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Who is a Jew in 21st century America? Is
membership in “the tribe” defined by shared religious beliefs? Common
ethnic backgrounds? Familiar holiday practices? Similar tastes in
culture and cuisine? And what do the widely varying answers to those
questions mean for the future of the American Jewish community?

2013, at the suggestion of Jewish Daily Forward editor Jane Eisner, the
Pew Research Center completed the most comprehensive and credible
survey ever conducted among American Jews. Its findings were nothing
short of astounding to communal leaders, demographers and individual
Jews alike.

In this new e-book, the venerable Forward – the
premier source of news, analysis and cultural coverage that matters to
the American Jewish community – explains and analyzes the Pew report,
with contributions from its own journalists and a diverse selection of other experts.

sobering and sometimes even amusing, this accessible collection of
articles and essays will inform and enlarge the critical conversation
among American Jews about their communal future.

Includes a
helpful discussion guide
for educators, community and book groups, and
leaders of Jewish organizations.
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About the author

The Jewish Daily Forward ( is the premier source of news, analysis and cultural coverage that matters to the American Jewish community, providing outstanding independent journalism, every day. To receive our free, daily e-newsletters, visit 

Elka Abrahamson is president of the Wexner Foundation.

Sarah Bunin Benor is an associate professor of contemporary Jewish studies at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion.

Steven M. Cohen is a research professor of Jewish social policy at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion.

Sergio DellaPergola is a professor emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Jane Eisner is the editor-in-chief of the Jewish Daily Forward.

Dan Friedman is the managing editor of the Jewish Daily Forward.

J.J. Goldberg, Editor-at-Large for the Forward, is the author of "Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment." His essays and articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Newsday, The Daily Beast, Columbia Journalism Review and elsewhere.

Bethamie Horowitz is a research professor at New York University. She directed the 1991 New York Jewish Population Study.

Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Jewish Daily Forward.

Carla Naumburg is a writer, clinical social worker and mother. She is a contributing editor for, and is writing a book on mindful parenting.

Leonard Saxe is Klutznick Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at Brandeis University and the director of the Steinhardt Social Research Institute.

Martyna Starosta is the digital media producer for the Forward.

Alan Wolfe is a professor of political science and director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College.

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1 total

Additional Information

The Forward Association, Inc.
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Published on
Oct 14, 2013
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History / Jewish
Social Science / Demography
Social Science / Jewish Studies
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The Ephrussis were a grand banking family, as rich and respected as the Rothschilds, who "burned like a comet" in nineteenth-century Paris and Vienna society. Yet by the end of World War II, almost the only thing remaining of their vast empire was a collection of 264 wood and ivory carvings, none of them larger than a matchbox.

The renowned ceramicist Edmund de Waal became the fifth generation to inherit this small and exquisite collection of netsuke. Entranced by their beauty and mystery, he determined to trace the story of his family through the story of the collection.

The netsuke—drunken monks, almost-ripe plums, snarling tigers—were gathered by Charles Ephrussi at the height of the Parisian rage for all things Japanese. Charles had shunned the place set aside for him in the family business to make a study of art, and of beautiful living. An early supporter of the Impressionists, he appears, oddly formal in a top hat, in Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party. Marcel Proust studied Charles closely enough to use him as a model for the aesthete and lover Swann in Remembrance of Things Past.

Charles gave the carvings as a wedding gift to his cousin Viktor in Vienna; his children were allowed to play with one netsuke each while they watched their mother, the Baroness Emmy, dress for ball after ball. Her older daughter grew up to disdain fashionable society. Longing to write, she struck up a correspondence with Rilke, who encouraged her in her poetry.

The Anschluss changed their world beyond recognition. Ephrussi and his cosmopolitan family were imprisoned or scattered, and Hitler's theorist on the "Jewish question" appropriated their magnificent palace on the Ringstrasse. A library of priceless books and a collection of Old Master paintings were confiscated by the Nazis. But the netsuke were smuggled away by a loyal maid, Anna, and hidden in her straw mattress. Years after the war, she would find a way to return them to the family she'd served even in their exile.

In The Hare with Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal unfolds the story of a remarkable family and a tumultuous century. Sweeping yet intimate, it is a highly original meditation on art, history, and family, as elegant and precise as the netsuke themselves.

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