The Jewish American Paradox

Embracing Choice in a Changing World


By Robert H. Mnookin

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Who should count as Jewish in America? What should be the relationship of American Jews to Israel? Can the American Jewish community collectively sustain and pass on to the next generation a sufficient sense of Jewish identity?

The situation of American Jews today is deeply paradoxical. Jews have achieved unprecedented integration, influence, and esteem in virtually every facet of American life. But this extraordinarily diverse community now also faces four critical and often divisive challenges: rampant intermarriage, weak religious observance, diminished cohesion in the face of waning anti-Semitism, and deeply conflicting views about Israel.

Can the American Jewish community collectively sustain and pass on to the next generation a sufficient sense of Jewish identity in light of these challenges? Who should count as Jewish in America? What should be the relationship of American Jews to Israel?

In this thoughtful and perceptive book, Robert H. Mnookin argues that the answers of the past no longer serve American Jews today. The book boldly promotes a radically inclusive American-Jewish community — one where being Jewish can depend on personal choice and public self-identification, not simply birth or formal religious conversion. Instead of preventing intermarriage or ostracizing those critical of Israel, he envisions a community that embraces diversity and debate, and in so doing, preserves and strengthens the Jewish identity into the next generation and beyond.



WHEN I WAS thirty-six I was forced to confront my own ambivalence about being Jewish.

Recently tenured as a professor at Berkeley Law School, I was spending a sabbatical semester in Oxford, England, with my family. My wife, Dale, and I had enrolled our two daughters—Jennifer, then eleven, and Allison, eight—in English schools.

Over dinner one night at the start of the school year, Jennifer told us about her new class, Religious Education, taught by Miss Kay, the formidable headmistress at Oxford High School for Girls.

“Miss Kay asked, ‘Who here is Anglican?’” Jennifer reported. “Almost everyone raised her hand. Then Miss Kay asked, ‘Do we have any Presbyterians?’ A few more kids raised their hands. ‘Catholics?’ A couple of kids raised their hands.” Miss Kay had even asked about Mormons, as Jennifer recalled, but there were none. “Then she asked, ‘Is there anyone here not of the Christian faith?’”

I asked Jennifer what happened next.

“Well, I raised my hand. And Miss Kay gave me a funny look and asked, ‘And what are you, my dear?’ I told her, ‘I’m Jewish.’ Miss Kay paused for a second and said, ‘Oh, how interesting.’ Then she asked whether my parents would object if, as part of this course, we read parts of the New Testament as well as the Old Testament. I told her you would not object.”

Dale and I told Jennifer that she had responded quite appropriately. “How did all of this make you feel?” I asked.

She looked at us and asked, “When are we actually going to become Jewish?”

Dale and I were a little stunned. I responded, slightly defensively, “Your mother and I have always thought of ourselves as Jewish. We are not really religious, but we are Jewish.” Left unsaid, but implicit, was the idea I had grown up with: being Jewish was not something you needed to become; you just were, whether you liked it or not. By birth Dale and I were Jews. Therefore, so was Jennifer. Descent alone was enough.

One thesis of this book is that for my grandchildren this will no longer be true.

JENNIFER WAS NOT SATISFIED when I told her that Dale and I had always thought of ourselves as Jewish. She shot back, “You know what I mean!”

“I’m not sure I do,” I responded.

“I want to have a bat mitzvah,” she said.

Dale and I looked at each other, baffled. Where had this idea come from? Not from us. Neither Dale nor I had ever been bar or bat mitzvahed. We had grown up in the Midwest in the 1950s in highly assimilated families. Our parents and grandparents were longtime members of Reform Jewish congregations, which at the time did not even celebrate bar or bat mitzvahs. No Hebrew school for us. Instead, like our Protestant friends, we had been sent to Sunday school at our “temple”1 until tenth grade, when we were confirmed. Twice a year our parents took us to services on the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We received presents for both Hanukah and Christmas, the latter celebrated as a secular holiday with gifts under a Christmas tree.

In the Midwest of the 1950s every Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish family—whether religiously inclined or not—had been expected, as a matter of social convention, to belong to some church or synagogue.2 But unlike our parents, Dale and I had never bothered to join a temple, even after our children were born. As a young couple living in Cambridge, Washington, DC, and Berkeley in the late sixties and seventies, we had never felt any social pressure to do so. Nor to this point had we provided our children with any religious education or even taken them to temple on High Holy Days. But now our daughter was telling us that our passive form of being Jewish wasn’t good enough. (As we learned later, Jennifer’s interest in Judaism had been sparked by the fact that some of her friends back home had started studying for their bat mitzvahs.)

