A Chosen Calling: Jews in Science in the Twentieth Century by Noah J. Efron

By Noah J. Efron

Students have struggled for many years to give an explanation for why Jews have succeeded extravagantly in sleek technological know-how. quite a few debatable theories—from such intellects as C. P. Snow, Norbert Wiener, and Nathaniel Weyl—have been promoted. Snow hypothesized an advanced genetic predisposition to clinical luck. Wiener steered that the breeding conduct of Jews sustained hereditary characteristics conducive for studying. Economist and eugenicist Weyl attributed Jewish highbrow eminence to "seventeen centuries of breeding for scholars."

Rejecting the concept Jews have performed good in technological know-how due to uniquely Jewish qualities, Jewish brains, and Jewish behavior of brain, historian of technological know-how Noah J. Efron methods the Jewish affinity for technological know-how in the course of the geographic and cultural conditions of Jews who have been pressured to settle in new worlds within the early 20th century.

Seeking aid from spiritual persecution, hundreds of thousands of Jews resettled within the usa, Palestine, and the Soviet Union, with huge concentrations of settlers in big apple, Tel Aviv, and Moscow. technology performed a wide function within the lives and livelihoods of those immigrants: it used to be a common strength that transcended the arbitrary outdated international orders that had lengthy ensured the exclusion of all yet a couple of Jews from the seats of energy, wealth, and public esteem. even if the 3 locations have been a long way aside geographically, the hyperlinks one of the groups have been enduring and lively. This shared experience—of dealing with the longer term in new worlds, either actual and conceptual—provided a new release of Jews with possibilities not like any their mom and dad and grandparents had known.

The tumultuous contemporary century of Jewish historical past, which observed either a methodical crusade to blot out Europe's Jews and the inexorable absorption of Western Jews into the societies during which they now reside, is illuminated by means of where of honor technology held in Jewish imaginations. technology used to be principal to their desires of making new worlds—welcoming worlds—for a persecuted people.

This provocative paintings will attract historians of technology in addition to students of faith, Jewish stories, and Zionism.


Noah Efron's a selected Calling is a clean and bold exploration of the keenness with which Jews have celebrated technology, and of the mythical contrast with which they've got practiced technological know-how in 3 significant domains... Efron exhibits that during all 3 instances, Jews delivered to their novel conditions a force for complete participation in a global the place they'd been denied that participation, and he indicates, additional, that the universalist ethos of technological know-how supplied a uniquely robust technique of participating.

(David A. Hollinger, college of California, Berkeley)

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