Excerpt and Reviews

Book Excerpt:

From Jewish in America:

Jewish assimilation in Europe and Jewish Americanization are distinguishable from each other because the terms of Americanization for immigrants are less stringent, less demanding, for citizenship. While assimilation speaks to the absorption of newcomers into the body and culture of the new host nation, Americanization—the terms of American citizenship—permits a dual or hybrid identity that does not require a full change from the “old” culture. Underpinning Americanization is the original ideal of pluralist democracy that George Washington proclaimed at the country’s beginning, an ideal quite different from European ones. We are not a nation with a common culture and history to protect, he wrote in his welcoming letter to a small Jewish congregation in 1790, but rather a nation of diverse peoples under a common democratic government that requires allegiance—and it is the job of the new government to protect the differentness of its peoples. Thus, Washington made an unqualified promise of protected pluralist citizenship for Jews—the first such promise ever made to them—in a country where “every one shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”


…you nailed the difference between the European and American Jewish experience…understanding the historical context of why the U.S. has been different, particularly the different attitude of Protestant America and Catholic Europe regarding the Jewish religion.

— Rick Jay

Richard Rubin’s shining tribute to the at-homeness of American Jews is both a robust sociopolitical study and a heartfelt praisesong.

— Cynthia Ozick
Award-winning American writer

A must-read for anyone interested in the past and future role of Jews in American life, and in the impact of American culture on Jewish life.

— Robert Pack
Distinguished Senior Professor
University of Montana

Rubin’s argument is that America’s open immigration, religious toleration, and lack of official discrimination—as exemplified by the First Amendment and our first president, George Washington—fostered a Jewish-American culture that allowed Jews to be full American citizens yet faithful to an authentic and sustainable Jewish culture. Passionate but thoughtful and fair, ‘Jewish in America’ is an important book that is sure to offend some, yet will move the many readers who struggle with these issues to tears of joy.
—David G. Smith
Richter Professor of Political Science (emeritus)
Swarthmore College

…absolutely first class!…You’ve captured facts and ideas that should be important not only to a Jewish reader but to anybody interested in the American story.
—Daniel R. Martin
Adjunct Associate Professor
Pace University

At once personal and analytical, this evocative volume offers a fresh reading of the American Jewish experience. Combining a historical and social science imagination, it probes questions of identity, human values, and assimilation as it seeks to renew the tradition’s best features under challenging domestic and global conditions.
—Ira Katznelson
Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History
Columbia University

…There is much to learn in ‘Jewish In America’ about acceptance, assimilation, the growth of anti-Semitism, its precipitous fall, and its current re-emergence. Richard Rubin charms his readers with a personal yet scholarly approach as the chronicle unfolds, raising significant issues to wrestle with, ponder, and enjoy.
—Fred Claar
Co-Author of Values And Ethics – Through a Jewish Lens

This well-researched, thoroughly-referenced book is most helpful to me personally as I am an Ecumenical Grandfather … it serves as an outstanding resource when I teach in our B’nai Sholom Religious School and in my ongoing preparation for my own upcoming Bar Mitzvah Anniversary. A copy should be given to all of our children … The humility of this Distinguished Emeritus Professor/Author shines through via his successful, multi-racial, multi-cultural Mentoring
—Josh Grossman
Colonel (r) U.S. Army Medical Corps, M.D., FACP