The American Jewish Historical Society has awarded the biennial Saul Viener Book Prize in American Jewish History to Newberry Vice President for Research and Academic Programs Daniel Greene for his recent book, The Jewish Origins of Cultural Pluralism: The Menorah Association and American Diversity (Indiana University Press, 2011).
Greene’s book traces the emergence of cultural pluralism through the lives of a group of young Jewish Harvard students who in 1906 founded the Menorah Association, which advocated a pluralist America that would accommodate a thriving Jewish culture in mainstream American life. The same group later launched the Menorah Journal, which became a leading voice of Jewish public opinion in the 1910s and 1920s.
In its announcement, the AJHS noted that, “Greene persuasively demonstrates that the roots of cultural pluralism can only be fully understood within the social and cultural context of the elite Jewish Menorah Association with which Horace Kallen was so deeply involved and that offered opportunities for Jewish college students to develop rich Jewish cultural interests. Greene illustrates the aspirations, achievements, and limitations of an organization that ultimately lacked the flexibility to adapt to the changing needs of American Jewish college students, but that nevertheless influenced the evolution of American Jewish culture as a harbinger of the multiplicity of expressions of Jewish identity today, where we see the full flowering of Kallen’s vision of cultural pluralism. In this way, Greene provides critical insights for contemporary scholars about the possibilities and challenges of creating a lasting Jewish cultural renaissance in the U.S.”
“Danny’s growing reputation as a distinguished and innovative scholar is confirmed and underscored by the Viener Prize, an award given by a venerable and distinguished historical organization,” Newberry President David Spadafora said. “In addition to leading the Newberry’s Division of Research and Academic Programs, Danny currently heads the Newberry’s two-year project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, on religious pluralism in American history, which works with community college faculty members in the Chicago area. He also is co-curator of the forthcoming exhibition, “Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North,” and co-editor of its companion volume, to be published early this fall by the University of Chicago Press. We at the Newberry take institutional pride in our colleague and friend.”
Before becoming Vice President for Research and Academic Programs, Greene was the Newberry’s director of the Dr. William M. Scholl Center for American History and Culture. Prior to that, he was a curator and historian at the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
The American Jewish Historical Society provides access to more than 25 million documents and 50,000 books, photographs, art and artifacts that reflect the history of the Jewish presence in the United States from 1654 to the present. Among the treasures of this heritage are the handwritten original of Emma Lazarus’ The New Colossus, which graces the Statue of Liberty; records of the nation’s leading Jewish communal organizations; and important collections in the fields of education, philanthropy, science, sports, business and the arts. Founded in 1892, AJHS is the oldest national ethnic historical organization in the nation. AJHS is one of five partner organizations at The Center for Jewish History in Manhattan and has a branch in Boston.