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City of Promises

A History of the Jews of New York, 3-volume box set

Deborah Dash Moore

Publication Year: 2012

Vol. I, Haven of Liberty, 2012 Runner-Up for the Dixon Ryan Manuscript Award presented by the New York Historical Association
 
New York Jews, so visible and integral to the culture, economy and politics of America's greatest city, has eluded the grasp of historians for decades. Surprisingly, no comprehensive history of New York Jews has ever been written. City of Promises: The History of the Jews in New York, a three volume set of original research, pioneers a path-breaking interpretation of a Jewish urban community at once the largest in Jewish history and most important in the modern world.
 
Volume I, Haven of Liberty, by historian Howard Rock, chronicles the arrival of the first Jews to New York (then New Amsterdam) in 1654and highlights their political and economic challenges. Overcoming significant barriers, colonial and republican Jews in New York laid the foundations for the development of a thriving community.
 
Volume II, Emerging Metropolis, written by Annie Polland and Daniel Soyer, describes New York's transformation into a Jewish city. Focusing on the urban Jewish built environment—its tenements and banks, synagogues and shops, department stores and settlement houses—it conveys the extraordinary complexity of Jewish immigrant society.
 
Volume III, Jews in Gotham, by historian Jeffrey S.Gurock, highlights neighborhood life as the city's distinctive feature. New York retained its preeminence as the capital of American Jews because of deep roots in local worlds that supported vigorous political, religious, and economic diversity.
 
Each volume includes a “visual essay” by art historian Diana Linden interpreting aspects of life for New York's Jews from their arrival until today. These illustrated sections, many in color, illuminate Jewish material culture and feature reproductions of early colonial portraits, art, architecture, as well as everyday culture and community.
 
Overseen by noted scholar Deborah Dash Moore, City of Promises offers the largest Jewish city in the world, in the United States, and in Jewish history its first comprehensive account.

Published by: NYU Press

Covers (Volumes 1, 2, and 3)

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Volume 1: Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Volume 1: Contents

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pp. ix-xxiv

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Volume 1: Foreword

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pp. xxv-xxiii

“[O]f all the big cities,” Sergeant Milton Lehman of the Stars and Stripes affirmed in 1945, “New York is still the promised land.”1 As a returning Jewish GI, Lehman compared New York with European cities. Other Jews also knew what New York offered that made it so desirable, even if they had not served overseas. First and...

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Volume 1: General Editor’s Acknowledgments

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pp. xxv-xxvi

All books are collaborative projects, but perhaps none more than this three-volume history of Jews in New York City. The eminent historians directly involved in the project, Jeff rey S. Gurock, Annie Polland, Howard Rock, Daniel Soyer, and art historian Diana L. Linden, have devoted their considerable skills not only to their...

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Volume 1: Author’s Acknowledgments

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pp. xxvii-xxviii

It is a pleasure to thank the many people who encouraged and assisted me in the writing of this book. At the outset of my academic career, some thirty-five years ago, I was intrigued with the question of Jewish neighborhood persistence and migration...

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Volume 1: Prologue: Neighborhood Dreams and Urban Promises

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pp. 1-8

Shoshana and Yoel Borgenicht believe deeply in the promises that New York City offers young Jews in the twenty-first century. They feel comfortable in their safe and secure neighborhood, where they are earning their livelihoods, raising their children, and living among Jews while sharing with others the best the metropolis...

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1 Building and Sustaining Common Ground

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pp. 9-38

New York had always been a walker’s city. Strollers loved passing friends on neighborhood avenues. Window shopping, a favored pastime, drew crowds during holiday seasons. Customers journeyed by foot in and out of stores across wide expanses of commercial districts in search of bargains. Residents and visitors enjoyed perambulating...

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2 Friends or Ideologues

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pp. 39-72

Born in 1928, Adolph Schayes grew up on Davidson Avenue and 183rd Street, off Fordham Road and near Jerome Avenue in the West Bronx. For “Dolph,” the son of Romanian immigrant parents, his neighborhood turf was the local asphalt-covered playgrounds. There he honed basketball skills that brought him honors at Mosholu...

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3 During Catastrophe and Triumph

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pp. 73-100

Jews of New York lived at the center where American Jewish responses emerged to the cataclysmic events that decimated their people in the decade of the Holocaust. Th eir location placed them in the midst of decisions leading to the rise of the State of Israel. More than any community in America, New York was the hub...

