From Library Journal
Concise is the key word to categorize the more than 24,000 entries here, ranging from two to 14 lines, referencing Jews who lived in the United States from Colonial times until approximately 1985. Criteria for inclusion is “ethnic origin, notability, notoriety,” and inclusion in a prior reference source. The original sources are cited in each entry, providing the reader with the tools to obtain additional information. The editors are aware of some errors and discrepancies, and include variant dates when sources disagree. They also recognize the inclusion of some non-Jews with “Jewish-sounding” names. Due to the vastness of the project, they were not able to independently verify the authenticity of all the information. Primarily useful for research and genealogical collections.?Carol R. Glatt, V.A. Medical Ctr. Lib., Philadelphia
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Before discussing what The Concise Dictionary of American Jewish Biography is, it might be well to review what it is not. It is not a biographical work for contemporary Judaism; thus it will not help someone looking for a biography of the rabbi their synagogue is thinking of hiring. The editors sought to include only those people whom they had reason to believe had died by 1985, the cutoff date. What the dictionary does provide are brief biographies of approximately 24,000 American Jews, ranging from Asser Levy, one of the first Jewish settlers in New York, through individuals identified only as “communal worker.”
Entries are alphabetical, with copious cross-references; the searcher seeking information on Rabbi David de Sola Pool will find the reference: “De Sola Pool, David; see Pool, David De Sola.” Each entry includes other names by which the person was known, such as Russian or Polish names changed after coming to the U.S.; birth and death dates and places; date of immigration to the U.S. or to a particular city or state when appropriate; education; identification by occupation or position in the Jewish community; brief biographical notes presented in a telegraphic style; and citations to biographical sources where further information can be found. A helpful feature is the inclusion of the introduction, instructions on use of the work, a list of abbreviations, and a bibliography in both volumes of the set.
The editors consulted a variety of sources in compiling this work, including the American Jewish Yearbook, Encyclopedia Judaica and other Jewish encyclopedias, Who Was Who in America, New York Times Obituary Index, and other works that would be likely to identify people by their religion. They limited themselves to information found in these sources and did not do original research. Thus, both Leonard Bernstein and chess prodigy Bobby Fischer are listed without death dates, though that information would have been easy to find in other sources. Marcus, the senior editor, is archivist at Hebrew Union College, where he has built a large collection of materials on American Jewish history.
Libraries needing an index to Jewish biography will find this dictionary helpful. The book would be strengthened by geographic and occupational indexes, particularly since it includes so many people not covered in standard biographical sources. For large Judaica and genealogy collections.