1960s: Leftist Professionals—Jews, Class, and History Series

October 8, 2020

In the 1960s, Americans experienced deindustrialization, declining union strength, and a rapid growth in the service sector. How did the economic transformations and public policies of the 1960s and 1970s influence progressive activism and American Jewish politics? How did class inform American Jews’ progressive activism, and does it continue to do so today?

HERE IS A STORY you might find familiar:

The early 20th century was a golden age of Jewish working-class radical activism. But after World War II, upward-mobility, suburbanization, and assimilation into whiteness caused many Jews to lose their moorings and embrace increasingly conservative ideas. The new organized “Jewish Establishment” exponentially grew its wealth and influence and began to undemocratically shape Jewish communal life.

How much of this narrative is true? And what does it mean for communities struggling for justice today?

These and other pressing questions will be discussed by our participants, who range from historians of American Jews, to scholars of labor, gender, wealth, and philanthropy, to journalists, politicians, teachers, and political organizers. Join us for this intellectual and historical event.

Hosted with support from the Goldstein-Goren Center for American Jewish History.

Carlyn Cowen (they/she/siya) is an advocate, activist, and Filipinx-American. They work at the Chinese-American Planning Council, organize with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) and the Jewish Vote, and do mutual aid work in their neighborhood of West Harlem.

Marc Dollinger holds the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility at San Francisco State University. He is author, most recently, of Black Power, Jewish Politics: Reinventing The Alliance In the 1960s.

Gabriel Winant is assistant professor of history at the University of Chicago. His book The Next Shift: The Fall of Industry and the Rise of Health Care in Rust Belt America is forthcoming from Harvard University Press in March 2021. He tweets @gabrielwinant.

Moderated by Rachel Cohen, a journalist based in D.C. where she covers labor, politics, schools, among many other topics. She has reported for outlets including The Washington Post and The Atlantic and she’s a contributing writer to The Intercept and Jewish Currents. She tweets @rmc013.