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RABBI ADMIRAL AARON LANDES LECTURE SERIES

Fighting for Religious Pluralism: World War I and American Judaism

Jessica Cooperman headshot

FIGHTING FOR RELIGIOUS PLURALISM: World War I and American Judaism

Jessica Cooperman
Department Chair, Muhlenberg College
Associate Professor of Religion Studies
Director, Jewish Studies 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022
7:00 PM ET Online 

World War I American military camps were far more than places where troops were trained, they were also sites where young men from across the country, and from different communities and traditions met, mingled, and negotiated how to live, work, and fight together. The war and the draft, in fact, turned domestic military camps into vast laboratories for testing both Progressive era Americanization policies and new ideas about religious pluralism in the United States. This talk will explore the “welfare services” offered to American soldiers and sailors under the auspices of the War Department’s Commission on Training Camp Activities, but which were actually provided by the Protestant YMCA, the Catholic Knights of Columbus, and the Jewish Welfare Board. It will consider the goals that these different agencies brought into American military camps, and focus on the responses of soldiers, particularly Jewish soldiers, as they trained both to fight and to challenge ideas about the place of Judaism in American society.  

Free program

Jessica Cooperman is an Associate Professor of Religion Studies and Director of the Jewish Studies Program at Muhlenberg College. She teaches broadly on modern Jewish history, and her research focuses on the intersections of American Judaism, American religion, and state power. She is particularly interested in military history and in American efforts to promote Jewish-Christian interfaith dialogue. Cooperman received a joint Ph.D. in History and Judaic Studies from New York University and has previously been a fellow at the Center for Jewish History, Fordham University, and the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Selected publication: "Making Judaism Safe for America: World War I and the Origins of American Religious Pluralism" (New York University Press, 2018)

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