo­lu­tion of Jew­ish­ness through­out Amer­i­can his­to­ry, and explores many of the evolv­ing and con­flict­ing Jew­ish posi­tions on assim­i­la­tion; race; Zion­ism and Israel; afflu­ence and pover­ty, phil­an­thropy, finance, pol­i­tics; and social jus­tice. From this com­plex and nuanced his­to­ry, Tamkin pin­points per­haps the one truth about Amer­i­can Jew­ish iden­ti­ty: It is always changing.

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