Exploring American Jewish History Through 50 Historic Treasures

Rowman & Littlefield. (AASLH Exploring America’s Historic Treasures). Mar. 2024. 312p. ISBN 9781538115619. $36. HIST
Decter’s (Interpreting American Jewish History at Museums and Historic Sites) latest assembles 50 objects—some iconic, some ordinary—to represent the Jewish experience in the United States. The book is divided into six chronological parts, beginning with Jewish life in the United States before the 1820s and continuing through the present. Among the objects pictured in the book (all in full color) are postcards, a ketubah (a Jewish marriage contract), a letter from George Washington, photographs of synagogues’ interiors and exteriors, a cookbook, a peddler’s wagon, the Maxwell House Passover Haggadah, and the linotype used at the Jewish Daily Forward, a Yiddish-language socialist newspaper founded in 1897. Although these objects come from all parts of the country, there is some emphasis on the New York and Baltimore areas. Decter writes that it was difficult to select only 50 objects, but readers will find that they all appropriately reflect the lives of Jewish Americans as well as the history of the United States.
VERDICT An intriguing, illustrated volume that showcases the link between Jewish artifacts and U.S. history.
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