A Rosenberg by Any Other Name? Jewish Name-Changing and American Jewish History with Kirsten Fermaglich and Geraldine Gudefin

What’s in a name? For many American Jews who changed their names in the twentieth century so they would sound “less Jewish,” clearly a lot. In this episode, guest host Geraldine Gudefin welcomes Kirsten Fermaglich to speak about her book A Rosenberg by Any Other Name: A History of Jewish Name Changing in America and the big issues it brings up.

Continue reading

What Happens to Jewish Culture Without Jews with Alanna Cooper and Hillel Smith

What happens to our stuff when we’re gone? Hillel Smith and Alanna Cooper join the podcast to talk about their projects that consider what happens to Jewish communities and their stuff, both buildings and objects, especially when we look at communities and synagogues that shrink, disappear, merge together, or move from one place to another.

Continue reading

American Judaism with Jonathan Sarna

Jonathan Sarna discusses American Judaism: A History, which recently was published in a second, revised edition. Listen in for a wide ranging conversation about American Jewish history in big terms, about Jonathan’s work at large and the book American Judaism in particular. As we discuss in the episode, American Judaism is one of a series of books which have been published in recent years that has tried to synthesize American Jewish history, so we will look closely at how the landscape of American Jewish historical studies has developed, how we tell the history of America’s Jews, and why it matters.

Continue reading

Contemporary Yiddish Culture (and Podcasts!) with Sandra Fox

In this episode, we’re joined by Sandra Fox to talk about contemporary Yiddish culture and her Yiddish-language feminist podcast, Vaybertaytsh. The podcast recently came back for a new season, and so we’re going to be talking about the origin of the podcast as part of the development of contemporary Yiddish culture and its history.

Continue reading

Could It Happen Here? Fascism and Nazism in America with Steve Ross

Could fascists really have taken power in the US during the 1930s? It’s not just the stuff of fiction, as in “The Man in the High Castle” and The Plot Against America. In Steve Ross’ book Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America, we learn about the thrilling (and terrifying) history of how Nazis and fascists tried to establish a foothold on the west coast and the efforts of a handful of spies to try to take them down. In this episode, Steve Ross joins us to talk about his book and the history of fascist and pro-Nazi groups in LA, the real threat that fascism posed in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s, and what it teaches us, unfortunately, about our present moment.

Continue reading

American Jews and the Israeli Settler Movement with Sara Yael Hirschhorn

Sara Yael Hirschhorn joins us to discuss her book City on a Hilltop: American Jews and the Israeli Settler Movement, and the big questions that it raises for how we understand Israel, American Jewry, and those American Jews who have moved to Israel and participated in the settler movement beyond the Green Line in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Sinai Peninsula: Why so many Israeli Jewish settlers are of American origin, how we can understand them as real people and not caricatures, and how looking closely at this group can help unsettle assumptions or preconceived notions about the nature of the settlements in the occupied territories.

Continue reading

Moving Beyond “Chrismukkah” with Samira Mehta

Samira Mehta joins us to discuss her book Beyond Chrismukkah: The Christian-Jewish Interfaith Family in the United States and the meaning and complexities of interfaith marriage: Why it matters beyond the question of continuity, how it relates to broader social and religious trends, and how thinking through interfaith marriage can help us to understand our world at large.

Continue reading