We Remember with Reverence and Love by Hasia R. Diner
American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, 1945-1962

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Synopsis

It has become an accepted truth: after World War II, American Jews chose to be silent about the mass murder of millions of their European brothers and sisters at the hands of the Nazis. Whether motivated by fear, shame, or the desire to assimilate, the Jewish community in the United States simply did not memorialize the Holocaust until the Eichmann trial and the 1967 Arab-Israeli War made it socially acceptable for them to do so.

In a compelling work sure to draw fire from academics and pundits alike, Hasia R. Diner shows this assumption of silence to be categorically false. Uncovering a rich and incredibly varied trove of remembrances—in song, literature, liturgy, public display, political activism, and hundreds of other forms—We Remember with Reverence and Love shows that publicly memorializing those who died in the Holocaust arose from a deep and powerful element of Jewish life in postwar America. Not only does she marshal enough evidence to dismantle the idea of American Jewish "forgetfulness," she brings to life the moving and manifold ways that this widely diverse group paid tribute to the tragedy.

Uncovering a wonderfully rich and incredibly varied trove of remembrances—in song, literature, liturgy, public display, and hundreds of other forms—the NYU professor shows that publicly memorializing those who died in the Holocaust was a deep and powerful element of Jewish life in postwar America. Not only does she marshal enough evidence to utterly destroy the idea of American Jewish "forgetfulness," she brings to life the moving and manifold ways that this widely diverse group paid tribute to the tragedy.

Diner also offers a compelling new perspective on the 1960s and its potent legacy, by revealing how our typical understanding of the postwar years emerged from the cauldron of cultural divisions and campus battles a generation later. The student activists and "new Jews" of the 1960s who, in rebelling against the American Jewish world they had grown up in"a world of remarkable affluence and broadening cultural possibilities"created a flawed portrait of what their parents had, or rather, had not, done in the postwar years. This distorted legacy has been transformed by two generations of scholars, writers, rabbis, and Jewish community leaders into a taken-for-granted truth.

Diner has at last recovered these vital years in American Jewish history, and radically alters our understanding not only of postwar America Jewry, but of the ways that the Holocaust and the 1960s alike continue to reverberate in our lives.

 

About Hasia R. Diner

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Hasia Diner is Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History, Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. She is the author of the award-winning We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, 1945-1962 (NYU Press, 2009).
 
Published April 1, 2009 by NYU Press. 544 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Travel. Non-fiction

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The first is remembrance of the Holocaust internally generated by Jewish sources, including the erection of memorials, additions to the Jewish liturgy and calendar, textbooks, articles, plays and pageants enacting the Warsaw uprising.

Feb 01 2009 | Read Full Review of We Remember with Reverence an...

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