Dr. Eric L. Goldstein, Associate Professor in the History Department and Tam Institute for Jewish Studies, was recently quoted in a CNN article “What does it mean to be Jewish in the US?” Drawing on his 2006 book The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race, and American Identity (Princeton UP), Goldstein offers extensive context on the histories of migration, assimilation, and racial identity among Jews in the U.S. The author of the article, Harmeet Kaur, connects those histories to the present, including the rising tide of public expressions of antisemitism globally. Read an excerpt from the article below, along with the full piece here: “What does it mean to be Jewish in the US?“
Despite greater acceptance, Goldstein said Jews in the US didn’t just “become White.” Jewish inclusion into the White mainstream was conditional – accessing the benefits that come with being part of the dominant population often came at the expense of maintaining a distinct ethnic identity. And though society was beginning to see them as White, Jews didn’t necessarily see themselves as that way given their long history of marginalization. So, as they achieved a more secure position in American society, some asserted their differences.
“There was a clash between experiencing this exceptional level of integration and then thinking of yourself as part of an oppressed minority group,” Goldstein added. “There’s always been that contradiction in Jewish identity.”