January 3-27, 2019
18th Annual CSP One Month Scholar
Prof. Marc Dollinger
A Journey through American Jewish History
Come engage in new and surprising insights into the American Jewish experience. From our beginnings in colonial America to contemporary debates over Jewish identity, we will reframe the lessons you learned growing up as we explore new perspectives in American Jewish life.
Dr. Marc Dollinger holds the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility at San Francisco State University. He is an author and an expert in the fields of Jews and American politics, American Zionism and California Jews. A past president of both the Jewish Community High School of the Bay and Brandeis Hillel Day School, Marc serves as academic vice president of Lehrhaus Judaica as well as trustee of URJ Camp Newman and the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center. He sits on the California advisory committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, was named 2008 Volunteer of the Year by the SF Jewish Community Federation, and was awarded the San Francisco JCRC’s 2015 Courageous Leader award for his work against the BDS movement. Opening Lecture: Thursday night January 3, 2019 New Interpretations of American Jewish History: What really happened and what did it mean? Join us as we explore American Jewish history through a university lens, challenging our own popular conceptions about the American Jewish experience and launching a month-long immersion in a new and different telling of our nation’s Jewish history. Closing Lecture: Sunday night January 27, 2019 Past, Present, and Future: Deploying our understanding of history to frame contemporary American life and wonder about its future Topics:
- “What do we owe Peter Stuyvesent?” 350 Years of American Jewish History. This is a single overview lecture of American Jewish history focusing on topics or themes of interest.
- Becoming American: Immigration and Jewish Acculturation. Focused more on sociology than history, this presentation offers an overview of different competing models of immigrant acculturation to the United States.
- American Zionism. We trace the history of American Zionism from 1880 to the present. They will focus on the eastern European origins of American Zionism, the dual loyalty conflicts faced by American Jews through the 1920s, the effects of Hitler’s rise and the European war, and culminate in the organized Jewish community’s responses to the establishment of the State of Israel. Students will then follow the fascinating path of American Zionism in the 1950s, 1960’s and beyond, examining the effects of the Cold War, civil rights movement, and contemporary issues.
- “Civil Rights and Social Justice” The Untold Story of American Jews in the 1960s. A journey from the consensus politics of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the conflict-centered era of Black Power and ethnic nationalism. Discover the impetus (and limits) of Jewish involvement in civil rights and then travel through the tumultuous 1960s to learn the hidden reasons for a magnificent rebirth of Jewish identity and Jewish life in America.
- Jewish Studies, Multiculturalism, and the American University. An insider’s look into the current state of American colleges and universities. We will study the history and current debates over the role of Jewish Studies in the multi-cultural universtiy and its impact on Jewish women and men in the last forty years. We will trace the history of Jews in American higher education from the turn of the century, through the lifting of restrictive quotas in the 1950s to the campus protests of the 1960s and 1970s and into the contemporary debates of the 1980s and 1990s.
- Modern Political Zionism. A survey of the Zionist movement from the late nineteenth century to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
- Affirmative Action, Quotas and the Myth of Meritocracy. This lecture will explore the organized Jewish community’s relationship to the affirmative action debate. It will examine the origins of affirmative action, the Jewish community’s initial support of these liberal programs, and conclude with a study of Jewish opposition to quotas. It is perfect for Jewish liberals, conservatives, and everyone in between.
- Jews and Whiteness. Are American Jews white? The question, answered differently by different generations of American Jews, gets at the heart of American Jewish identity. Have Jews remained separate and distinct from the rest of middle-class America or have they assimilated so much that they have become white? Come explore the contentious history and sociology of Jews and racial definition. We’ll journey back to the 1960s and discover some (surprising) insights into the debate over Jewish whiteness.
- Jews and Racial Status. This history of Jews and racial status looks at an ethnic group that has moved back and forth across the racial divide. It reflects on the current status of Jewish social justice work as well as Jewish interactions with groups such as Black Lives Matter. It’s also a preview talk for a subsequent lecture on the BDS movement.
- BDS: Another View. Following the Jews and whiteness talk, or as a stand-alone, this lecture examines the BDS movement through the lens of American Jewish history, power and privilege. It is not an advocacy-based talk. Instead, it seeks to give attendees a sense of the larger context in which Jewish college students live and interact, reflecting how their preparedness (or lack thereof) reflects recent American Jewish history.
- American Jews, Power, and Israel in the Contemporary Era. Adding up some of the most contentious and debated questions in American Jewish life today, we will explore the history and significance of an ever-changing American Jewish relationship to the State of Israel. This will be a history and sociology-based presentation intended to educate attendees about the various positions taken in these questions. If you want to get into political debate, this isn’t your presentation. If you want to understand HOW and WHY the debates formed as they did, welcome!
- Jews and Politics. American Jews vote more liberal and Democratic than any other white ethnic group in the United States. Yet, several distinct subgroups within American Jewish life embrace conservatism and the Republican party, including the overwhelming majority of Orthodox Jews. If you’re ready for a partisan political fight full of name-calling and competing claims of which politician is “better for the Jews”…. you won’t find it here! Instead, join us for an evening that will challenge, complicate, undo, and then perhaps redo whatever you thought was true about American Jews and the larger political scene. It’ll be provocative, challenging, and, if it’s a really good night, lots of fun to.
- Anti-Israelism, Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism. One of the thorniest questions in contemporary American Jewish life, the boundaries between anti-Israelism, anti-Zionism, and anti-Semitism are now the subject of university policy debates as well as proposed state and federal action. This presentation offers historical background into each category, outlining the points of debate in this highly-contentious subject.
- Reform Judaism. With its origins in the European Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, Reform Judaism re-emerged in the United States in a variety of different forms. Come explore the theology, history, and development of Reform Judaism from its origins in Europe to its prophetic-inspired political activism.