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4 Élan of a Jewish City

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pp. 101-126

Jewish GI Eddie Zwern grew up on the Grand Concourse, but World War II found him stationed briefly in California en route to the Pacific theater. Zwern discovered a new land of promise in a sun-bathed milieu far removed from the harsh New York winters of his youth. He vowed to return should he survive military...

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5 Crises and Contention

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pp. 127-150

When Molly Berg wanted America to feel the vibrancy of New York Jewish neighborhood life, she projected 1038 East Tremont Avenue as the quintessential windows-open, door-unlocked, Bronx apartment-house community. Helen Lazarcheck, who really lived in that area, felt that warm embrace. “Everyone seemed...

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6 Amid Decline and Revival

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pp. 151-184

With the eyes of millions of viewers coast-to-coast on the screen watching the second game of the World Series, commentator Howard Cosell looked beyond the diamond to the view outside Yankee Stadium: “Ladies and gentlemen,” he announced in his acerbic fashion, “The Bronx is burning!” A controversial Jewish sports commentator who saw himself as a transcendent social critic, Cosell prided...

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7 Renewed Activism

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pp. 185-210

When Congresswoman Bella Abzug ran for mayor in 1977, she understood the frustrations her generation of New York Jews felt toward their native city’s faltering promises. To a great extent, she shared their values and experiences. A child of the working class, she had earned her labor bona fides Saturdays at her father’s...

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Epilogue: In a New Millennium

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pp. 211-222

At the turn of the millennium, New York Jews exuded confidence about their place in the city. Despite decades of economic distress and racial conflict, Gotham appeared poised to fulfill its promises once again. Young Jewish professionals participated actively in neighborhood gentrification, both in Manhattan...

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Visual Essay: An Introduction to the Visual and Material Culture of New York City Jews, 1920–2010

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pp. 223-254

In 2005, German-born Jewish photographer Julian Voloj went searching for architectural elements, historical objects, and urban ruins that hinted at traces of New York City’s rich Jewish heritage that had become obscured over time. He sought to create a visual catalog of what had been and what still exists today. Voloj assigns...

Volume 1 Notes

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pp. 255-290

Volume 1 Bibliography

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pp. 291-306

Volume 1 Index

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pp. 307-326

Volume 1 About the Author

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pp. 327-

Volume II Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Volume II Contents

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pp. ix-

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Volume II Foreword

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pp. xi-xxiv

“[O]f all the big cities,” Sergeant Milton Lehman of the Stars and Stripes affirmed in 1945, “New York is still the promised land.”1 As a returning Jewish GI, Lehman compared New York with European cities. Other Jews also knew what New York offered that made it so desirable, even if they had not served overseas. First...

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Volume II General Editor’s Acknowledgments

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pp. xxv-xxvi

All books are collaborative projects, but perhaps none more than this three-volume history of Jews in New York City. The eminent historians directly involved in the project, Jeffrey S. Gurock, Annie Polland, Howard Rock, Daniel Soyer, and art historian Diana L. Linden, have devoted their considerable skills not only...

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Volume II Authors’ Acknowledgments

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pp. xxvii-

Th anks are due, first of all, to our colleagues on the City of Promises team: Deborah Dash Moore, Howard Rock, Jeff rey Gurock, Diana Linden, and, of course, Jennifer Hammer of NYU Press. All helped keep the project on track and gave valuable advice on the manuscript. Without the research assistance of Katie Rosenblatt...

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Introduction: The Emerging Jewish Metropolis

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pp. 1-10

On April 10, 1906, 160 detained eastern European Jewish immigrants gathered in the Great Hall of the immigration center at Ellis Island for a Passover seder, the traditional ceremonial meal that commemorates the flight of the children of Israel from Egyptian slavery. Alexander Harkavy, a member of a delegation of...

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1 Neighborhood Networks

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pp. 11-44

In the middle of the nineteenth century, European and American visitors to New York knew to stop by Chatham Street, a commercial district just to the northeast of City Hall, at the base of the Bowery. So characteristic of New York with its commercial hustle and bustle, Chatham Street’s ramshackle storefronts and frenzied...

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2 “Radical Reform”: Union through Charity

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pp. 45-72

In the late 1880s, Rebekah Bettelheim Kohut typically started her day at home on Beekman Place, a quaint two-block stretch of four-story brownstones between Forty-Ninth and Fifty-First Streets. Kohut described these houses as “a little world in themselves. High up above the East River, and seemingly cut off from the...