After a few moments of silence Dale and I recovered enough to make a few comments. Initially we tested her resolve. She’d have to learn to read Hebrew, we warned her, and it would be a lot of work. By the time we got home to California she would be behind her friends in bat mitzvah study. Dale asked whether Jennifer was really willing to give up some of her favorite after-school activities—music, art, dance—to fit it all in. Jennifer was determined to do it.

Meanwhile eight-year-old Allison sat quietly eating her dinner.

“I’m the only American kid in my class,” she commented finally. “And I’m probably the only Jewish kid. But no one has asked, and I haven’t said anything. I don’t see any reason to bring it up.”

Boy, could I relate to the approaches of both daughters! As an assimilated Jewish kid growing up in Kansas City, I had learned to be very quiet about my Jewish identity. If someone inquired if anyone was Jewish, I would raise my hand. But if no one asked, I wouldn’t bring it up. It wasn’t that I was afraid of anti-Semitism; I had never personally encountered a single anti-Semitic remark. But I was aware that being Jewish was somehow different and that I wasn’t supposed to make an issue out of it. The idea wasn’t to deny being Jewish but rather to fit in.

I certainly never had any sense that being Jewish was somehow an advantage. In fact, it was clear to me that it was a disadvantage. I was fully aware that Jews were a minority and that social discrimination still existed. The all-male prep school I attended had an unacknowledged Jewish quota of around 10 percent or so—I was one of five Jewish kids in my class. Absorbing all this as a teenager, I gathered that I was supposed to be proud of being Jewish, on the one hand, but to downplay it, on the other—and not to let it get in the way of my brilliant career. I handled these mixed messages by accepting my Jewish heritage, if not exactly embracing it, and then thinking about it as little as possible. Because I wasn’t religiously inclined, this approach worked for me well into adulthood.

But now Jennifer was challenging Dale and me to rouse ourselves from our apathy and to step up and affiliate for her sake. So we told her that when we returned to Berkeley we would join a temple and enroll her in its religious school so she could begin cramming for her bat mitzvah. When we got home we enrolled Allison as well.

Allison initially objected to going to religious school, which she correctly saw as “Jennifer’s thing.” I insisted she go. Paying hefty temple dues for the first time in my life, I was determined to reap some economies of scale. For the money we were spending, why shouldn’t Allison also learn something about her religious heritage? But because I was a little reluctant to force her to go, I bribed her. At the time she was obsessed with horseback riding, so I told her that if she went to Hebrew school and had a bat mitzvah, she could get a horse of her own for at least a year. That did the trick. So off both girls went to religious school, where they learned to read Hebrew, if not understand it. Blessedly, by the time Allison celebrated her bat mitzvah at thirteen, she had lost all interest in horses.

My response to Jennifer’s challenge turned out to be only a tiny step on the journey that led to this book. I call it a “tiny step” because initially I didn’t do much more than write a check. My own connection to Judaism remained slight while the kids were growing up, and so did Dale’s. We took the children to temple on High Holy Days. Most years we held a Passover Seder in our home, celebrating with both Jewish and non-Jewish friends its message of freedom. With regret, we stopped having a Christmas tree, which the Reform movement now strongly discouraged. That was more than enough religion for us.

FIFTEEN YEARS AFTER THAT dinner table conversation, Dale and I moved back to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I had been recruited to lead the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, my alma mater. The Program deals with conflicts of all sorts: family disputes arising from divorce, complex commercial disputes, and international disputes, especially ethnic conflicts. As part of my work as a negotiation expert, in an attempt to contribute to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I started facilitating confidential dialogues among clashing factions in Israel. During the entire two-year period of those talks, I didn’t see my interest in Israel as having anything to do with me being Jewish; I thought of the work as being motivated by my professional interest in dispute resolution.

I did much of this work with a gifted young Israeli graduate student named Udi Eiran. Udi’s view was that even the most assimilated Jew harbored a “Jewish spark,”3 a tiny pinprick of light that might someday be fanned into a blaze that fully illuminated one’s life. Whenever I would claim that the work was just part of my professional life, Udi would tease me. “No,” he would say, wagging his finger, “I can see the Jewish spark inside you!” At the time I laughed about it. But in retrospect Udi was probably right. It would take me another fifteen years to find that spark, but as you’ll see in this book, I ultimately found a way to connect powerfully with my heritage.

