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Bread to Eat and Clothes to Wear

Letters from Jewish Migrants in the Early Twentieth Century

Gur Alroey

Publication Year: 2011

Between 1875 and 1924, more than 2.7 million Jews from Eastern Europe left their home countries in the hopes of escaping economic subjugation and religious persecution and creating better lives overseas. Although many studies have addressed how these millions of men, women, and children were absorbed into their destination countries, very little has been written on the process of deciding to migrate. In Bread to Eat and Clothes to Wear: Letters from Jewish Migrants in the Early Twentieth Century, author Gur Alroey fills this gap by considering letters written by Eastern European Jews embarking on their migration. Alroey begins with a comprehensive introduction that describes the extent and unique characteristics of Jewish migration during this period, discusses the establishment of immigrant information bureaus, and analyzes some of the specific aspects of migration that are reflected in the letters. In the second part of the book, Alroey translates and annotates 66 letters from Eastern European Jews considering migration. From the letters, readers learn firsthand of the migrants’ fear of making a decision; their desire for advice and information before they took the fateful step; the gnawing anxiety of women whose husbands had already sailed for America and who were waiting impatiently for a ticket to join them; women whose husbands had disappeared in America and had broken off contact with their families; pogroms (documented in real time); and the obstacles and hardships on the way to the port of exit, as described by people who had already set out. Through the letters in Bread to Eat and Clothes to Wear readers will follow the dilemmas and predicaments of the ordinary Jewish migrant, the difficulties of migration, and the changes that it brought about within the Jewish family. Scholars of Jewish studies and those interested in American and European history will appreciate this landmark volume.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

This book, Bread to Eat and Clothes to Wear: Letters from Jewish Migrants in the Early Twentieth Century, is the result of the research I completed for my last two books, which were published in Hebrew and which dealt with the mass Jewish migration in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. During the writing of these books, I discovered letters in the Central Zionist Archives and in the American ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-88

Between 1875 and 1924, more than 2.7 million Jews from Eastern Europe immigrated to countries overseas. The departure of millions of men, women, and children effected a radical change in the entire aspect of the Jewish people in modern times, and in many ways its consequences are recognizable to this day. This was the Exodus from Egypt in modern form, the exodus of a people who wished to free themselves from ...

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The Letters

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pp. 89-210

The letters were written in Yiddish and Hebrew by Eastern European Jews who were considering migration. It is not known whether they made the decision to migrate to one of the countries that received migrants. Since a considerable number of the letters were written in a state of distress and emotional turmoil, the handwriting was not always legible. The deciphering of the letters took many long months, ...

Appendix A: The Extent of Jewish Migration

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pp. 211-212

Appendix B: Towns

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pp. 213-214

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 215-220

Index

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pp. 221-228


E-ISBN-13: 9780814335833
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814335192

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 9
Publication Year: 2011

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Subject Headings

  • Jews, East European -- Migrations -- History -- 20th century.
  • Jews, East European -- Palestine -- Correspondence.
  • Europe, Eastern -- Emigration and immigration -- History -- 20th century.
  • Europe, Eastern -- Emigration and immigration -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
  • Jews, East European -- Migrations -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
  • Immigrants -- Palestine -- Correspondence.
  • Europe, Eastern -- Emigration and immigration -- History -- 19th century.
  • Jews, East European -- Migrations -- History -- 19th century.
  • Jews, East European -- United States -- Correspondence.
  • Immigrants -- United States -- Correspondence.
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