June 18, 2017 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm #1298633
1) Anyone here a Jewish American Pilgrim?
2) Did you or your ancestors immigrate to the US to observe Judaism because of religious oppression in your or your ancestor’s previous homeland?
3) Do you consider the Jews who came to the US after/during WWII and/or after the fall of the Soviet Union pilgrims?
4) What waves of Jewry came to the US specifically for the opportunity to rightfully observe Yiddishkeit?
Thank you ☺June 18, 2017 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm #1298649
My family were the Jewish passengers on the Mayflower.June 19, 2017 12:11 am at 12:11 am #1298650
Real fully Torah true observant Jews didn’t come to America in great numbers until the runup to WWII, and especially in the aftermath of WWII.
Prior to WWI the state of American Judaism was very religiously poor and bereft of much real rabbonim.June 19, 2017 2:22 am at 2:22 am #1298681
I don’t think frum Jews came to America in order to be able to be frum- in fact it was the opposite, until about mid twentieth-century, the likelihood of staying frum in America was much smaller than becoming not-frum. In Europe, one could be frum if one chose, the issues were poverty, persecution, induction to the army, wars and destruction, and of course, genocide, which is what drove people to come to America despite the spiritual risks.
Russian Jews, although they could not practice their religion in the former USSR, by the time they were freed, most knew so little about their religion that it was unfortunately no longer a factor. There were some individuals (refuseniks) who did try to be frum in the USSR and learn about Judaism, were persecuted for it, and wished to leave. I think most of those went to E”Y though, not America.
Perhaps the only population that does fit that description are Iranian Jews after the fall of the Shah. Although, again, many were very weak in their Judaism by that point.
I’m not sure I like the reference to Pilgrims though- first of all, they are a Protestant Christian sect, you can’t be Jewish and a Pilgrim. Second, while they left England so that they could practice their own religion, which did not follow the Church of England, they were not tolerant of other religions once they established their own settlement in the colonies. So it would be ironic to equate Pilgrims with freedom of religion.June 19, 2017 8:28 am at 8:28 am #1298685
Spoken like a greenhorn………………..
There was NO mass migration of frum Jews to the US in the run-up to WWII. They were blocked by the changes in immigration laws of 1924.
Far more non-frum, than frum Jews arrived as refugees after WWII and they were more than happy to take the economic help provided by agencies/groups established by non-frum American Jews such as HIAS and B’Nai B’rith.
My maternal side arrived in the US in the 1860s, they came for economic opportunity reasons…my great-great grandfather was sought out in Germany for his particular manufacturing and management skills.
My paternal side came in 1872 from the Pale of Settlement. They were proactive Jewish Pilgrims. Although living in a very frum-Jewish area, they reacted to the Odessa Pogroms of 1871 and the fear that pogroms would spread throughout the Russian Empire. My great-great grandmother’s letters back to the old country (which were used in visa applications by other relatives) explained this fear.
Joseph and many newcomers (defined in my family as those who entered via Ellis Island–we old timers arrived at Castle Garden in Mnahattan) perpetrate this revisionist history that the US was a frum wasteland before WWII. Yes, Jews could easily go OTD, but that happened in Europe as well…especially in the western lands such as Germany with the rise of the Reform movement. Rabbonim were imported, shuls and yeshivos were started in the US. This was mostly the misnagid community. Chassidim were loathe to leave their geographically based dynasty courts. There was no chance of being appointed ‘chief rabbi’ of a city or area in the US. With freedom of religion, the government did not need to have official contact with these rebbes running insular communities of Jewish residents with limited rights.
I come from a long line of misnagdim, but in the 1930s, 40s and 50s they did all in their power to apply political pressure in the US to allow in more Jewish refugees from Europe and sponsor them economically. There was no differentiation by American Jews between frum and non-frum Jews when trying to rescue Jews from the shoah.June 19, 2017 9:46 am at 9:46 am #1298749
Fact: Most frum Jews who left Europe between the 1700s and WWII to come to America were no longer frum by time they passed away in America. Their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have a strong possibility of not even knowing they’re Jewish. Most intermarried.
Fact: There were very very few rabbonim in America prior to WWI. Indeed, many shuls were led by laymen without having a rabbi. Even shuls with a rabbi, more often than not said rabbi knew precious little.June 19, 2017 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm #1298959
Inventing Facts with no backup…Alternative Facts like Trump
I am one of 972 observant descendants of a frum couple who arrived in NY back in 1872
I grew up in New Haven, which had a long tradition of learned Rabbis leading congregations and yeshivos/day schools since the 1890s
Not all learned rabbis came from Europe. RIETS started training American rabbis back in 1896…they may now be too far left for your taste, but were frum back then.