What fanned that spark was the birth of my four grandchildren. In my late sixties I began to realize that I fervently hoped they and their children would take pride in a Jewish identity. Continuity suddenly mattered to me. The irony of this development wasn’t lost on me: I had never given the slightest thought to “Jewish continuity” when raising my daughters. Jennifer and Allison had found their own Jewish identities, no thanks to me. As they entered their teens, Dale and I had never suggested that they should find Jewish mates. Religious tests of this sort would have been inconsistent with our values. When Jennifer married a Jew and Allison married a lapsed Episcopalian, Dale and I were delighted with the men they chose. When each couple eventually had two children, Dale and I never asked how they planned to raise the children religiously. In retrospect I was spectacularly lucky that both couples decided to raise the children as Jews.

But why did I care that my grandchildren would think of themselves as Jewish? That’s what puzzled me. And what did this sudden interest in continuity say about how my own Jewish identity had changed? These questions led me deep into an inquiry into Jewish identity, the nature of identity itself, and the challenges facing the American Jewish community.

WHO COUNTS AS JEWISH? The first part of this book is dedicated to this complicated question. What has being Jewish meant historically, and how well do the answers of the past serve American Jews today? The traditional “answers” essentially rely on descent—an ascribed status that is inherited. For my grandchildren’s generation, these traditional answers are no longer adequate.

I have also concluded that the American Jewish community faces four critical challenges, each of which creates conflict within the community, our families, and sometimes ourselves. These challenges anchor the second half of the book. Can the American Jewish community survive, given that:

Most American Jews don’t practice the religion? A commitment to Judaism provides a solid foundation to Jewish identity and a natural way to transmit that identity to the next generation. But today many Jews are, like me, uninterested in affiliating with a synagogue or observing much more ritual than a yearly Seder. Nearly half of American Jews say they are agnostic or do not believe in God, and only three in ten Jewish adults belong to a synagogue or temple. The challenge for Jews like me—and it’s no small challenge—is to clearly articulate to our children and grandchildren what our Jewish identity consists of and which values we hope to pass on.

American Jews are no longer persecuted for being Jewish? For centuries Jewish identity was reinforced by the need to band together for survival. In America, especially between about 1900 and 1950, Jews were barred from schools, professions, and neighborhoods. I was lucky to be born in 1942; by the time I applied to college, such educational quotas were largely gone, and today institutionalized discrimination has essentially disappeared. There are obviously still anti-Semites in America, but their hostility is no longer expressed through American institutions that hold the keys to power, prestige, and inclusion. My grandchildren will never experience the fear and discrimination that gave earlier generations such a strong bond. This freedom is a blessing for them, but it removes a potent reminder that they are Jewish. It is also the primary reason they will find it so easy to reject a Jewish identity if it doesn’t appeal to them.

Israeli policies cause bitter conflict among us instead of unity? Support for Israel and a commitment to its survival has long contributed to American Jewish identity. But today many of us find certain policies of the Israeli government increasingly offensive. Some of these policies relate to Israel’s continued military occupation of the West Bank; others concern the monopoly given to the Orthodox rabbinate to define authentic Judaism.

Most American Jews now marry outside the faith? For eighteen hundred years the vast majority of Jews married other Jews. Endogamy was required by traditional Jewish law and reinforced by social custom. In America this practice helped sustain Jewish identity for centuries. In 1900 the intermarriage rate was only about 5 percent. But for today’s young couples, intermarriage is the norm. Among Jews who married after 2000, some 58 percent chose a non-Jewish spouse. Will they and their children think of themselves as Jews?

The situation of American Jews today is deeply paradoxical. On the one hand, some 94 percent of us express pride in being Jewish, as well we should.4 The evidence of Jewish success in America is stunning. Although we constitute only 2 percent of the nation’s population, as a group we enjoy outsized influence and esteem in virtually every facet of American life, including higher education, science, the law, the arts, entertainment, politics, business, and philanthropy. The percentage of American Jews who hold college degrees is twice the American average (59 percent to 27 percent)5 and nearly triple for postgraduate degrees (28 percent to 10 percent).6 Further, 44 percent of Jews have a household income over $100,000, compared to 19 percent of the general population.7 Three of the nine Supreme Court justices are Jewish, as are one-third of American Nobel laureates.8

But in the face of the four challenges—weak religious observance, waning anti-Semitism, conflict over Israel, and rampant intermarriage—it’s not clear how long we can collectively sustain a strong sense of Jewish identity.

