Anti-Semi­tism: Jew­ish Immi­grants Seek Safe­ty in Amer­i­ca (18811914)

Dava Press­berg

  • Review
By – July 12, 2016

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. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

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