Lots of Frum Jews in Europe had descendants that were no longer frum by the 1930s..this is not solely an American occurrence..June 19, 2017 1:10 pm at 1:10 pm #1298981
CTL, nowhere did I say the point was 100% universal. I specifically stated there were exceptions. Such as your noble family.June 19, 2017 1:10 pm at 1:10 pm #1298975
In your first “FACT” you end off “Most intermarried.”
Is this referring to the line preceding it i.e. that ” most [of] …thier children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren” intermarried or the opening ” Most frum Jews who left Europe.. intermarried.”
Either way Im curious as to your source. while Sadly most recent data indicates an intermarriage rate of 58% which can be characterized as “most” as recently aS 1990 it was “only” at 40% which is obviously not “most”
(i’ll grant that this number includes many Jews who arrived (or ancestors did) mmore recently) But I find it surprisng that “most children ” of those who arrived, let alone they themselves intermarried.June 19, 2017 1:32 pm at 1:32 pm #1299160
ubiq, I meant the later generations not the original immigrants. Thanks for asking for clarification.
58% includes all Jews, including Orthodox who have close to a 0% intermarriage rate. The non-Orthodox rate was over 70% 10+ years ago. The non-Orthodox was over 50% many decades ago.June 19, 2017 1:32 pm at 1:32 pm #1299159
Joseph like to present his views as facts, no back upJune 19, 2017 4:10 pm at 4:10 pm #1299555
I think it is reasonable to say Most descendants of those who immigrated pre WW2 intermarry. (not all!)
IT is probably hard to provide data, but that doesnt seem as surprising as the way I mistakingly understood his FACT at first.June 19, 2017 4:49 pm at 4:49 pm #1299551
Growing up, I read *Molly’s Pilgrim* by Barbara Cohen — and may have even completed a book report on it at my very public elementary school.
From what I remember (and gathered on Amazon), it’s about a Russian Jewish immigrant, Molly, who discovered that she’s a modern pilgrim as she comes to terms with her identity here in the new world.
She even has a Yiddish accent! – I didn’t remember that detail from my childhood, but I did remember learning in school that the pilgrims came to America to practice their religion — and what mattered was their reason for coming here, not what religion they observed.
Thanks !June 19, 2017 6:05 pm at 6:05 pm #1299601
1. There were no Jews in Massachusettes. It was officially Judenrein until the revolution (as were most of the American colonies). The only New England colony that tolerated religious minorities was Rhode Island, and toleration did not include full civil rights, merely not being kicked out.
2. Pre-holocaust immigrants were not seeking religious freedom. In all fairness, the Europeans we lived under weren’t objecting to putting on tefillin or keeping Shabbos. Economic and political freedom was the issue in that period. Immigrants from the Soviet Union pre-WWII largely had a religious motivation, but there weren’t many of them. Post-war hareidi immigrants were often motivated by a desire for religious freedom since many perceived that as lacking is Medinat Yisrael.June 19, 2017 6:05 pm at 6:05 pm #1299590
The website hebrewbooks.org and their long catalogue of seforim authored by american rabbonim indicates that there were very many high caliber talmidei chachamim in america100, even 125 years ago.June 19, 2017 6:21 pm at 6:21 pm #1299616
APY, try making a grand total of all such American based authors over the 200 year prewar period. Let us know the exact number of such high caliber talmidei chachamim mechabe seforim over 200 years. (Recall, everyone agreed it is above zero.)June 19, 2017 6:21 pm at 6:21 pm #1299615
Joseph the millions of Jews who emigrated Eastern Europe were for the most part frum. After the assassination of Czar Alexander, the pogroms became so horrific that Jews could no longer bear it. Defying the Gedolim, they began to flee in increasing numbers. The error the Gedolim made was in believing that Eastern Europe would remain a haven for frum Jews.June 19, 2017 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm #1299669
shuls and yeshivos were started in the US.
Which yeshivos (aside from RIETS) were started in the US before 1930?
(Not challenging you, just curious.)June 19, 2017 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm #1299713
wiki says torah vadaas was concieved 1917. Wiki says chaim berlin was 1904. Those i know of cud be moreJune 19, 2017 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm #1299714
Chaim Berlin dates back to 1904. Torah Vodaath is pre-1930. There was a yeshiva in New Haven starting in the late teens or early 1920’s.June 20, 2017 12:27 am at 12:27 am #1299735
Yeshiva of Brooklyn, too.
