A GOLDEN AGE?
If any era in the history of American Jewry could be considered a “golden age. ” it would be the twenty years following World War II. In this relatively brief era American Jews pushed the troubled memories of the recent past—the uncertainties of the Depression, the antiSemitism of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, and the horrors of the Nazi era—to the margins of their concerns. Instead of feeling anxious about their status, they crafted a series of new communal practices that reflected the dominant themes of the postwar age: prosperity and affluence, suburbanization and acceptance, the triumph of political and cultural liberalism, and the expansiveness of unlimited possibilities.
This is not to say that because of this optimism they had become complacent or that this period offered no challenges to their place in American life. Rather, American Jews had ample reason to feel optimistic as they continued to negotiate between their minority status and the unfolding of new opportunities. In this era, the positive forces, as they saw them, outweighed the negative. The cold war certainly hung over them as they confronted challenges to their patriotism, and they could not ignore the loud chorus of vehement accusations that Jews did not subscribe to true American ideals. Yet in the face of these trials, or perhaps in spite of them, they joined forces with other Americans of goodwill who worked to change the status quo both for themselves and for America's larger minority population, the African Americans. To counter anti-Communist and anti-Semitic rhetoric, Jews, in their associations and organizations, emphasized that they supported America's