Reading Guides: Jewish-American Heritage

Asian American Fiction

Suggested Titles

Non-Fiction

Gurock, Jeffrey S. / Orthodox Jews in America --- BM205.G885 2009
Jeffrey S. Gurock recounts the history of Orthodox Jews in America, from the time of the early arrivals in the 17th century to the present, and examines how Orthodox Jewish men and women coped with the personal, familial, and communal challenges of religious freedom, economic opportunity, and social integration
Raphael, Marc Lee / The Synagogue in America: A Short History --- BM205.R372 2011
Chronicles the history of the Jewish synagogue in America over the course of three centuries, discussing its changing role in the American Jewish community.
Diner, Hasia R. / We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, 1945-1962 --- D804.3.D58 2009
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. 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.
Walker, Rebecca / Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self --- E184.A1W214 2001
When Mel Leventhal married Alice Walker during the civil rights movement in the 1960s, his mother declared him dead and sat shiva for him. By the time her parents divorced, when Rebecca was eight, the excitement of the milieu that had brought her parents together and produced a "Movement baby" had died down and the foundation that gave her life meaning dropped out from under her.
Growing Up Jewish in America: An Oral History [compiled by] Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer --- E184 .J5 G764 1995 
These childhood memories of one hundred men and women, ranging in age from twenty-two to ninety-nine, create a vivid portrait of American Jewish life in the twentieth century.
Levinger, Lee J. (Lee Joseph) / A History of the Jews in the United States. --- E184 .J5 L43
A textbook covering Jewish history in the U.S.
Svonkin, Stuart / Jews Against Prejudice: American Jews and the Fight for Civil Liberties --- E184.J5 S896 1997
America's dark history of anti-Semitism, racism, and ethnic bigotry -- and many of the efforts to combat such prejudice -- has received growing attention in recent years. Yet one of the most important stories in America's struggle to overcome ethnic and religious hatred has gone largely untold. From the Depression to the late 1960s Jewish organizations -- working as the leaders in a broadly based social and political movement -- waged a determined campaign to eliminate all forms of discrimination and prejudice from American society.
Nadell, Pamela, editor / American Jewish Women's History: A Reader --- E184.36.W64A53 2003
An anthology covering colonial times to the present. It shows women shaping Judaism and their American Jewish communities as they engaged in volunteer activities and political crusades, battled stereotypes, and constructed relationships with their Christian neighbors. It ranges from Rebecca Gratz’s development of the Jewish Sunday School in Philadelphia in 1838 to protest the rising prices of kosher meat at the turn of the century, to the shaping of southern Jewish women's cultural identity through food.
Baigell, Matthew / Social Concern and Left Politics in Jewish American Art 1880-1940--- N6538.J4B358 2015
Baigell explores the meaningful yet little-examined connections between religious heritage, social concerns, and political radicalism in the Jewish American art world from the time of the Great Migration from Eastern Europe in the 1880s to the beginning of World War II.
Roiphe, Anne Richardson / 1185 Park Avenue: A Memoir --- PS3568.O53Z463 1999
In this memoir, novelist Anne Roiphe shows us what it was really like to grow up rich and Jewish in New York in the 1940s and 1950s. Revisiting the world of her childhood, Roiphe brings alive a cast of characters who are both difficult to love and impossible to forget.
Sigal, Clancy / A Woman of Uncertain Character: The Amorous and Radical Adventures of My Mother Jennie (Who Always Wanted to Be a Respectable Jewish Mom) by Her Bastard Son --- PS3569.I4116Z46 2006
This memoir is about Clancy Sigal's boyhood in Depression-era Chicago, then James Farrell and Nelson Algren territory. The author recounts his intense relationship with his mother Jennie, a sometime firebrand union organizer, and his roaring Oedipal rivalry with his mostly absent father Leo.

