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Jews in New Mexico Since World War II

Henry J. Tobias

Publication Year: 2008

Building on his earlier work, A History of the Jews in New Mexico, Henry Tobias incorporates new material and sources in this updated volume. He demonstrates how Jewish awareness in New Mexico following World War II gave rise to significant cultural and political influence, introducing writers, musicians, and such artists as Ira Moskowitz, Arthur Sussman, and Judy Chicago to the state's flourishing art scene.

Published by: University of New Mexico Press

Front Cover

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Title Page

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pp. iii


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pp. iv


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pp. v

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pp. vii-ix

My previous volume, A History of the Jews in New Mexico, which appeared in 1990, ended its historical coverage roughly in 1980. No special event occurred at that time to clearly demarcate that date as the end of an era. Publication considerations as to length, ready documentation—such as the...

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pp. xi-xii

The aid an author receives in producing a manuscript is sometimes not readily appreciated—often by those who provided assistance. As I have discovered, the closer a historical study comes to the present the more one comes to rely on persons who have lived through the era under description. ...

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1: Historical Background

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pp. 1-6

Modern Jewish settlement in New Mexico began with the American occupation and annexation in the last half of the 1840s in what is now known as the American Southwest. From that time until 1880 the Jewish arrivals were heavily Germanic (Ashkenazic) immigrants in origin and frequently related...

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2: Population Growth, 1940–2000

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pp. 7-17

One factor that contributed powerfully to change in New Mexico after World War II lay in its considerable population increase. From over a half-million in 1940, the last census prior to the war, its numbers doubled by 1970, the halfway point...

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3: Social and Economic Change

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pp. 18-35

For New Mexico, the war produced changes that dramatically altered its economic and social complexion. One early and strong component of those changes lay in the new purposes that the federal government introduced during the war and the continued and strengthened support of those purposes after the war. ...

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4: The Growth of Secular Organizations

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pp. 36-60

The earliest Jewish religious and social organizations came into existence in New Mexico in the 1880s—about forty years after the first Ashkenazic Jews settled in the new American territory. However, it was nearly a century after their original arrival before national secular organizations began to make a serious mark on the New Mexico Jewish population. ...

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5: Congregational Growth and Religious Change

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pp. 61-92

In 1940 a New Mexico Historical Records Survey prepared a “Directory of Churches and Religious Organizations in New Mexico.” Evidence of three Jewish congregations reached the directory’s researchers: Congregation Montefiore, founded in 1884 in Las Vegas but essentially dormant by 1940; Congregation Albert, founded in 1897 in Albuquerque; ...

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6: Interfaith Activity

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pp. 93-104

For all Jews, the end of World War II brought an increased sense of urgency. The Holocaust and the creation and survival of Israel formed the central foci for their new concerns. A number of Christian churches also chose to reconsider their attitudes and relationship toward Jews as a result of these events. Out of these conditions a whole new dimension of interaction between Jews and Christians arose.

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7: Issues

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pp. 105-124

Jews almost everywhere have faced problems throughout their history based on the fact of their religious distinction and small numbers. These factors have shaped the legal, economic, and social character of their lives. Their experience in the United States voided any legal disabilities but left them with a social distinctiveness. World War II raised their consciousness as to both the dangers and the hopes of their condition.

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8: The Jewish Presence

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pp. 125-142

The modest self-identification that characterized the behavior of the prewar Jews operated to obscure their presence. It was after World War II, as noted, that Jewish newcomers became aware of a Jewish past in New Mexico and served as the principal agents to bring it to light. The perceived new demands they made upon themselves in New Mexico, fostered by their new problems...

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Conclusions and Afterthoughts

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pp. 143

For Jewish residents living in New Mexico before World War II, as for all other New Mexicans, the changes brought about by the war must have been astonishing. How could they have conceived of a Los Alamos and what it brought in its wake! One could say the same for the Sandia Corporation or Kirtland Field...


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pp. 147-148


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pp. 149-164


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pp. 165-172

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780826344205
E-ISBN-10: 0826344208
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826344182
Print-ISBN-10: 0826344186

Page Count: 184
Illustrations: 22 halftones
Publication Year: 2008

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Jews -- New Mexico -- History -- 20th century.
  • Jews -- New Mexico -- History -- 21st century.
  • New Mexico -- Ethnic relations.
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