Three Hundred Years of Jewish Life in America
by Oscar Handlin. The McGraw-Hill Book Company. 282 pp. $3.75.
In this book, Dr. Handlin considers the three centuries of Jewish life in America as “an adventure in freedom.” Seeking to provide an interpretation rather than a complete history of the Jews in the United States, he remarks that when the Jews came to America they moved into a society unlike any that they had previously met. They came together from all parts of Europe, where they had lived—often in isolation from one another—in established, sharply-regulated communities; in America these separate groups came together, no longer forced to live apart from the broader community, under circumstances which permitted almost any degree of dispersion and which tended to break down the rigid caste lines which previously had operated both within and without the Jewish community. The Jews, in short, experienced democracy—to the enrichment both of Jewish life and of the life of the nation as a whole.