This book focuses on the first Supreme Court case to grant Jewish Americans race-based civil rights and highlights the complexity of White-perceived Jewish racialization in the United States. In 1982, vandals defaced Shaare Tefila Congregation in Silver Spring, Maryland, with Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi images and slogans. Because no religion-based statutes applied to the desecration, the synagogue’s lawyers were required to utilize race-based statutes. In her close study of what became the 1987 case Shaare Tefila Congregation v. Cobb, Annalise Glauz-Todrank offers a nuanced analysis of the ways in which the members of the congregation, their lawyers, and the vandals’ lawyers used the concepts of race and religion to argue their case. Judging Jewish Identity in the United States understands “race” and “religion” as White, Christian categories and illustrates how they have been accepted and internalized in the American environment. Glauz-Todrank examines how the judges went through a process of constructing the legal meaning of Jewish identity. Likewise, she narrates how the congregants responded to the vandalism, were relieved by the cleanup day that incorporated their neighbors, and pursued the case as “religious” Jewish Americans.
Annalise E. Glauz-Todrank is assistant professor in the Department for the Study of Religions at Wake Forest University.
Chapter 1. “It Was a Crime against the Community”
Chapter 2. Preparing to Take Legal Action
Chapter 3. Judging ‘Religion’ and ‘Race’ in the Federal District Court of Maryland and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
Chapter 4. Judging ‘Religion’ and ‘Race’ in the Supreme Court
Chapter 5. The Shaare Tefila Congregation after the Supreme Court Decision
Conclusion: Why Shaare Tefila Congregation v. Cobb Matters
Judging Jewish Identity in the United States masterfully examines a seminal legal case to provide a grand, trenchant narrative about the vital yet overlooked role religion plays in the project of American race-making. Glauz-Todrank deftly meshes historical examination with legal analysis, uncovering dimensions of the Shaare Tefila Congregation v. Cobb case that highlight the complicated relationship between racial formation and religion, free exercise and hate violence, Judaism and whiteness. By reflecting back on this critical case, Glauz-Todrank equips readers with the intellectual tools to reckon with rising anti-Semitism today and gain intimate insight into the turbulent tension between religious minority status and belonging in America.