In staid language, this book examines leading 20th century American-Jewish values— education, medical/health care, and religious affiliation — astonishingly maximized in suburban Great Neck, from 1920 to 1960. Proximate to New York City, surrounded by placid Long Island Sound, Great Neck merits three lines in an encyclopedia— F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Gatsby, which skewered its flamboyant, theatrical, dissolute residents, Jews among them, and the United States Merchant Marine Academy. Both live on, in their fashion.
The purchase of homes, beautiful but depression-decimated, by moderately successful Jewish businessmen increased after World War II. Goldstein notes that Jews met little Gentile seller or builder resistance, unlike adjacent communities while the new suburbanites retained immigrant ways and accents, Jewish-American values triumphed — the establishment of schools of nationally-recognized excellence, establishment of impressive synagogues and leadership, and two hospitals (accepting Jewish physicians) — within a twenty to thirty year span, meticulously detailed.
The epilogue indicates current dissension, a scandal, etc. Demographics and an editorial pencil are scant. This book fills a niche for students of 20th century suburbs, and for Jewish Great Neck residents — past and present. Acknowledgments, bibliography, epilogue, illustrations, index, introduction, notes.