Fiction

Singer, Isaac Bashevis / Enemies: A Love Story --- PJ5129 .S515 S6 1972
Almost before he knows it, Herman Broder, refugee and survivor of World War II, has three wives: Yadwiga, the Polish peasant who hid him from the Nazis; Masha , his beautiful and neurotic true love; and Tamara, his first wife, miraculously returned from the dead. Astonished by each new complication, and yet resigned to a life of evasion, Herman navigates a crowded, Yiddish New York with a sense of perpetually impending doom.
Bellow, Saul / The Adventures of Augie March: A Novel --- PS3503 .E4488 A3 1953
With a rare blend of naive and sophisticated candor the hero, Augie March, described as a "runner after good things, servant of love, embarker on schemes, recruit of sublime ideas and good-time Charlie" takes the reader with him on his "campaign after a worthwhile fate." A picaresque twentieth-century adventure tale with an amazingly real assortment of characters, a vast number of episodes ranging in location from Chicago to Mexico, to shipwreck at sea, and finally to Europe, and an original, deceptively simple style of writing.
Chabon, Michael / The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay: A Novel --- PS3553.H15A82 2000
It is New York City in 1939. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just pulled off his greatest feat to date: smuggling himself out of Nazi-occupied Prague. He is looking to make big money, fast, so that he can bring his family to freedom. His cousin, Brooklyn's own Sammy Clay, is looking for a collaborator to create the heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit the American dreamscape: the comic book. Out of their fantasies, fears, and dreams, Joe and Sammy weave the legend of that unforgettable champion the Escapist.
Diamant, Anita / The Boston Girl: A Novel --- PS3554.I227B68 2014
A story "about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century. Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie's intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can't imagine--a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women.
Englander, Nathan / What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank: Stories --- PS3555.N424W47 2012
The title story, inspired by Carver's masterpiece, is a comic classic, a provocative portrait of two marriages in which the Holocaust is played out as a devastating parlor game. "Camp Sundown" is an outlandishly dark story of vigilante justice undertaken by a troop of geriatric campers in a bucolic summer enclave who recognize a fellow vacationer as a former Nazi guard. "Free Fruit for Young Widows" is a small, sharp study in evil. "Sister Hills" chronicles the history of the Israeli settlements from the eve of the Yom Kippur war through the present, a political story constructed around the tale of two mothers who strike a terrible bargain to save a child.
Hoffman, Alice / The Museum of Extraordinary Things: A Novel --- PS3558.O3447M87 2014
Coney Island, 1911: Coralie Sardie is the daughter of a self-proclaimed scientist and professor who acts as the impresario of The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a boardwalk freak show offering amazement and entertainment to the masses. An extraordinary swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl,and a 100 year old turtle, in her father's "museum"
Neugeboren, Jay / 1940: A Novel --- PS3564.E844A19 2008
On the eve of World War II, Elisabeth Rofman returns to New York to discover her father has disappeared. She befriends Dr. Bloch—a fascinating historical figure, physician to the Hitler family when Hitler was young, and the only Jew for whom Hitler arranged departure from Europe. Dr. Bloch aids in the search, also hiding Elisabeth’s son, who has escaped from a Maryland institution.
Potok, Chaim / The Chosen: A Novel --- PS3566.O69C54 2003
In 1940s Brooklyn, New York, an accident throws Reuven Malther and Danny Saunders together. Despite their differences (Reuven is a Modern Orthodox Jew with an intellectual, Zionist father; Danny is the brilliant son and rightful heir to a Hasidic rebbe), the young men form a deep, if unlikely, friendship. Together they negotiate adolescence, family conflicts, the crisis of faith engendered when Holocaust stories begin to emerge in the U.S., loss, love, and the journey to adulthood.
Powers, Richard / The Time of Our Singing ---- PS3566.O92T55 2003
On Easter Day, 1939, at Marian Anderson's epochal concert on the Washington Mall, David Strom, a German Jewish emigre scientist, meets Delia Daley, a young Philadelphia Negro studying to be a concert singer. Their mutual love of music draws them together, and - against all odds, advice, and better judgment - they marry. They vow to raise their offspring beyond time, beyond race, beyond belonging, steeped in song. But their three children, the unwitting subjects of this experiment, must survive America's brutal here and now
Foer, Jonathan Safran / Everything is Illuminated --- PS3606.O38E84 2002
With only a yellowing photograph in hand, a young man - also named Jonathan Safran Foer - sets out to find the woman who might or might not have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Accompanied by an old man haunted by memories of the war, an amorous dog named Sammy Davis, Junior, Junior, and the unforgettable Alex, a young Ukrainian translator who speaks in a sublimely butchered English, Jonathan is led on a quixotic journey over a devastated landscape and into an unexpected past.
Horn, Dara / All Other Nights: A Novel --- PS3608.O76A45 2009
Jacob Rappaport, a Jewish soldier in the Union army during the Civil War is ordered to murder his own uncle in New Orleans, who is plotting to assassinate President Lincoln. After this harrowing mission, Jacob is recruited to pursue another enemy agent, the daughter of a Virginia family friend. But this time, his assignment isn't to murder the spy, but to marry her
Miller, Risa / My Before and After Life --- PS3613.I5524M9 2010
Honey and Susan, two sisters in Boston, are shocked to learn that their elderly father has embraced Orthodox Judaism while on vacation in the Holy Land.
Ullman, Ellen / By Blood--- PS3621.L45B9 2012
A psychiatrist helps his patient search for her roots in World War II Germany.
Chapman, Fern Schumer / Is It Night or Day? --- PZ7.C3667Is 2010
In 1938, Edith Westerfeld, a young German Jew, is sent by her parents to Chicago, Illinois, where she lives with an aunt and uncle and tries to assimilate into American culture, while worrying about her parents and mourning the loss of everything she has ever known. Based on the author's mother's experience, includes an afterword about a little-known program that brought twelve hundred Jewish children to safety during World War II.

