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This volume presents a sociological overview of the American Jewish community in the 1980's.
Cultural boundaries and group identity are often forged in relation to the Other. In every society, conceptions of otherness, which often reflect a group's fears and vulnerabilities, result in deep-rooted traditions of inclusion and exclusion that permeate the culture's literature, religion, and politics. This volume explores the ways in which Jews have traditionally defined other groups and, in turn, themselves. The contributors, a distinguished international group of scholars, explore the discursive processss through which Jewish identity and culture have been constructed, disseminated, and perpetuated. Among the topics addressed are: Others in the biblical world; the construction of gender in Roman-period Judaism; the Other as woman in the Greco-Roman world; the gentile as Other in rabbinic law; the feminine as Other in kabbalah; the reproduction of the Other in the Passover Haggadah; the Palestinian Arab as Other in Israeli politics and literature; the Other in Levinas and Derrida; Blacks as Other in American Jewish literature; the Jewish body image as symbol of Otherness; and women as Other in Israeli cinema. Contributors to this interdisciplinary volume are: Jonathan Boyarin (New School for Social Research), Robert L. Cohn (Lafayette College), Gerald Cromer (Bar-Ilan University), Trude Dothan (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Elizabeth Fifer (Lehigh University), Steven D. Fraade (Yale University), Sander L. Gilman (Cornell University), Hannan Hever (Tel Aviv University), Ross S. Kraemer (University of Pennsylvania), Orly Lubin (Tel Aviv University), Peter Machinist (Harvard University), Jacob Meskin (Williams College), Adi Ophir (Tel Aviv University), Ilan Peleg (Lafayette College), Miriam Peskowitz (University of Florida), Laurence J. Silberstein (Lehigh University), Naomi Sokoloff (University of Washington), and Elliot R. Wolfson (New York University).
Rhode Island as we know it began in 1636 when Roger Williams, an independent-minded "godly minister" banished from Massachusetts for promulgating new and dangerous opinions, founded a new colony, Providence, at the head of Narragansett Bay. Although none of Williams's followers were Jews, some of his libertarian ideals would profoundly influence the future Jewish population. Around 1677 a group of Sephardim (Jews of Iberian descent) from Barbados arrived in Newport. Despite legal protection, this tiny Jewish community on Aquidneck Island did not last. Newport's Jewish community revived in the mid-eighteenth century, when trade with the West Indies brought new wealth to this British outpost. Touro synagogue, only the second built in North America, has endured as a masterpiece of colonial architecture. President George Washington's letter to the "Hebrew Congregation in Newport," written in 1790, also became a pillar of American religious liberty. For economic reasons, however, Newport's Jewish community once again dispersed. Rhode Island Jewry began to reestablish itself toward the end of the nineteenth century, when immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe settled mainly in Providence. By 1924, the state's Jewish population reached 25,000. Many Jews worked in the state's booming textile and jewelry industries, and others as peddlers and tailors. While some Jews would prosper as merchants and manufacturers, others, particularly women and children, were relegated to menial tasks. There were also Jewish farmers. Following World War II, Jews were elected to numerous statewide offices and gained prominence in an array of professional, cultural, and philanthropic organizations. Jewish students and professors thrived at many of the state's colleges and universities. In 1970, recognizing the need to work together, communal leaders established the Jewish Federation of Rhode Island. Today about 18,000 Jews live throughout the Ocean State. In many respects, however, the Jewish community retains the character of a traditional small town. Many Jews have attended the same schools, married hometown sweethearts, and have remained loyal to neighborhood synagogues and charities. A day at the beach endures as an idyllic summer vacation. This anthology celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of Rhode Island Jewish Historical Notes, the journal that has presented and preserved much of Rhode Island's Jewish past. The volume presents seventeen previously published articles or excerpts, two new essays, a timeline, and an extensive bibliography. There are nearly one hundred photographs, most published for the first time. Through the lens of The Notes, The Jews of Rhode Island provides a panoramic view of a famous yet little-known Jewish community.
Compares the experiences of Soviet/Russian Jewish immigrants to the U.S. during two different time frames.

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