Rabbis and Lawyers: The Journey from Torah to Constitution

Jerold S. Auerbach, Author Indiana University Press $12.95 (249p) ISBN 978-0-253-31085-9
American Jews' assimilation required a drastic modification of their commitment to sacred law and holy land, contends Wellesley College historian Auerbach. In his scenario, Jews transferred their allegiance from the Torah to the Constitution--from a covenantal relationship with God to a secular outlook shaped by constitutional principles promoting individual freedom. In a rewarding, challenging study, Auerbach ( Justice Without Law? ) maintains this metamorphosis was abetted by rabbis like Isaac Mayer Wise and such lawyers as Louis Brandeis and Louis Marshall who ``taught Jews how to become Americans.'' He faults Reform rabbi Stephen S. Wise for ``deferential caution'' in his failed attempt to prod FDR into rescuing Europe's Jewry from Hitler's impending bloodbath. He also takes aim at optimistic celebrants of a revitalized Judaism like Charles Silberman and Leonard Fine. Sure to be hotly debated, this book recasts the debate on Jewish acculturation in new terms. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Religion
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-253-20843-9
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