Rachel Gordan at Harvard Book Store


Postwar Stories:
How Books Made Judaism American

in conversation with DR. JUDITH ROSENBAUM


April 17, 2024
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes RACHEL GORDAN—Samuel "Bud" Shorstein fellow in American Jewish Culture at the University of Florida and Harvard University alumnus—for a discussion of her new book Postwar Stories: How Books Made Judaism American. She will be joined in conversation by DR. JUDITH ROSENBAUM—CEO of the Jewish Women's Archive.

About Postwar Stories

The period immediately following World War II was an era of dramatic transformation for Jews in America. At the start of the 1940s, President Roosevelt had to all but promise that if Americans entered the war, it would not be to save the Jews. By the end of the decade, antisemitism was in decline and Jews were moving toward general acceptance in American society.

Drawing on several archives, magazine articles, and nearly-forgotten bestsellers, Postwar Stories examines how Jewish middlebrow literature helped to shape post-Holocaust American Jewish identity. For both Jews and non-Jews accustomed to antisemitic tropes and images, positive depictions of Jews had a normalizing effect. Maybe Jews were just like other Americans, after all.

At the same time, anti-antisemitism novels and “Introduction to Judaism” literature helped to popularize the idea of Judaism as an American religion. In the process, these two genres contributed to a new form of Judaism--one that fit within the emerging myth of America as a Judeo-Christian nation, and yet displayed new confidence in revealing Judaism's divergences from Christianity.

Masking Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Judith Rosenbaum, PhD
Judith Rosenbaum, PhD

Judith Rosenbaum, PhD

Judith Rosenbaum is CEO of the Jewish Women’s Archive, a pioneering digital public history project that documents Jewish women’s stories, elevates their voices, and inspires them to be agents of change. Judith earned a PhD in American Studies from Brown University. An educator, historian, and writer, she teaches, lectures, and publishes widely on Jewish studies and women’s studies. 

Rachel Gordan
Rachel Gordan

Rachel Gordan

Rachel Gordan is the Samuel "Bud" Shorstein fellow in American Jewish Culture at the University of Florida, where she teaches in the department of religion and the Center for Jewish Studies. She received her doctorate at Harvard and her BA at Yale. Rachel grew up in the Boston area.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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