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American Jewish Landscape Guidebook

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American Jewish Landscape Guidebook - Page Text Content

S: The American Jewish Landscape Final Project by Jenna Helfman

BC: "For every triumph, there is a loss."

FC: Guidebook to the Haunted History of American Jews | "A Journey through the Dark Side of the American Jewish Landscape"

1: Jews were surprisingly in Brazil first, not America. It was an accident that they got here in the first place. It was a last resort; its not like they had any rights in Europe. Jews were not thought of as human. They moved to Brazil for a clean slate, but so did the Church. With the Church in Brazil, inevitably came Jewish racism as well. Jews are seen as an infectious force right from the very start. They were said to be lacking purity in their blood. | The First Settlement

2: This guidebook delves deep into the vast variety of places, people, and the true muddiness of the Jewish American identity. Jews set up shop in just about every crevice on the map. Whether in New York, Los Angeles, or Miami, to Texas and Colorado, the quest of the American Jew is never ending and quite pertinent to the refashioning of America that has taken place throughout the decades. Although the experience can be a glorious one, this travel guide is to the ghostly homes of Jewish past. The Jewish American landscape is shadowed by many factors. | May this book be a powerful, warning and reminder that the undertones of the subject run very deep. This guide also portrays the succession of finding a voice, and/or losing it. Things are not always easy, and we must all learn to acknowledge the darkness of things such as the displacement and loss that comes hand in hand with being an American Jew. The Jews are negatively depicted as wanderers and that is because they are trying to find a place that they can truly call home, but it seems as if everywhere is taken. Many Jews flourish because they learn to live by their own design.

3: Here begins a journey through time, The Jewish American journey is about the struggle of a tiny minority who makes their way into the American life, while still maintaining a strong sense of their own identity as Jews. Focusing on the tension between identity and assimilation, we find that this story is quintessentially American.

4: In 1654, the main population of Jews was made up of women and children. They had nowhere to go but New Amsterdam. None of them wanted to live there because there was absolutely nothing there for them. Going to New York was scary. The Jews just washed up on shore like some old bottles lost at sea. They were not the first Jews to set foot in North America, but their success in obtaining official permission to remain in the colony set a precedent for other Jews who followed in their footsteps. Two out of the 23 refugees stayed and planted the seeds of what would become the first American Jewish community. | It may sound like these immigrants had an easy time settling, but the truth is quite contrary. Upon arrival, the Jews come across peter Stuyvesant, and right of the bat, were not greeted with open arms. What was he to do with these useless people? They were like stray cats; if you fed them, they would never leave. Economic realities allowed them to stay, but there is never any certainty in the length of their stay. Economics trumps religion in this period. to their advantage. Towards the end of the 1600’s, things begin to change. New York is the new black.

6: Ellis Island

7: At Ellis Island, not everything is what it seems. It is a beacon of hope and despair. It may appear to be a majestic place, but that is just the view from the outside. There is a darker undercurrent that comes with the story of becoming an American Jew arriving here. The inspection began the second the statue of liberty was within view. There was no privacy anywhere. Upon arrival, the immigrants had numbers assigned to each and everyone of them. Immigration inspectors would cross- reference immigrants about their right to enter the country using these assigned numbers. The Ellis Island processing station was meant to filter out the bad eggs in a seemingly endless supply of human beings.

8: The only homes that Jews could afford were in tenements. They were They were small, dark, buildings that smelled like garbage. On the lower east side, life was a crowded street fair. Roads were unpaved, and full of people at all times.

9: It's difficult to stay clean on the lower east side. Washing machines and other technology had not been invented yet, and there was no running water. The lower east side was more crowded than any place in the world at the time. diseases such as tuberculosis spread quickly and killed many people due to unsanitary and close living quarters. The term ghetto in America is very different from how it was used in Europe in the midst of the world wars. It is merely the place that housed most of the Jewish population in New York at the time. Immigrants were definitely seen as foreigners, but that didn't discourage them from trying to make it in America.