Fears about Jewish continuity are hardly new, especially in America. In 1964 Look magazine ran a cover story entitled “The Vanishing American Jew.”9 In 1997 my Harvard Law School colleague Alan Dershowitz wrote a best-seller with the same title.10 More recently a 2013 study of Jewish Americans “unleashed a tsunami of doom and gloom punditry,” in Professor Leonard Saxe’s words, about the American Jewish future, largely because of its sobering statistics on intermarriage.11 Some panicked souls even claim that we’re about to disappear as a group entirely, that success and acceptance will accomplish what even the most vicious anti-Semitism never could.

I believe this emphasis on “vanishing” is nonsense. The American Jewish community will not vanish over the next fifty years. At least two of its subgroups will survive: the Orthodox Jews and the ardent Zionists. My fear is more specific: if these are the only two groups who survive, the community will lose its diversity and much of its vibrancy. Those who don’t fit in—probably including my descendants—will be marginalized. Over time those who feel alienated or excluded from these “ways of being Jewish” will likely stop identifying themselves as Jewish at all.

THE TRADITIONAL APPROACH TO ensuring continuity, which many of today’s Jewish leaders favor, is to set strict criteria for “membership in the tribe.” I am extremely critical of this approach, which Dale and I first encountered personally about nineteen years ago when planning Allison’s wedding. Allison had fallen in love with a wonderful man whose full name is Cornelius Olcott V. Needless to say, Cory was not raised in the Jewish faith. Religion was not a big deal to either family, and both the Mnookins and the Olcotts were delighted with the match. But Allison and Cory, like all intermarried couples, had some negotiations ahead: first with each other, then with the temple.

The negotiations with each other were easy. Allison told Cory that she wanted a Jewish wedding and hoped to raise their children as Jews. Cory had no objection. Nor did his family. Cory was not especially religious, but he had no interest in converting to Judaism. In this regard, he was typical of non-Jews who intermarry.

The negotiations with the temple were more complex. In 1999 most Reform rabbis refused to perform a Jewish wedding unless the non-Jewish spouse first converted. (This is still the policy for Conservative and Orthodox rabbis.) Alli and Cory decided to get married in the Bay Area, where they had both grown up. At our former congregation in California the senior rabbi didn’t officiate at interfaith weddings as a matter of “principle.” But he referred Allison and Cory to the new junior rabbi who, he said, had a more flexible attitude and would sometimes officiate, pending an interview with the couple.

At the interview the junior rabbi asked Allison and Cory about their plans. They explained that they intended to raise their future children as Jews. They would join a temple and send the kids to religious school. The kids would celebrate bar or bat mitzvahs. Allison intended to celebrate Passover and Hanukah and take the kids to High Holy Days services. So far, so good. But then the younger rabbi asked, “What about Christmas?” Allison responded that they would not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, but they might have a Christmas tree in the house. It meant something to Cory, and besides, her family had had a tree when she was young.

The rabbi immediately cut them off and said he would not officiate. The interview was over.

Allison was devastated and humiliated. They had flunked the “Christmas tree test.” I was furious at the rabbi’s behavior. At the very least, I thought, he should have used Allison’s response as an opportunity for further conversation—perhaps to explain why he thought a Christmas tree might send a confusing mixed signal to the children. But to slam the door in their faces was hardly the way to welcome Cory to the Jewish world. Indeed, it rudely reminded him, “You are not one of us.” We ended up hiring a rabbi who was unaffiliated with a temple.

If this incident was a step in my journey, it was probably a step backward. Since then the Reform movement has increasingly welcomed interfaith couples, but I believe the community as a whole is still far too fond of setting exclusionary rules for membership. To my mind, the issue is: What are we doing about the next generation? Not, How can we stop intermarriage?

THIS BOOK, GROUNDED IN my struggle to come to terms with my own Jewish identity, proposes a new way of thinking about who counts as Jewish. It emphasizes choice in two directions. It accepts as part of the American Jewish community anyone who wishes to identify, no matter how many Jewish parents they have. It also allows people to leave the tribe without being condemned by other Jews for “denying their heritage.” This approach violates centuries of Jewish tradition, but it meets critical contemporary needs and offers a sound basis for Jewish identity in America. It’s a Big-Tent approach.

Inside the Tent the table is set with a smorgasbord of Jewish values, music, food, traditions, rituals, spirituality, language, philanthropic causes, and connections with Israel. At this table some will nibble; others will feast. But all will have options, and none will be turned away.

