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American Jews in Text and Context: Jacob Behrman and the Rise of a Publishing Dynasty

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This article explores the career of Jacob Behrman (1921–2012) and the growth of Behrman House from a small Jewish bookseller to the leading publisher of Jewish religious school textbooks. Behrman’s success owed in part to his ability to appeal to the vast center, to gauge correctly his consumers’ needs and reflect their outlook and values, to eschew partisanship and play down ideological differences, and to swim with the tide. In addition, I make the case that Behrman House elevated the field of Jewish education by raising the quality of Jewish textbooks, and that through its ascendency played a role in redefining the goals of Jewish education and its undergirding ideological thrust. Behrman was not driven by a single model of Jewish education or a monolithic vision for the Jewish community, but rather, by business exigencies and a connection to Jewish peoplehood and culture.

Affiliations: 1: Brandeis University

10.1163/18718000-12340028
/content/journals/10.1163/18718000-12340028
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/content/journals/10.1163/18718000-12340028
2013-12-02
2018-04-27

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