This course will provide an overview of American Jewish History from 1654-2020. Students will examine the inaugural community and its origins in Western Europe, its integration into Colonial American life, subsequent immigrants and their part in US growth and expansion, the period of mass immigration by eastern European Jews, the interwar growth and establishment of Jewish institutions, the active role of the community in the establishment of the State of Israel, the US Civil Rights movement, and the movement for freedom of Jews in the Soviet Union. Finally, the course will examine significant trends in the American Jewish community from 1980-2020 and predictions for future growth.
Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Explain how the social and religious differences of Jews affected their ability to assimilate into Christian Europe of the Middle Ages.
- Describe how the colonization of the New World created the opportunity for Jews to improve their lot.
- Observe how the 1800’s, Jewish communities increased, following the path of US expansion, while individuals increased in economic and political power.
- Compare the backgrounds, ambitions, and achievements of Western European Jews that made up the second wave of Jewish immigration with those of their predecessors, and the impact they had on their community.
- Relate how mass emigration of eastern European Jews (1880-1924) changed the face of American Jewry.
- Demonstrate how the work to achieve Jewish communal growth and organization (1920-1950) laid the infrastructure for exponential post-WW2 strength.
- Describe post World War II increase in anti-immigrant and antisemitic sentiment and the impact it had on the American Jewish community.
- Compare and contrast the attitudes and actions of American Jewish leaders Peter Bergson, Rabbi Steven Wise, and Rabbi Eliezer Silver (Va’ad Hatzalah) in response to the Holocaust.
- Describe the actions taken by the American Jewish community to aid in the establishment of the State of Israel.
- Trace the social-economic path of American Jews towards greater liberalism and demonstrate knowledge of Jewish participation in the Civil Rights movements.
- Describe the actions of the Jewish community in seeking freedom for Soviet Jews.
- Analyze patterns of Jewish community growth and assimilation and make predictions for future trends.
Course Activities and Grading
Weekly Journals - Textbook Reading or Video Viewing Response (Weeks 1-8)
Discussions (Week 2, 3, 4, & 5)
Reading Review Questions (Week 1, 4 & 6)
Reports (Week 2, 3 & 5)
Essays (Week 5 & 7)
Slideshow Presentation (Week 7)
Final Paper (Week 8)
Available through Charter Oak's online bookstore
- Diner, H. The Jews of the United States, 1654 to 2000. 1st ed. University of California Press, 2004. ISBN-13: : 978-0-520-24848-9
Readings and Exercises
Topics:Coming to America
Topic: The Jewish-American Community Takes Hold in the United States
Topic: Eastern European Immigration Changes the Face of the American Jewish Community
Topic: The Jewish American Community’s Response to the Holocaust:
Topic: American Jews and the Establishment of the State of Israel
Topics: The Post World War II American-Jewish Community Embraces Liberalism and the Cause of Civil Rights
Topic: The American Jewish Community Unifies on Behalf of Soviet Jewry
Topic: The American Jewish Path into the Twenty-First Century
COSC Accessibility Statement
Charter Oak State College encourages students with disabilities, including non-visible disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, head injury, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, or psychiatric disabilities, to discuss appropriate accommodations with the Office of Accessibility Services at OAS@charteroak.edu.
COSC Policies, Course Policies, Academic Support Services and Resources
Students are responsible for knowing all Charter Oak State College (COSC) institutional policies, course-specific policies, procedures, and available academic support services and resources. Please see COSC Policies for COSC institutional policies, and see also specific policies related to this course. See COSC Resources for information regarding available academic support services and resources.