Why Study American Jewish History?

Publication Date: January 2004

Publisher: Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education

Author(s): Jonathan D. Sarna

Research Area: Culture and religion; Education

Keywords: History; Jewish Youth; Education

Type: Brief

Coverage: United States


The author presents and critiques various suggested historical and contemporary reasons for teaching Jewish history to young Jews, an area of the curriculum that has fallen relatively out of favor over the last couple of decades. He questions the idea that history should be taught for the sake of creating memory, since it might lead to intellectual dishonesty and lack of integrity, especially with regards to teaching history that reflects badly on Jews as individuals or as a group. Rather, he proposes teaching history with an emphasis on the theme of human potential: the ability of American Jews - young and old, men and women alike - to change the course of history and transform a piece of the world.