Feeling Jewish: Nostalgia and American Jewish Religion”
Lecture given by Rachel B. Gross
Assistant Professor and John and Marcia Goldman Chair in American Jewish Studies in the Department of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University
In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, American Jews have increasingly told nostalgic stories about Eastern European Jewish immigration to the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. In her book Beyond the Synagogue: Jewish Nostalgia as Religious Practice, religious studies professor Rachel B. Gross examines American Jewish longing for the past expressed through artisanal delis, picture books, historic synagogues, and Jewish genealogy. She argues that these nostalgic activities should be understood as religious practices, illuminating how many American Jews are finding and making meaning within American Judaism today. The embrace of nostalgia provides evidence of an alternative, under-appreciated way of being Jewish and of maintaining Jewish continuity.
The Rabbi Hillel Cohn Endowed Lecture on the Contemporary Jewish Experience was established at California State University, San Bernardino in 2017 in recognition of Rabbi Cohn’s many achievements as a religious and community leader. This is the first time in the history of the entire California State University system that a rabbi has been so honored.