Film

Glickman --- MEDIA GV1061.15.G55 2014
Before Marv Albert, Bob Costas, and Mike Breen, there was Marty Glickman. The documentary chronicles the life and career of Glickman, a Jewish-American athlete turned broadcaster who pioneered many of the techniques, phrases, and programming innovations that are commonplace in sports reporting today. A multi-sport athlete with blistering speed, he was a teammate of Jesse Owens on the 1936 U.S. Olympic track team.
Brighton Beach Memoirs --- MEDIA PN1997.B745 2003
Fifteen-year-old Eugene Jerome is trying to uncover life's mysteries in this adaptation of a Broadway hit about growing up in Brooklyn during the late 1930's.
Gentleman's Agreement --- MEDIA PN1997.G468 2002
A journalist assigned to write a series of articles on anti-Semitism decides to pose as a Jew and finds out first-hand what it is like to be the victim of intolerance.
The Jazz Singer --- MEDIA PN1997.J39 2007
A Jewish cantor's son breaks with his family to become a popular music singer.
Lost in Yonkers ---- MEDIA PN1997.L678 2002
Set during World War II, this is the story of two brothers sent to live with their domineering grandmother after their mother's death. Also living with her is their Aunt Bella, a somewhat backward 36 year-old who escapes to the movies whenever she can. But when Uncle Louie, a small-time gangster, arrives, everyone gets a surprising second chance at happiness.
A Serious Man --- MEDIA PN1997.2.S474 2010
One ordinary man's quest to become a serious man. Physics professor Larry Gopnik (Stuhlbarg) can't believe his life. His wife is leaving him for his best friend, his unemployed brother won't move off the couch, someone is threatening his career, his kids are a mystery and his neighbor is tormenting him by sunbathing nude. Struggling to make sense of it all, Larry consults three different rabbis and their answers lead him on a twisted journey of faith, family, delinquent behavior, and mortality.

Last Updated: May 2016

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