American Jewry, 1945-1980

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From its earliest days, southern California was a sanctuary for escapists of all varieties. Jews, too, often relished their new freedom from the communal pressures of Eastern and Midwestern cities. By the 1980s, less than half of them belonged to congregations, a propor­tion much lower than the national average. The intermarriage rate in southern California was estimated at 40 percent. Yet organized Jewish life in the area was by no means skeletal. Over 100 syna­gogues functioned in Greater Los Angeles. Shortly after the war, also, the Hebrew Union College and Jewish Theological Seminary estab­lished branches there. In the neighboring Santa Susanna Valley, a large Jewish retreat for young adults, the Brandeis Camp Institute, offered a mixture of Israeli music and Jewish pop culture. A Jewish Federation‑Community Council grew respectably over the years, administering a wide variety of communal services through profession­ally staffed neighborhood branches.

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Howard Sachar

Howard M. Sachar is the author of numerous books, including A History of Israel, A History of the Jews in America, Farewell Espana, Israel and Europe, and A History of Jews in the Modern World. He is also the editor of the 39-volume The Rise of Israel: A Documentary History. He serves as Professor of Modern History at George Washington University.