Once under the Tent, of course, Jews must be encouraged to stay: to affirm our Jewish identity rather than lapsing into apathy. Each of us needs to answer the question: Why do we care about being Jewish? Each of us must take responsibility for educating ourselves about our heritage and then choosing what’s meaningful to us—and how we want to express it. In a very real sense the “chosen people” must become the “choosing people.”

Let me say right here that I do not intend to tell anyone whether or how to be Jewish. There is no one right way. Nor do I presume to tell anyone why they should be Jewish. Each of us must figure that out for ourselves. But the importance of making these individual choices and their significance for the community as a whole is at the heart of this book. In these pages I invite the reader to accompany me on my own intellectual journey.



TO BEGIN INVESTIGATING the question of modern American Jewish identity, I start with the paradoxical life story of one of the world’s most influential theorists on the subject of identity, Erik Erikson. I first met Erikson in 1975. At the time he had recently retired as a Harvard professor and, with his wife, Joan, had moved to Tiburon, California. Erikson’s dear friends Bob and Judy Wallerstein had organized an informal faculty seminar of sorts to give him a friendly forum for trying out new ideas. I was fortunate to be invited to join the small interdisciplinary group of about twelve professionals who met with Erikson about half a dozen times.

Most of the other members of the seminar were prominent Bay Area mental health professionals—psychoanalysts, psychiatrists, and psychologists—who were considerably older than me. I was in my early thirties, a law professor at Berkeley with interdisciplinary interests, focusing primarily on child custody and children and the law. I leapt at the opportunity to join this distinguished group and to learn more about identity and human development from Erikson.

When I had been a student at Harvard in the 1960s Erikson had been a faculty celebrity. I didn’t meet him in Cambridge, nor did I take any courses from him, but many of my friends did. Trained in Vienna as a child psychoanalyst by the Freuds themselves—primarily Anna, but also her father, Sigmund—Erikson was a professor of human development and a lecturer in psychiatry. His perpetually oversubscribed undergraduate course at Harvard, Social Sciences 139, “The Human Life Cycle,” was popular, known for being very interesting and not terribly demanding. My friends who took the class reported that a high point came when Erikson screened and discussed Ingmar Bergman’s movie Wild Strawberries, about an old man looking back on how he had negotiated various stages of his life.

Erikson’s worldwide influence sprang from his developmental model of identity, which posited that we work through particular challenges over eight life stages. (Freud’s original theory of development had not extended past the years of early childhood.) He coined the concept of an “identity crisis,” which related to an adolescent’s struggle to develop a strong and cohesive sense of self. Erikson also championed the idea that a person’s cultural context influenced identity development. He wrote best-selling biographies of Martin Luther and Gandhi, establishing the genre of psychobiography. In Young Man Luther he suggested that a series of identity crises for Luther, including a rebellion against his domineering father, had made it possible for Luther to rebel against the Catholic Church and launch the Reformation. Gandhi’s Truth won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, rare feats for a book by a mental health professional.

Although I cannot claim to have gotten to know Erikson at all well over the course of the faculty seminars in Marin, I immediately took a liking to him. At seventy-two, he was a handsome man with blue eyes; a light, ruddyish complexion; and a striking mane of beautiful white hair. Although courtly, he dressed informally; like my grandfather George, he wore a western string tie with a striking piece of jewelry as a clasp. He was soft-spoken, with an accent that sounded German to me. From his name and appearance, however, I assumed he was Scandinavian.

Of our six or so sessions, I recall only one in which Erikson touched upon Jewish identity. He was talking about the challenges that a successful revolutionary regime faces in creating a new identity for its youth, and he used Israel and China as examples. In Israel, he said, Zionists had faced the challenge of creating a new kind of Jew—a native-born Israeli Jew (sabra) with a character different from that of the Diaspora Jew from Europe. The new Israeli Jew would devote his or her physical labor to cultivating the land; speak Hebrew, not Yiddish; and be a brave warrior, prepared to fight to protect the new Jewish homeland. This heroic image sharply contrasted with that of the stereotypical ghetto Jew, perhaps a peddler and a weakling, who was unwilling to fight even in his own self-defense. In China after the Revolution of 1949, Erikson said, the Communist regime had faced a similar challenge as it strived to create a new identity distinct from the old kowtowing “Chinaman” dominated by European colonialists.

