07 August 2008

Book: Encyclopedia of American Jewish History

The Dallas News carried a story about the Encyclopedia of American Jewish History, which includes articles by 125 prominent scholars in the US, Canada, Israel and Europe, and illustrates the experiences of America's Jews and their impact on American society and culture over the centuries.

The two-volume, 775 page publication was published last fall.

Why did compiler Dr. Eunice Pollack, a lecturer in history and Jewish studies at the University of North Texas decide on this project?

Instead of alphabetized facts, the work features 192 articles in 27 thematic sections, including Zionism (the movement for Jewish statehood), civil rights, social change movements, immigration, sports, entertainment, and even rock 'n' roll. The focus is not only on religion, but also ethnicity.
"A lot of [college students] take only a survey course in American history, and even those who major in history know nothing about Jews," she says. "But I don't think you can understand American history without understanding them.

"Jews have had a profound role in shaping America, even though they've never been much more than 3 percent of its population."
Nearly all writers they asked to contribute articles did so. Sir Martin Gilbert of the UK provided the maps.

Her husband Dr. Steven Norwood, a University of Oklahoma history professor was co-editor. Pollack and her husband live in Oklahoma and she commutes to UNT.

Brandeis University professor and chief historian for the National Museum of American Jewish History Jonathan Sarna said the publication is useful, "especially in those articles where a specialist in a particular field sums up an aspect of American Jewish life in a small space, and in articles on subjects hard to find elsewhere."

Read the entire article at the link above.

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