Many of the core institutions of American Jewish life, including federations, private foundations, and other communal organizations, have long emphasized their remove from politics. Their declarations represent an almost century-long process of what Berman explains as “depoliticization.” Reflecting liberalism and its ideals of individual and market freedom, policies of depoliticization exercised discipline over American group life. State policies narrowed the terrain of political expression by rewarding with legal and financial power those voluntary groups that professed a clear division between the political and the not political. Yet an irony of depoliticization has been in its extraordinarily political outcomes.


Lila Corwin Berman (Temple University)

About the Speaker: Lila Corwin Berman is Professor of History at Temple University, where she holds the Murray Friedman Chair of American Jewish History and directs the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History. She is author of Speaking of Jews: Rabbis, Intellectuals, and the Creation of an American Public Identity (California, 2009) and Metropolitan Jews: Politics, Race, and Religion in Postwar Detroit (Chicago, 2015), and she is currently writing a book called The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex: The Historical Formation of a Multi-Billion Dollar Institution. Her articles have appeared in many publications, including the American Historical Review, Journal of American History, Jewish Social Studies, American Jewish History, Religion and American Culture, the Forward, and Sh’ma.

Etta and Milton Leve Scholar-in-Residence Lecture

Sponsored by the
UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies