Jewhooing the Sixties: American Celebrity and Jewish Identity

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The 1960s saw a quantum leap in the status of Jews in American life, mediated in large part by the treatment of Jewish celebrities by Jews and gentiles alike. As comedian Lenny Bruce put it, it was suddenly “in” to be Jewish. Celebrities like Lenny Bruce, Sandy Koufax, Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand and their contemporaries were significantly more transformative than their predecessors. What was it about the 60s that allowed this to happen?

Dr. David E. Kaufman is a scholar and teacher of American Jewish history and a lifelong Jewish educator. A born and bred New Yorker, he spent a decade living in southern California while serving on the faculty of the Hebrew Union College in LA. In addition to many articles, he is the author of two books: Shul with a Pool: The ‘Synagogue-Center’ in American Jewish History (UPNE/Brandeis, 1999) and Jewhooing the Sixties: American Celebrity and Jewish Identity [Sandy Koufax, Lenny Bruce, Bob Dylan, and Barbra Streisand] (UPNE/Brandeis, 2012). David is currently building an online resource center entitled: “NEW YORK JEW: Center for New York Jewish History, Culture, and Community.”

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