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La America: The Sephardic Experience in the United States: Marc D. Angel

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La America: The Sephardic Experience in the United States
Author: Marc D. Angel
Publisher: Varda Books
Date: 2002
Pages: 238
Format: pdf
Size: 10,4 mb
Quote: 
[...]Between 1880 and 1925, millions of immigrants poured into the United States, primarily from Russia and eastern Europe. With the passing years, this migration movement intensified. During the period from 1899 to 1910, more than one million Jews arrived at the Port of New York to begin their lives in the New World. Many had come in search of opportunity and wealth; others had fled from persecution in their native lands. Many came alone; others arrived with their families. Many planned to settle here permanently; others intended to remain only as long as it took to make their fortune. 
The crowded, tenement-lined streets of the Lower East Side of New York, where hundreds of thousands of these immigrants settled, became a unique human experiment, testing the ability of different groups to coexist while maintaining their own identity. But this enormous experiment—which took place to a lesser degree in other immigrant ghettos in cities throughout the country—was not merely a test of groups. Each immigrant was involved in a personal battle, a fight to survive in a new and difficult social context. The immigrant brought the language and culture of his native land to New York. He had been used to a different kind of life; now he was confronted with an English-speaking American culture as well as with a variety of subcultures different from his own, all represented on the streets of the Lower East Side. This human experiment produced many successes and many failures. The harsh realities of immigrant life pushed each person’s abilities to the limit. From this milieu emerged a large number of intellectuals, industrialists, labor leaders, politicians, and folk heroes. No doubt many immigrants who did not achieve fame but remained part of the nameless masses lived noble and courageous lives. To survive in such a difficult setting is its own tribute. 
Along with the immigrants who succeeded in rising above their environment were those who were crushed and ruined by it. The newspapers of the period record suicides of people who no longer could face life as it was. Poverty, miserable working conditions, and rampant disease all took their toll. The world of concrete and brick wrecked many lives. As an experiment in human civilization, the Lower East Side succeeded and failed. [...] (from introductory chapters)


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