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3 Moorish Manhattan

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pp. 73-491

On December 14, 1870, close to five hundred New Yorkers — Christians and Jews alike — mounted a makeshift platform on Lexington Avenue and Fifty- Fifth Street. “Adorned with flags,” the platform covered a construction site for what was to become congregation Ahawath Chesed’s new synagogue. The December sun shone...

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4 Immigrant Citadels: Tenements, Shops, Stores, and Streets

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pp. 103-136

Th ough no one could trace the rumor’s origins, by the aft ernoon of Wednesday, December 11, 1901, the devastating news had been repeated by thousands of lips. It gathered a force of its own, wending its way through the Hester Street pushcart market, across tenement airshafts, from one stoop to the next, and up into the...

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5 Capital of the Jewish World

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pp. 137-172

In 1918, the Kehillah (Jewish Community) of New York City published the Jewish Communal Register, a massive 1,597-page compendium of Jewish organizational life in the five boroughs. To compile the organizational directories at the heart of the Register, a cadre of male Jewish student census takers of “good appearance, personality and . . . knowledge of things Jewish” traversed one hundred...

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6 Jews at the Polls: The Rise of the Jewish Style in New York Politics

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pp. 173-206

Even before the polls closed on Election Day 1914, people began to stream from all corners of the Lower East Side toward the building of the Yiddish-language Jewish Daily Forward towering over East Broadway. By nightfall, crowds filled Rutgers Square and Seward Park and flowed into the surrounding side streets. Those...

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7 Jews and New York Culture

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pp. 207-244

On any day in 1905, any number of well-dressed, neatly groomed men — prosperous bankers, businessmen, and professionals — could be found in the sumptuous club rooms at 45 West Forty-Second Street. Depending on the day of the week and time of day, they might be reading in the library, smoking in one of the lounges...

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Conclusion: The Jewish Metropolis at the End of the Immigrant Era

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pp. 245-254

By 1920, New York’s Jews numbered over 1.6 million, making the city the greatest Jewish metropolis of all time.1 But New York Jewry’s growth had been fueled by a massive, nearly century-long wave of immigration that diminished suddenly to a trickle, at first temporarily when World War I obstructed paths of migration...

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Visual Essay: An Introduction to the Visual and Material Culture of New York City Jews, 1840–1920

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pp. 255-288

What can a mass-produced postcard tell us about New York City Jewish life? In the late nineteenth century, concurrent with the great exodus of eastern European Jews to the United States, postcard designers and printers created a niche market targeting Jewish consumers, in particular women, offering a range of illustrated cards...

Volume II Notes

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pp. 289-324

Volume II Bibliography

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pp. 325-340

Volume II Index

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pp. 341-364

Volume II About the Authors

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pp. 365-

Volume III Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Volume III Contents

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pp. ix-

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Volume III Foreword

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pp. xi-xxiv

“[O]f all the big cities,” Sergeant Milton Lehman of the Stars and Stripes affirmed in 1945, “New York is still the promised land.”1 As a returning Jewish GI, Lehman compared New York with European cities. Other Jews also knew what New York offered that made it so desirable, even if they had not served overseas. First and...

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Volume III General Editor’s Acknowledgments

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pp. xxv-xxvi

All books are collaborative projects, but perhaps none more than this three-volume history of Jews in New York City. The eminent historians directly involved in the project, Jeffrey S. Gurock, Annie Polland, Howard Rock, Daniel Soyer, and art historian...

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Volume III Author’s Acknowledgments

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pp. xxvii-

One of the pleasurable tasks of writing a book is the opportunity to acknowledge the many people who helped make this volume possible. Th e College of Arts and Sciences of Florida International University, where I am now Professor Emeritus, and the then chair of the History Department, Mark Szuchman, supported...

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Volume III Introduction

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pp. 1-4

In the late summer and early fall of 1654, twenty-three Dutch Jews huddled together on the French ship St. Catrina, suffering the rolling waves of the North Atlantic while praying that they not fall victim to an early season hurricane. They were one of the last contingents of Dutch Jewish settlers to leave the Dutch colony of Recife...

