The story of American Jewry is inextricably entwined with the awesome defeat of the Holocaust and the rebirth of the state of Israel. However, for Michael Berenbaum, and others of his generation, whose adult consciousness included the war in Lebanon and the Palestinian Uprisings, the tale is more anguished, for the Jewish people is now divided, uncertain about the implications of the past and thus, the direction of its future.
In thirteen essays, Berenbaum explores the Jewish identity of this generation, the first to mature after tragedy and triumph. He probes the Holocaust's impact on Jewish consciousness and the imprint of American culture on Jewish identity. Challenging Zionism's conventional assumptions, he details American Jews' changing relationship to Israel as he examines the tensions created within Jewish tradition between a history of victimization and the empowerment of Jews. While demonstrating that the security of victors is one step from the anguish of victims, even when the victors have recently emerged from the fire, Berenbaum holds out the hope of liberation for Judaism, maintaining that five thousand years of history, with its chapter of Holocaust and empowerment, provide a unique foundation upon which to build a future.