We Remember With Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence After the Holocaust, 1945-1962
Winner of the 2009 National Jewish Book Award in American Jewish Studies
Recipient of the 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship in Humanities-Intellectual & Cultural History
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 this compelling work, Hasia R. Diner shows the 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 Loveshows 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.
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.
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We remember with reverence and love: American Jews and the myth of silence after the Holocaust, 1945-1962User Review - Book Verdict
Diner (director, Goldstein-Goren Ctr. for American Jewish History, NYU; The Jews of the United States, 1645-2000) refutes the conventional wisdom that the American Jewish community ignored, or actively resisted, discussing the Holocaust until the 1960s. She makes a convincing case that in the post-1945 era American Jews, through their communal and religious institutions, assiduously grappled with the question of how to understand and commemorate the Holocaust, speaking of the destruction of European Jewry in Yom Kippur liturgy, history books, and public ceremonies ,and mobilizing its memory to promote causes such as civil rights and support for Israel. Despite this evidence, why do scholars, lay leaders, and the public today often reject the notion that American Jews discussed the slaughter of European Jewry? Diner postulates that in the 1960s young intellectuals who had little but contempt for their elders argued that they represented "new" ideas in Jewish life. These radicals, on the Right and Left of the political spectrum, went on to become Jewish professionals, including academics in Jewish studies, and promoted the concept that the older generation had ignored the Shoah. An important contribution to American Jewish historiography, this book is recommended for all libraries.-Frederic Krome, Univ. of Cincinnati Clermont Coll., Cincinnati