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Sliding to the Right

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Sliding to the Right. The Contest for the Future of American Jewish Orthodox. By Samuel C. Heilman. (Berkeley, University of California Press: 2006. Pg. ix, 363.) ISBN: 0-520-24763-9.

Reviewed by Anna Dogole - July 31, 2006

The Holocaust had a significant impact on the orthodox Jewish community in the United States, as with Jews the world over. Since the end of World War II, the Orthodox Jewish community in the U.S. as a whole has taken a noticeable turn toward the right. Samuel C. Heilman chronicles this shift toward the right in his book, Sliding to the Right: The Contest for the Future of American Jewish Orthodoxy.

In this timely and compelling book, he not only looks at the causes and consequences of this shift toward the right and how rather than fading away, the American orthodox Jewish community is more vibrant and diverse than ever before. Heilman is a sociologist and a respected scholar in the field of Jewish studies. Rather than treating the orthodox community as a unified group, he ably differentiates between the various orthodox groups from Modern Orthodox to the Haredi ('ultra-orthodox) communities, and how each of these groups have changed in recent years.

By the time you finish reading this book you will have acquired a fair and general understanding of Orthodox Judaism in the United States, how it has change since the end of World War II, and you'll also have garnered keen insights on what the future may hold for American Jewry in the years to come. In addition, if you are not already familiar with Orthodox Jewish life, you will garner a general understanding of the day-to-day life of an Orthodox Jew, the culture milieu that encompasses Orthodox Jewry, why the perceived insular nature of Orthodox Jewry is a myth and why Orthodox Jewry is attracting non-affiliated and non-Orthodox Jews in ever greater numbers.

Sliding to the Right provides a general overview of Orthodox Jewry and it will serve as an introductory text to the history of the American Orthodox community. Heilman does try to cover 'all the bases' and in this regard he fails. Writing a detailed and in-depth overview of the Orthodox community in the United States would fill several volumes. He does however, succeed in presenting a clear and concise overview of the major aspects on American Jewish Orthodoxy's shift toward the right. He does this with wit, humor, and keen insights into Orthodox life and what the future holds for the Orthodox Jewry in America. Both scholars and general readers will find a wealth of intriguing information in this book, and both groups will find this book a fascinating and worthwhile read.


Related Reviews:

The Jews of the United States, 1654 to 2000, by Hasia R. Diner.
Offers a general survey of Jewish life in America, covering both historical, religious, and social milestones.

Mordecai: An Early American Family, by Emily Bingham.
In this work, Bingham provides a fascinating glimpse of Jewish life in America, from Colonial times through the Civil War.

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