Judah L. Magnes: An American Jewish Nonconformist

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Syracuse University Press, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 472 pages
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"Now, at last, Daniel Kotzin Presents us with a comprehensive biography of Magnes, the fruits of many years of dedicated research...He shows how Magnes sought to realize his American values through his work in Jerusalem, and how he championed democracy, humanistic values, and Jewish-Arab binationalism. To read this biography is to see Magnes in a new light: as a man ahead of his time whose life and ideals can still unspire Jews in our time."---Jonathan D. Sarna, author of American Judaism: A History

"Magnes's brilliance, provocative personality, and controversial views---he even reconstructed Zionism into a universalism which championed `the eternal right of every minority'---have daunted lesser scholars. Daniel Kotzin's deeply researched, erudite, and eloquent biography brings Magnes, the maverick, to life."---Pamela S. Nadell, author of Women Who Would Be Rabbis

Detail of photograph of Magnes with two Arab men and a Jewish man, ca, 1940. Place and photographer unknown, Courtesy of the Judah L. Magnes Museum.

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A Jewish Boy in California
The Making of an American Jewish Dissenter

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About the author (2010)

Judah L. Magnes (1877-1948) was an American Reform rabbi, Jewish community leader, and active pacifist during World War I. In the 1920s, he moved to British Mandatory Palestine, where he helped found and served as first chancellor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Later, in the 1930s and 1940s, he emerged as the leading advocate for the binational plan for Palestine. In these varied roles, he participated in the major transformations of American Jewish life and the Zionist movement during the half of the twentieth century.

Kotzin tells the story of how Magnes, immersed in American Jewish life, Zionism, and Jewish life in Mandatory Palestine, rebelled against the dominant strains of all three. His tireless efforts ensured that Jewish public life was vibrant and diverse, and not controlled by any one faction within Jewry. Magnes brought American ideals to Palestine, and his unique conception of Zionism shaped Jewish public life there, influencing both the development of the Hebrew University and Zionist policy toward Arabs.
Daniel P. Kotzin is assistant professor in the Social Science Department at Medaille College in Buffalo, New York. His articles have appeared in numerous journals, including peace and Change: A Journal of Peace Research.

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