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Portrait of American Jews
The Last Half of the 20th Century

Samuel C. Heilman
(Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press) 394 pp.
Paperback edition February 1993
finalist for National Jewish Book Award, 1992


Has America bee n a place that has preserved and protected Jewish life? Is it a place in which a Jewish
future is ensured? Samuel Heilman, long-time observer of American Jewish life, grapples with these
questions from a sociologist’s perspective, He argues that the same conditions that have allowed Jews to
live in relative security since the 1950s have also presented them with a greater challenge than did the
adversity and upheaval of earlier years.

This book is part of a stocktaking that has been occurring among Jews as the century in which their
residence in America was firmly established comes to an end. Grounded in empirical detail, it provides a
concise yet analytic evaluation of the meaning of the many studies and surveys of the last four and a half
decades. Taking a long view of American Jewry, it is one of very few books that built on specific
sociological data but get beyond its detail. All those who want to know what it means and has meant to be
an American Jew will find this volume of interest.

University of Washington Press

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