There were two million of them. They settledmostly in the large cities and, fatefully, on theEast Side of New York. They were the EastEuropean Jews who, during four decades beginningin the 1880s, came to America in the great migration. Here is the story of their attempt to keep theirYiddish culture while making their way in a newsociety. Their story is classically American; it is alsoinimitably Jewish.Irving Howes book is a daring work; it projectsa broad historical range in which the narrative istold through particular and individual humanhopes and actions. Here are Joseph Barondess,Abraham Cahan, Jacob Adler, Lillian Wald, BelleMoskowitz, and David Dubinsky. Here is everyaspect of Jewish life the old country village(shtetl), the Atlantic crossing in steerage, the teem-ing life of the East Side, the Yiddish press and the-ater, the settlement houses, the garment trades andunions, the associations of old country neighbors(landsmanshaften), the various socialist groups,the synagogue (shul) and the Hebrew school(heder), and the sweatshops and the disasters,including the Triangle Shirtwaist fire.From the immigrant Jews came art, ideas,movements, and works that affected all Americans,including New Deal social reforms, contemporaryhumor, musicals, movies, and the American Jewishnovel. World of Our Fathers belongs in the librarynot only of every Jewish family, but also of everyreader whose people came from somewhere elseand, coming here, became something unique.
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