I recall one other time when Erikson discussed Jewish identity in my presence. Dale and I had been invited to a dinner party at the Wallersteins’ that the Eriksons attended. Dale was seated next to Erikson, and early in the evening he asked her what kind of name Mnookin was. When she told him that the name came from a Hebrew word meaning “at rest” or “peaceful,” he asked Dale whether she was Jewish. When she replied that she was, he said, “You don’t look Jewish.” Then, as if to explain his questions, he said, with apparent modesty, “I write about identity, you know.”

What neither of us knew at the time was the importance Erikson himself attached to not “looking Jewish” and not having a Jewish name. We found that out by chance, shortly after this dinner party, when Erikson suffered a crisis relating to his own complicated and confused identity.

The crisis was triggered by a book review in the New York Times with the provocative title “Erik Erikson, the Man Who Invented Himself.”1 The review, written by Marshall Berman, a City College professor and Harvard PhD who had studied with Erikson, appeared on the front page of the March 30, 1975, Sunday Book Review section and included a beautiful photograph of Erikson with his magnificent head of white hair. It addressed Erikson’s most recent book, Life History and the Historical Moment, a collection of essays, most of which had been published before.


  • "An accomplished facilitator of negotiation, Robert Mnookin offers a master course in negotiating the most important questions a person--or a people--can confront. His focus on the contemporary challenges of Jewish identity--whether religious, social, familial, or ethnic--illuminates the larger issue of what it is to be self-critically human in a world for which few feel sufficiently prepared, much less at home. The Jewish American Paradox is an important book for Jews, Americans, and everyone who hopes for a better future."
    James Carroll, author of Constantine's Sword and The Cloister
  • "Mnookin presents a terrific case that Judaism should be a welcoming umbrella. My whole Jewish education was based on what you cannot do, what you cannot eat, when you cannot drive, play ball, etc. This book focuses on what you can do--embrace an ancient tradition and identify with a group. It is a call to stop feeling oppressed--an optimistic, almost non-doctrinal, evangelism."—Harold Holzer, Lincoln historian and director of Roosevelt House at Hunter
  • "In a book at once deeply personal and deeply learned, one of America's leading intellectuals invites us to a fascinating conversation about what it means to be Jewish in contemporary America and the challenges facing the American Jewish community."—Robert D. Putnam, professor of public policy, Harvard, and author of American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us
  • "A revolutionary (some would say heretical) revision."—The New York Times Book Review
  • "Mnookin . . . uses his considerable negotiation talents to gain a better understanding of, and to help us navigate the complexity of the American Jewish identity."—Mount Vernon Times
  • "Mnookin jumps off the pages as a master teacher, a charming intellectual companion. He knows how to challenge substantively, disagree agreeably and spark discussion amicably. His book beautifully summarizes modern Judaism - and the modern Jewish American condition.... And he's practical not just theoretical."—Jewish Journal
  • "Utilizing his expertise in the art of negotiation, Mnookin makes his case for a definition of Jewish identity that is wide and inclusive, knowing full well that many will disagree. In this respect, Mnookin is brave; while many writers have unpacked the challenges and questions of modern Jewry, few have the courage to try to answer those questions."—The Jewish BookCouncil
  • "The questions that this book raises are right on target and should be considered by all of us."—The Jewish Advocate
  • "Robert Mnookin has composed a challenging roadmap for American Jewry. Traditionalists will dismiss it as further proof of American Jewish decline. But others will rejoice that a serious voice from the less religiously observant Jewish majority sings so clearly, directly, and potentially instructively about the American Jewish future."—Florida Sun-Sentinel
  • "An extremely thoughtful and readable book. It allows the reader to get an inside view of the thinking that many American Jews may share but from the pen of an astute and highly-thoughtful individual who has extensive training in analyzing issues, policies, and approaches."—American Jewish Archives Journal

On Sale
Nov 27, 2018
Page Count
320 pages

Robert H. Mnookin

About the Author

Robert H. Mnookin is the Samuel Williston Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, the Chair of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, and the Director of the Harvard Negotiation Research Project. Before joining the Harvard faculty, Professor Mnookin was the Adelbert H. Sweet Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and the Director of the Stanford Center on Conflict and Negotiation.

At Stanford, he chaired the Jewish Community Federation and served as president of the Stanford Hillel Foundation. Between 1994 and 2003, he served on the International Board of the New Israel Fund as its Secretary and Treasurer. A leading scholar in the field of conflict resolution, Professor Mnookin is the author of nine books, including most recently Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight.

Learn more about this author