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1 A Dutch Beginning

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pp. 5-24

On a sultry early August morning in 1492 at the port of Huelva in southern Spain, Christopher Columbus sailed on the first of three epic voyages. On those same docks, a resident might have viewed hundreds of Spanish Jews, part of the 150,000 expelled from the kingdoms...

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2 A Merchant Community

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pp. 25-42

During the seventeenth century, the British and Dutch, so close in religious leaning, parliamentary maturity, commercial entrepreneurship, and imperial ambition, entered into wars over dominion of the Americas, particularly the Caribbean. The American coastline from Massachusetts to South Carolina housed a series of British colonies...

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3 A Synagogue Community

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pp. 43-70

In 1682, under English rule, New York’s Jews began to gather for private religious services. (The mayor and Common Council banned public worship until 1691.) The return of British rule in 1691 following Leisler’s Rebellion opened public worship to the...

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4 The Jewish Community and the American Revolution

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pp. 71-92

In 1760, the 250 Jews in New York City were, like most colonists, patriotic citizens of the British Empire and proud of the recent military conquest of Canada in the French and Indian War. Yet between 1765 and 1775, the majority of the Jewish community, like their Christian counterparts, turned from loyal Britons to rebellious...

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5 The Jewish Community of Republican New York

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pp. 93-112

When Washington took his oath, six years after British troops evacuated the city, New York’s population had reached 33,000, of whom around 350 were Jews, slightly more than 1 percent. By 1810, the city’s population had grown to over 96,000, but the Jewish population...

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6 A Republican Faith

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pp. 113-136

Shearith Israel resumed services immediately after the British evacuation, but its future course was in doubt. The concept of the synagogue-community was incompatible with a republican society in which Jews no longer had to seclude themselves around a plainly constructed sanctuary. Could their synagogue redefine itself to remain central...

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7 New York’s Republican Rabbi and His Congregation

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pp. 137-150

Born in New York of an obscure merchant, Gershom Seixas, under the influence of Hazan Joseph Jeshurun Pinto, gravitated to the synagogue from an early age, becoming hazan in 1768, when he was only twenty-two. Except for the war years in Philadelphia, he served until his death in 1816. During his tenure, Seixas led daily...

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8 Beyond the Synagogue in Antebellum New York

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pp. 151-180

When Isaac Mayer Wise, the future leader of the Reform movement in America, disembarked in New York in 1846, he recalled witnessing “such rushing, hurrying, chasing, running,” the likes of which he had never seen before. The culture of this “large village” did not impress him. The source of his displeasure stemmed from New...

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9 Division, Display, Devotion, and Defense: The Synagogue in Antebellum New York

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pp. 181-204

While a great deal of Jewish communal and personal life took place beyond the synagogues in the antebellum era, these venerable institutions remained viable and ever more visible, even if their significance and their role in Jewish life were far more limited than in...

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10 The Challenge of Reform

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pp. 205-226

While architecturally graceful and opulent sanctuaries announced the growing standing of the city’s Jews, congregations played a diminished spiritual role among the Jewish population. Threadbare attendance at weekly and daily services presaged serious problems. Antebellum New York was not colonial or even republican New York...

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11 Politics, Race, and the Civil War

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pp. 227-254

Antebellum New York politics, volatile and passionate in the 1850s, reached its tensest moments in the years prior to the Civil War. The city was a stronghold of the Democratic Party. Its earlier and still most popular champion, Andrew Jackson, drew a crowd of over one hundred thousand when he visited New York in 1833; Democrats...

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Conclusion

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pp. 255-260

Early in this book, I noted that it would have been inconceivable for one of the twenty-three poor Jewish immigrants from Recife living in the lonely community of New Amsterdam in 1654 to envision that this company outpost would ultimately grow to a city of eight million and a Jewish population of over two million. It...

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Visual Essay: An Introduction to the Visual and Material Culture of New York City Jews, 1654–1865

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pp. 261-298

Jews have long been referred to as the “People of the Book,” signifying the importance of ongoing study and interpretation of the Torah. For scholars of both Jewish history and American history, the written word is also central, with such documents as letters, cemetery records, and membership records of burial societies...

Volume III Notes

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pp. 299-344

Volume III Select Bibliography

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pp. 345-350

Volume III Index

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pp. 351-369

Volume III About the Author

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pp. 370-


E-ISBN-13: 9780814729328
E-ISBN-10: 0814717314
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814717318

Page Count: 1108
Publication Year: 2012