This is a chronological survey of American films with significant Jewish content that made an important statement about America. Both familiar and lesser known films are included. An introduction discusses why American Jews were attracted to films as audiences, performers and business people, and evaluates how films help audiences think about their lives. The book starts with the first Jewish silent films and continues by historical era, focusing on representative and important films and placing them in their cultural contexts. One of the aspects of American Jewish life brought out by the films in general is the tensions between an American and a Jewish identity and between a Jewish identity and a broader human identity. Other themes are assimilation and acculturation, interfaith relations, Israel, marriage and family relations, the role of women, Jews and American politics, and anti-Semitism including the Holocaust.
Lawrence J. Epstein has written extensively on the history of comedy teams and the influence of Jewish humour in America. From 1974 to 2008 he was a professor of English at Suffolk County Community College in New York, USA.