The Legacy Of Jewish Americans Essay

The Legacy Of Jewish Americans Essay

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Often overlooked in the account of the history of America is that of Jewish Americans. Driving them to the so-called “Garden of Eden” that was the United States was oppression faced in their homelands, particularly Russia and Eastern Europe. The majority of Jewish people worked in the crafts industry as tailors, cobblers, and barbers-- a line of work leaving them susceptible to impoverishment due its erratic nature. Unfortunately, the agonies of life for Jews in Russia stretched far beyond poverty. Pogroms, or the celebrated massacring of Jewish people, were often held to commemorate the coming of Passover. Denominated as “‘Christ-killers’” (Takaki, 263), thousands of Jews boarded ships to Ellis Island after hearing of the gold-paved streets of America. Russian and Eastern European Jews alike came by the millions, and by 1905, the Lower East Side was home to over a half-million Jewish people.
Despite the fervor regarding this new “‘golden land’” (Takaki, 264), America, though considerably better than their previous conditions, proved inadequate in its own ways. Tenement housing was irrationally overcrowded, lacked sufficient facilities, and fell short of proper ventilation. In order to fuel the Union Army’s need for clothing, many Jews labored long hours as garment workers. Sisters, whose culture barred them from pursuing educations, slaved day in and day out as seamtresses to put their brothers through college. The hard work of the Jewish American began paying off as the second generation saw the doors of grand universities opening before them. But this great achievement was not without backlash of racialization. As the number of Jewish men attending Harvard University began increasing, it was said that these people were “‘dirt...

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.... Their form of resistance came through organized empowerment and support from within their nationality. Black men encouraged one another to start businesses, open banks, and invest in insurance companies. Harlem, New York was nicknamed the “Negro Capital of the World” for its boom in African American art, music, poetry, photography, writing, and scholars. This “Harlem Renaissance” brought us some of the most notorious American creators-- Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Jean Toomer. Marcus Garvey spread words of black nationalism and black pride. Unity was the African American’s form of resistance. If the Great Depression were not to dissolve the black progress America was witnessing, white Americans would have continued dancing to jazz music and standing in poetry clubs until the racial formation of African Americans were to align with their accomplishments.

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