- Who is a Jew? The most basic, and complicated question in Jewish life. This far-reaching presentation will survey the textual, historical, and sociological dimensions of Jewishness. It’s a great primer for folks first learning about Jewish life (I typically give this talk to inter-faith groups) as well as a great immersion for educated Jews to explore how their Jewishness compares in definitional terms to Christianity.
- Why Are People Poor? Jews, Poverty, and American Social Reform. An exploration of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and the ways he learned Jewish approaches to poverty and community responsibility.
- Tikun Olam. A critical look at the most popular expression in American Jewish life. This talk offers the history, context, and meaning of repairing the world for contemporary American Jews.
- The Dr. Pepper Challenge. Deploying the slogan from the popular 1970s soft drink commercial, we will explore the dynamics of modern Jewish history. Let’s see if you’re “original” or just “part of the crowd.”
- Jews of San Francisco. The discovery of gold in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas inspired a massive immigration to California and an exciting new chapter in American Jewish history. Unlike cities to the east, San Francisco offered its Jewish residents unprecedented opportunity in business, education, and social life. It also created high levels of assimilation and huge Jewish communal challenges. Come explore the fascinating and complex world of Jewry in San Francisco and the Bay Area.
- Quest for Inclusion: Jews and Liberalism in Modern America, Princeton University Press. This presentation examines Jews and liberalism from the New Deal in the 1930s, decade by decade, through the civil rights movement of the 1960s. It offers new ways of understanding American Jewish liberalism and its limitations in twentieth-century America. The book talk offers an overview of the book. If you wish a multi-part series, this topic can be split into as many as seven different presentations. Book talk – projector required.
- California Jews, Brandeis University Press. “If you want to be poor all your life, “an eastern European Jewish immigrant was told, “go to New York. If you want to be rich, go to the other side,” meaning California, where economic prosperity and social acceptance promised Golden State Jews opportunities unknown in the East. For many new Jewish immigrants, California became the new promised land, even as it challenged many New York-centered assumptions about American Jewish life. Whether you are native to California, New York, or anywhere in between, come hear a provocative talk that just might undo the way you think about American Jewry. Book talk – projector required
- American Jewish History: A Primary Source Reader, Brandeis University Press. This book offers hundreds of historical documents in American Jewish history. We will select the documents of greatest interest to your group and analyze them together. As a bonus, this talk offers an audio and video “document” presentation that surveys some fun images, songs, and movie clips from American Jewish history.
- Black Power/Jewish Politics: Reinventing the Alliance of the 1960s, Brandeis University Press. My most recent book, this is a re-appraisal of Jewish involvement in the civil rights movement, showing how American Jews leveraged the Black Power movement to increase Jewish ethnic and religious identity in the late 1960s and early 1970s. With Jewish communal interest in Black Lives Matter, the Nation of Islam, and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for Jews, this presentation offers what I hope will be a new and different perspective.
- Anti-Semitism: A History. This is a single-presentation overview of anti-Semitism in the ancient, medieval, and modern periods. It offers participants a chance to compare and contrast the various forms of anti-Semitism over time and place. This is the most general of the anti-Semitism lectures. For more detailed approaches, see the other presentations listed. Book talk – projector required
Anti-Semitism From the Right and the Left: Jews and the American University, in progress. This is my current research project. Since the book isn’t yet finished, this presentation offers a chance for participants to get a real-time update on the book-writing process. I will explain the genesis of the book idea, share my current research, offer tentative conclusions, and engage the audience with the pressing questions that need resolution. Three Part Series Evening Series: Jews and Social Justice While Jews often deploy the phrase “tikun olam” to affirm an historic and religious obligation for social justice, the history of Jewish commitment to equality proves more complex. In these presentations, we will dive into the complexities and subtleties of prophetic Judaism, at least in the modern American experience.
- “Hamans and Torquemadas”: Southern and Northern Responses to the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1964. What happens when a northern rabbi marches with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., only to face southern Jews who demand he leave? We will dive into the thorny and complex questions of Jewish involvement in the civil rights movement.
- “Black Power-Jewish Politics” The Untold Story of American Jews, 1964-1980. What happens when black militants purge Jews from civil rights organizations, espouse anti-Semitism, and support the Palestinian cause? Jewish leaders across the country cheer! Surprised?? Come and find out why as we explore the legacy of Jewish involvement in the civil rights movement.
- Jews, Whiteness, Power and Privilege: Jews and Social Justice in the 21st Century. Are American Jews white? The question, answered differently by different generations of American Jews, gets at the heart of American Jewish identity. Have Jews remained separate and distinct from the rest of middle-class America or have they assimilated so much that they have become white? Come explore the contentious history and sociology of Jews and racial definition as we explore contemporary challenges (and opportunities) in Jewish social justice.
Lunch Series: American Jewish History Explore the history of American Jews from their origins in colonial Dutch New Amsterdam to contemporary society. We will explore themes such as immigration, acculturation, church/state relations, Zionism, relationship with government, and social justice
- American Jewish History, 1654-1880. This, the first in a three-part exploration of American Jewish history, explores the colonial period, the American Revolution, and the immigration of central European Jews in the mid-nineteenth century.
- American Jewish History, 1880-1945. The migration of nearly 2 million eastern European Jews to the United States changed the fabric of American Jewish life, setting the stage for contemporary American Jewish life. We will survey the first three generations of American Jews from Eastern Europe with a special focus on World War II and the Holocaust.
- American Jewish History, 1945-present. The post-war period witnessed a rapid Jewish rise up the social mobility ladder. With a decrease in anti-Semitism and increasing wealth and influence, American Jews built lives unseen throughout most of Jewish history. Come explore the opportunities and the limitations of that rapid Americanization.