An often wise and always wisecracking popular review of American Jewish history. This highly subjective and discursive...


LOUIS BRANDEIS SLEPT HERE: A Slightly Cynical History of American Jews

An often wise and always wisecracking popular review of American Jewish history. This highly subjective and discursive history is everywhere personal and opinionated. Gleicher--an observant Jew, Chicago lawyer, and son of Holocaust survivors--sees Reform Judaism as a doomed, assimilationist aberration; gives lawyers from Brandeis to Dershowitz extra attention; vilifies past American Jewish leaders for not doing enough during the Holocaust; and credits Holocaust survivors with rescuing traditional Judaism. The outline of American Jewish history is thorough if terse, and often straightforward and serious. But Gleicher can't resist gags, even adding humorous footnotes to some passages. One such note ""exposes"" Marranos for giving a pledge during a church appeal, and another suggests that synagogue sisterhoods could sell tickets to brawls between rabbis and their congregants and turn the fights into huge fundraisers. There are many delicious ironies and hypocrisies noted here, and Gleicher's eye for anti-Semitism--on the part of Jews as well as gentiles--adds much that is missing in more serious histories of American Jewry. But other all-too-candid remarks about black-Jewish and Jewish-gentile relations might better have been left out. The chauvinism is leavened by the use of humor and first-person pronouns; but it is still sufficiently apparent to limit Gleicher's potential audience to right-wing traditional Jews like himself. Introducing his bibliography, Gleicher closes with a final crack: ""This book is a survey, not a detailed text. Therefore it is my responsibility to direct you to further readings . . . from where I derived all my facts, figures, and biased opinions."" Professor Graetz meets Jackie Mason in this easy-reading American Jewish history with plenty of facts, insights, chutzpah, and shtick.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997


Page Count: 144

Publisher: Gefen

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1997

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