Settling in America (Laura Vertun)Presentation Transcript
Settling in America
A Little Background Information… Throughout history, in many different lands, Jewish immigrants have been exposed to all facets of anti-Semitism including intolerance, insecurity, religious taxation, occupational restrictions, and persecution. They were also denied citizenship and participation in public life in most host societies.
A Little Background Information… Between 1881-1923, a colossal wave of Eastern European Jews immigrated to the United States: over 3.5 million Russian, Polish, Hungarian and Austrian Jews, to be exact.
A Little Background Information… The United States’ democratic society created a safe haven from persecution, and left most doors open for Jewish immigrants. They were granted citizenship, could attend public schools, join communal associations and labor unions, enlist in the military and even hold public office. All of these new liberties created a soaring sense of patriotic loyalty among Jewish immigrants.
But The Jews Still Had Problems… Although circumstances were far better for the Jews in the United States than they were back in their homelands, they still found difficulties in the transitioning process. They struggled to strike a balance between: - adapting to American culture while - maintaininga strong Jewish identity.
Their Solution: By cherishing Jewish traditions, promoting social justice, valuing education, and developing patriotism, Jewish immigrants managed to adapt to their new surroundings and maintain their old values, while positively impacting the American economic and cultural life.
Cherishing Jewish Traditions Jewish immigrants packed their belongings in small trunks, with room for very few items. Half of their trunks contained a few garments and pairs of shoes, while the other half was crammed with religious artifacts such as Shabbat candlesticks, a Kiddush cup, a menorah and a tallit bag. Jewish immigrants came to the United States with only the few belongings they could carry, their traditions, and hope.
Cherishing Jewish Tradition Once they arrived, Jewish immigrants were granted the civil liberties and freedoms they yearned for, but struggled to fit in. In such an overwhelmingly new place, they found comfort in the familiar: Judaism. They formed Jewish immigrant neighborhoods for emotional support, and looked to already-established American Jews for financial support.
Promoting Social Justice In New York City, during the late nineteenth century, many clothing factories were already owned by Jews, which encouraged new Jewish immigrants to enter the garment industry.
Promoting Social Justice At this period in time, there were not laws in place that protected factory workers’ rights in any industry. Jewish factory workers were paid unfairly low wages to spend long hours in sweatshops, and the Jewish immigrants were miserable.
Promoting Social Justice Jewish factory workers held shop strikes quite frequently, and tensions rose, until finally, they organized themselves and created one of the very first LABOR UNIONS!!
Valuing Education Accomplishments like starting the first labor unions did not satisfy the immigrants, because they wanted a brighter future for their children. Since Jewish tradition views learning as a lifetime pursuit, they viewed education as the open path to success and achievement in the United States.
Valuing Education Since the Jews were denied access to education in Europe, they embraced the United States’ public school system with energy and purpose. Few of the Jewish immigrants were well-educated, but they came from a culture that has cherished learning for centuries. Their high respect for education was vital to the level of success that Jews achieved.
Valuing Education Learning English was a top priority for Jewish immigrants. Adults attended free English classes at night after exhausting days slaving away in garment industry sweatshops, and children were enrolled in the public school system. Although parents sought to educate themselves, their highest hopes rested in their children. If their children could become well-educated, they would be guaranteed a better life than their parents had known, and could look forward to bright futures.
Valuing Education First generation American Jews entered the public school system and went on to earn higher degrees in record numbers. Popular careers included medicine, law, communications, social welfare and education.
Valuing Education Their educational accomplishments allowed them to enter the emerging middle class that was being created by the first generation American Jews. It is remarkable to reflect on their efforts and realize that in only one generation, Jewish immigrants were able to achieve social mobility.
Developing Patriotism Social mobility only added to the long list of new things Jews could do in the United States. In addition to obtaining citizenship, and basic civil rights, Jews now had more money than they needed to simply survive. They could now afford to move out of immigrant neighborhoods, take vacations, and buy luxury items.
Developing Patriotism Jewish immigrants loved the United States, and felt strong patriotic loyalty to it.
Developing Patriotism Many Jews fought in the Civil War, World War I and World War II. They were willing to give their lives for the nation that gave them freedom.
Developing Patriotism Rabbi Alexander Goode was commissioned in World War II, and was aboard the S.S. DORCHESTER in 1943, which was carrying 900 American soldiers headed for combat. The Germans hit the ship with a torpedo, causing it to sink.
Developing Patriotism There were not enough life vests for all of the men on the S.S. DORCHESTER, so Rabbi Goode and three other chaplains gave their life vests to servicemen. They even walked the decks of the sinking vessel helping men into lifeboats and consoling those who were afraid. The four chaplains held hands in prayer as they sank to the bottom of the sea with the ship.
Developing Patriotism Rabbi Goode gave his life willingly to protect his country. His brave actions will forever be remembered. In 1951, President Harry S. Truman dedicated the Chapel of the Four Chaplains, an inter-faith chapel, in Philadelphia. Rabbi Goode’s last act was selfless, and his last words were Hebrew prayers.
In Summation… In the late nineteenth century, Jews from around the world fled religious persecution, and immigrated to the United States, where they found tolerance, and opportunities that they had previously never had access to. The United States was the first place to welcome Jewish immigrants with open arms and to offer them equal protection under the law.
In Summation… Without occupational restrictions in place, the Jews were free to enter any industry they desired. Most flocked to the garment industry, because it was heavily dominated by other Jews. However, in this time, factory workers of all industries were subjected to appalling working conditions, which ultimately pushed the Jews to help create the first labor unions.
In Summation… The adults worked exhausting days to financially support their children, making it possible for them to attended primary school and then continue on to earn degrees in higher education. Education enabled remarkable social mobility, elevating Jewish families from working class to middle class in only one generation.
In Summation… When national security was threatened, Jewish immigrants enlisted in the United States military to display their loyalty and patriotism. Many lost their lives to defend the first nation that gave them a home.
In Summation… Jewish immigrants found in the United States, a place where they experienced equality, and were given the opportunity to contribute to society, all while openly observing the Jewish religion.
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