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What Are Jews For?History, Peoplehood, and Purpose$
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Adam Sutcliffe

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691188805

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691188805.001.0001

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Normalization and Its Discontents

Normalization and Its Discontents

Jews and Cultural Purpose

Chapter:
(p.201) 5 Normalization and Its Discontents
Source:
What Are Jews For?
Author(s):

Adam Sutcliffe

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691188805.003.0006

This chapter concentrates on the question of normalcy and its relationship to twentieth-century notions of Jewish distinctiveness and purpose. It describes how the idea of a special Jewish mission that initially thrived within the American Reform movement disintegrated as the urge to integrate within American society to gather strength among Jews prominently waned. It talks about Jewish exemplarity that was influentially presented in relation to specifics of the American context through the competing “melting pot” and “orchestra” metaphors of Israel Zangwill and Horace Kallen. The chapter illustrates the hope of Jewish normalization that was perceived by sharp observers, such as Karl Kraus, Theodor Lessing and Sigmund Freud in the first half of the twentieth century. It also mentions the horror of the Holocaust that cast a profound chill over the idea of Jewish instrumental purpose, but at the same time brought about a renewal of the idea on the ethical and historical lessons imparted by the Nazi genocide.

Keywords:   American Reform movement, American society, normalcy, Jewish distinctivenes, Jewish purpose, Jewish normalization, Holocaust, Nazi genocide

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