Part of the publishers’ series on immigration and migration, this nonfiction treatment of the subject would be welcomed by schools and libraries, as well as children who want to do some personal research. In addition to clearly written text, it contains photographs, informative sidebars, a glossary, an index, a list of primary sources and a link to updated websites provided by the publisher.
Readers learn about the uncomfortable shipboard trip, the Castle Garden or Ellis Island experience, the search for work and housing, immigrant aid societies, developing communities and hope for the future. The title, though, is broader than the actual subject matter covered.
The book details the anti-Semitism faced by Russian-Jewish immigrants to the United States escaping the pogroms and persecutions of the time period. While this group was large and sociologically important, Russian Jews were not the only Jewish immigrants of the time and not the only Jews facing anti-Semitism. The fact that the book covers Russian Jews only should have been specified in the title. Many Jews who immigrated during the time period looked nothing like the Jews portrayed in these photographs and were culturally dissimilar to the Russian Jews.
If used in conjunction with other sources to balance the misimpression that this group represents the entirety of the Jewish immigration, this can be a resource for schools, libraries and children ages 8 – 12 who want to learn more about the time period and the anti-Semitism and Jewish life of the era.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. She has lectured on a variety of topics relating to children and books and her greatest joy is reading to her grandchildren on both sides of the ocean. Michal lives in Great Neck, NY and Efrat, Israel.