10: Jewish peddlers endured anti-semitism that denied them credit. Due to multiple setbacks, it took Jewish peddlers quite a while to prosper in this occupation, but over time they were able to establish a stable community.

11: A common motif is Jews as peddlers. They are stereotyped as demonic in their zeal to sell their wares. They were rumored to be unscrupulous and full of trickery in all of their dealings. These unfortunate caricatures meld perceptions of the contemporary Jew with traditional anti-semitic slurs.

12: Leo Frank (April 17, 1884 – August 17, 1915) An Jewish-American factory superintendent whose hanging in 1915 by a lynch mob of prominent citizens in Marietta, Georgia drew attention to antisemitism in the United States.

13: The false testimonies given by the young girls who were friends of Little Mary were extremely frustrating. How could all those people lie? What benefit was it to them? Why did they all do what Mr. Dorsey told them to? The community was outraged by the murder. It turned into anti-semitic media frenzy. Lucille stressed to the vicious pack of reporters that no one truly knew her husband. She couldn't believe how someone could say such falsehoods about her beloved, decent husband that wouldn't hurt a fly. The citizens of Atlanta all wanted closure and revenge. They wanted someone to pay for what was done. Leo Frank became the prime suspect only because he was seen as an outsider. There was no evidence, but this didn't seem to matter. He was Jewish, that was enough for them.

14: Ill Jews hoped to find some relief from the unyielding effects of tuberculosis, also known as consumption, by moving from the tenement to the sanatorium. Organizations such as the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society, whose pop-up shops were on every corner of Jewish immigrant neighborhoods, made relocating to Denver possible for those interested. The arrival of Eastern European Jewish immigrants during the 1880s was said to be in correspondence with a rapid increase in the number of tuberculosis cases America. Consumption was known as the white plague, and the doctors of the time only had one potential cure: fresh air and plenty of sunshine. Denver's vast mountains and crisp climate became home to infected Jewish immigrants primarily from the Lower East Side. As it turns out, The climate wasn't enough to revive these poor, unfortunate souls.

16: The major movie moguls were the men who invented the beauty and mystery of Hollywood. They were a bunch of resolute men determined to find their way into the epicenter of American life. Jews have had a huge influence in Hollywood. By the 1930s Jews dominated the film industry as almost all of the major production companies were run by eastern European Jews. Despite their success, they are still discriminated against.

17: Show-biz Jews have supposedly corrupted the minds of youth through, among other things, In 1921, Henry Ford's Dearborn Independent wrote that the “motion picture influence” was “exclusively under the control, moral and financial, of the Jewish manipulators of the public mind.” In every aspect of the American Jewish experience there always seems to always be looming anti-semitism.

18: Leisure looms large, but so do ghosts of Jewish past. | Joseph Seligman was emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 18. He first worked as a peddler and then founded a clothing company with his brothers. They later established an extremely successful banking house, J. and W. Seligman. Despite his success, in 1877, the refusal of the Grand Hotel in Saratoga Springs, NY to rent him a room drew national attention to the issue of anti-semitism.

20: Hostility towards the Jews has existed in America since the very beginning, but because the founding documents of the American republic gave the Jews, and those of every faith, equal rights and protection. Religious equality is a fundamental right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and so Jews have maintained the mindset and belief that those who discriminate oppose the American way of life. | Jews brought revolutionary ideas and brand new ways of living to America. Jewish immigrants and their offspring before us spent their entire lives trying to become successful in the fast pace American economy. All of the people and places mentioned in the guide have greatly influenced the development of the modern American way of life. None of this would have been accomplished without strong-willed Jews who overcame a myriad of obstacles and anti-semitism in their quest for freedom.

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  • Title: American Jewish Landscape Guidebook
  • by Jenna Helfman
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  • Published: almost 8 years ago