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Spiritual RadicalAbraham Joshua Heschel in America, 1940-1972$
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Edward K. Kaplan

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780300115406

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300115406.001.0001

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Critique of American Judaism (1952–1954)

Critique of American Judaism (1952–1954)

(p.137) 8 Critique of American Judaism (1952–1954)
Spiritual Radical

Edward K. Kaplan

Yale University Press

This chapter describes how Judaism, as a cultural force, entered the American mainstream. It began on 20 January 1953, when, for the first time, a rabbi, the tall and eloquent Abba Hillel Silver, leader of Reform Judaism and a Zionist, offered a prayer at the presidential inauguration of Dwight David Eisenhower. At the time, Americans were becoming increasingly shaken by the Cold War and the pervasive suspicion it generated. An atmosphere of intimidation was fueled by the ongoing anti-Communist hearings being held by Joseph McCarthy's Senate Committee on Governmental Operations and the House Committee on Un-American Activities. The nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union created further anxiety. All the while, Heschel concentrated on problems of spiritual authenticity. He deplored the prevailing American trend of interpreting religion in terms of social science.

Keywords:   cultural force, Judaism, American mainstream, Abba Hillel Silver, presidential inauguration, Dwight David Eisenhower

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