March 21, 2013
The Rise of David Levinsky, written by the legendary founder and editor of the Jewish Daily Forward, is an early Jewish-American classic. According to the scholar Sam B. Girgus, “The novel is more than an important literary work and cultural document. It forms part of the traditional ritual of renewal of the American Way.” First published in 1917, Abraham Cahan’s realistic novel tells the story of a young talmudic scholar who emigrates from a small town in Russia to the melting pot of turn-of-the-century New York City. As the Jewish “greenhorn” rises from the depths of poverty to become a millionaire garment merchant, he discovers the unbearably high price of assimilation.