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Frankfurt on the Hudson

The German Jewish Community of Washington Heights, 1933-82, Its Structure and Culture

Steven M. Lowenstein

Publication Year: 1989

The 20,000 German Jews who fled Hitler's Germany and settled in Washington Heights were unusual in many ways. They preserved their Jewish identity while fostering a culture that was still heavily German—a difficult combination in light of their origins. In his study of this immigrant group, Steven Lowenstein strives for more that a chronicle of their institutions and leaders. He analyzes both the social structure of the community and the folk culture of the immigrants. He deals with such issues as the formal nature of German Jewish cultural style, the relationships between the generations, and intergroup relations. Using organizational bulletins, surveys, interviews, and personal observations and anecdotes, Lowenstein paints a picture of a unique lifestyle now in the process of merging into American Jewry and disappearing.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 7-8


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pp. 9-10


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pp. 11-13

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pp. 15-17

It is both a pleasant and a difficult duty to thank all the persons who helped me in putting together this book. So many have been helpful in one way or another that it is difficult to remember and list all of them, though it is a pleasure to think back on the...

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pp. 18-21

For many years, I have felt a strong relationship between my personal connection with the German-Jewish community of Washington Heights and my interest in the social and cultural history of German Jewry...

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1. Refuge from Germany

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pp. 22-26

In the years before the outbreak of World War II, the hills of northern Manhattan became the home of over twenty thousand refugees from Nazi Germany. The colony they created in the neighborhood called Washington...

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2. The Jewish Community in Germany

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pp. 27-38

The German-Jewish community differs from most immigrant communities in that the culture from which it derived, German Jewry, no longer exists in its original setting. The immigrant communities provide...

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3. Establishment of the Washington Heights Community

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pp. 39-56

Washington Heights (Map 1) was the last part of Manhattan to be urbanized. Although the area played a role in the Revolutionary War, and received its name because George Washington was actually present during the battle there...

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4. Economic Adjustment and Communal Consolidation

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pp. 57-65

Many of the immigrants of the 1930s missed the comforts they had enjoyed in pre-Nazi Germany. They reminisced about their former positions and sometimes exaggerated their lost prosperity. Often their nostalgia...

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5. The Social Structure

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pp. 66-100

Although Washington Heights was the largest and most concentrated German-Jewish neighborhood in the United States, German Jews constituted only about 10 percent of the population of the entire neighborhood...

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6. The Institutional Framework

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pp. 101-139

The German Jews of Washington Heights brought with them from Europe a tradition of an extremely well organized Jewish institutional life. Despite changed conditions in America, the new immigrants endeavored...

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7. The Religious Spectrum

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pp. 140-162

Although Washington Heights Jewry was far from uniform, it tended to lean towards tradition in religion. The type of traditional Judaism found in the Washington Heights community was different than that found...

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8. The Immigrant Culture

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pp. 163-188

The differences in cultural style between German and eastern European Jews are frequently formulated in terms of stereotypes such as that in the quote at the beginning of the chapter. Though this stereotype is...

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9. Relations between the Generations

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pp. 189-211

Every immigrant community has gone through a process of modification as the second generation takes the place of the first. Because this transition in Washington Heights is still underway and because there...

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10. A "Changing Neighborhood"

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pp. 212-238

Beginning in the 1960s and intensifying in the 1970s, a crisis hit the German-Jewish community which thrust generational conflict into the background. This crisis was caused by large-scale demographic changes...

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11. Patterns of Ethnic Identity

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pp. 239-253

In her stimulating book German-Jewish Refugees in England, Marion Berghahn makes an important distinction between ethnic identity and the survival of ethnic cultural traits. "If one intends to determine...

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12. Reflections on Acculturation and Ethnic Survival

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pp. 254-264

The German Jews were part of American Jewry, but with their own distinct character, which made them a minority within a minority, or to put it another way, a subethnic group. The phenomenon of ethnicity is not exclusive to German...

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Methodological Essay

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pp. 265-269

In setting up the study, I had to grapple with two problems. One was the desire to undertake too ambitious a study, which would systematically cover all aspects of Washington Heights life in great depth. The other...


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pp. 270-329


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pp. 330-337


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pp. 338-347

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780814337516
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814323854

Page Count: 352
Illustrations: 24
Publication Year: 1989

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