Conclusion
In his 1996 book Vanishing Diaspora, Bernard Wasserstein argues that the Jews of
Europeareintheprocessofarapidandsteadydecline.Pointingtothecentralrole
of Nazismincreatingthisstateofaffairs,Wassersteinplacesmostofthe‘‘blame’’
on broader cultural and social factors. Due to diminishing birthrates, increas-
ing migrations from eastern Europe, secularizing trends that have undermined
the centralityof Judaism, and the rapid disappearance of ‘‘authentic’’ Jewish cul-
ture—its languages, scholarship, literature, music, and so on—Wasserstein pre-
dicts that the Jews of Europe are ‘‘slowly but surely . . . fading away.’’ ‘‘Soon,’’ he
insists, ‘‘nothing will be left save a disembodied
memory.’’1
Whether or not one accepts Wasserstein’s most dire predictions about the
current state of Jewish life, a close study of postwar French Jewry seems to con-
firm the position that, aside from substantial demographic consequences,World
WarIIdidnotinandof itselfposeadefinitivethreattothecontinuationof Jewish
life in France. Not only did nearly two-thirds of the population survive, but be-
cause of American Jewish aid and the continued involvement of surviving native
andforeign-borncommunalleaders,organizationallifewasrapidlyreconstituted
and, in some cases, enhanced. Although affiliation in organized religious activi-
ties continued to dwindle in the decades after the war, this seems to have been
drivenmorebyliberalforcesthathadlongsoughttopullJewsintotheirsurround-
ingsocietiesthanbyJews’persecutionduringWorldWarII.Toputitanotherway,
despite the devastating ways the Holocaust played itself out in France, its occur-
rence had little immediate impact on stemming the tide of Jewish integration.
Neither driving Jews from their ancestral heritage, as some communal leaders
feared, nor encouraging them to maintain a greater affiliation with communal
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