Published by Jewish Lights

Family Matters. Fathers matter.

Jewish Fathers: A Legacy of Love is a compelling collection of stories and photographs celebrating the lives of contemporary American Jewish fathers. It is an epic story of struggle and success with a universal message for all fathers who seek to give their children the American dream, a life full of opportunity.

The image of the Jewish father is synonymous with the Yiddish word mensch, a good, kind, decent, human being. The word mensch has become part of America’s vocabulary. The first mensch that we meet in life is usually our father. Honest. Hardworking. Fair. Charitable. Funny. Reverent. Honorable. Responsible. A mensch. It is a standard to be lived up to, a standard that Jewish fathers have been charged with since the times of the Biblical patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

At the turn of the twentieth century, millions of impoverished Jewish immigrants arrived on Ellis Island. Escaping the horrors of persecution, they were looking to build a better life for themselves and their families. It is a legacy of grit and devotion that American Jewish fathers continue to impart to their children.

America has been immeasurably enriched by its Jewish citizens. Jews have achieved stellar successes in the arts, commerce, all the professions. Jewish Fathers: A Legacy of Love includes Senator Carl Levin, famed entertainer Theodore Bikel, Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, Rabbi Yosef Yitzhak Jacobson, noted political thinker David Frum, Caldecott-winning children’s illustrator Simms Taback, Frank London of the Klezmatics, and Shmuel Simenowitz, kosher organic maple sugar farmer. They, and the many other fascinating men included in these pages, are exemplars of the contributions Jewish fathers make to the well-being of their families and children.

No book of this type has yet been created exploring and honoring the role of American Jewish fathers. Jewish Fathers: A Legacy of Love honestly explores issues facing Jewish fathers in modern American society. Challenges of balancing career and family responsibilities, intermarriage, assimilation, education, single parenting, raising children with special needs, divorce, and religious observance. The men depicted here come from a broad spectrum of Jewish America- from secular to strictly orthodox, new fathers and grandfathers, the known and the unheralded, rural and urban, immigrants, converts – men with moving and uplifting stories to share. This is the modern world of our fathers. One that is steeped in tradition and exciting transitions.

One father eloquently sums it all up: “Just hearing them say, “Papa I love you” makes it all OK.”

Family matters. Fathers matter.

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