cover image The Jews in America: A Picture Album

The Jews in America: A Picture Album

Milton Meltzer. Jewish Publication Society of America, $10 (169pp) ISBN 978-0-8276-0246-5

Meltzer (World of Our Fathers: The Jews of Eastern Europe; Remember the Days, from which this book is recycled; and more than 60 other books) compresses over 300 years of Jewish history into 169 pages, resulting in some generalities and simplistic conclusions. Conservative Judaism, the major movement in American Judaism, is described briefly as ""moderately Orthodox and moderately Reformed.'' While the volume is called a picture album, the narrative clearly dominates over the black-and-white photossome interesting, many standard. And for a treatment of American Jewry, there's quite a bit here about the oppressive history of Jews in Europe. Eyewitness accounts of such atrocities as a pogrom in Russia or the infamous 1911 Triangle shirtwaist factory fire in New York are heartfelt, but Meltzer dwells on the negative, ignoring much of what Jews have contributed to, and gained from, America. (10-up)