But there were precious few yeshivos in prewar America, as most Jewish kids went to pubic school. And most were lost to yiddishkeit forever.June 20, 2017 6:12 am at 6:12 am #1299765
Which yeshivos (aside from RIETS) were started in the US before 1930?
1886 – JTS *
1900 – Mosdos Ohr Hatorah
1903 – Rabbi Jacob Joseph School
1904 – Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin
1907 – Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem
1917 – Yeshiva Torah Vodaas
1922 – Hebrew Theological College
1927 – Yeshivah of Flatbush
* I wasn’t sure whether to include JTS in this list but at the time of its founding it was Orthodox.
What happened to my signature line?June 20, 2017 8:11 am at 8:11 am #1299776
I see others answered before I saw your post.
There was a yeshiva started in my hometown of New Haven prior to 1920 and it operated for several decades, it was followed by others over the years.
Unfortunately, one of the current Yeshivos in New Haven is mired in scandal and has lost its student body and almost all faculty, while the other has continued to expand and grow.
New Haven had Jewish settlers in Colonial Times and a synagogue chartered by the State of Connecticut in 1840…all religious institutions in CT had to receive charters from the state until the first quarter of the 20th century. It was a center of Jewish learning in the early 20th century as a successful orthodox merchant and manufacturing class wanted to provide the best for their sons, they imported and supported rabbonim, melamdim, shotchim, sofrim, etc. and funded the construction of Jewish institutions. In addition to the yeshiva, a Home for the aged and an orphanage were established in the nineteen teens.June 20, 2017 8:13 am at 8:13 am #1299785
CTL, I’m sure you must’ve seen or been made aware of the cover story in last week’s Hamodia /Inyan magazine about the Shapiro family in New Haven. I have started reading it, and thought of you. Considering that, as far as we know, this may be your family, so without giving anything away; do you know this family? Have you got any nice stories about them?June 20, 2017 9:01 am at 9:01 am #1299822
CTL, your family is a shining exception. The Ridbaz, in fact, left Chicago declaring that Judaism would never take hold in America (on the other hand, the main claim of Mordechai Kaplan was that mitzvot such as Shabbat and kashrut had to be “relaxed” so that Jews could make a place for themselves) .
Sweatshops had signs “If you don’t come in on Sat don’t come in on Mon”. Until Torah uMasora was established after WW2 there were no day schools (all of the yeshivot you cite were for older boys – there was nothing for girls) and then they faced enormous opposition from parents who wanted their kids to be “Americans”). Everyone went to public schools, which were bastions of conservatism but also places for inculcating Xtian values. Even when I went to public school in the Sixties there was singing of religious songs near Dec 25 (I was able to get away with not singing by virtue of the fact that there were enough kids to enable me to hide in the crowd).
It should also be noted that merely coming to America at the time was often a rebellion against the rabbinic establishment as only the strongest received heterim. Their children very quickly through off everything. For example, a survey of Brownsville, Brooklyn (then an almost completely Jewish neighborhood) in 1940 showed that only 9% of the Jews went to shul regularly (Jews in Gotham p. 54). The growing discrimination against Jews in employment certainly hastened this trend. It was hard enough for a secular jew to get a good job. In fact, despite being at the top of his class in Harvard Nat Lewin was rejected by a series of firms when he brought up Shabbat. Finally he did what many others did and went into government service before opening his own firm.June 20, 2017 9:14 am at 9:14 am #1299838
I know the Shapiro family, we are not related
My family moved to New Haven in 1952 just before my birth. They had lived in NY since the 1860s
The Shapiros were well known in the community, but we lived in a different neighborhood and belonged to different shuls. I met the patriarch in about 1970 when I was fixed up with a tenant in their 3 family house and she was not allowed to go out with me until Mr. and Mrs. Shapiro met me and approved. we didn’t hit it off, (as a side note to you..her cousin was Chazan in Durban in the late 70s).June 20, 2017 9:47 am at 9:47 am #1299846
Hate to burst your bubble, but this is NOT true:
“Until Torah uMasora was established after WW2 there were no day schools (all of the yeshivot you cite were for older boys – there was nothing for girls)”
The New Haven Hebrew Day School (now Southern CT Hebrew Academy) started classes in 1944
My brother-in-law’s eldest sister was enrolled in the first class. his next older sister and he attended through 8th grade. He went on to a yeshiva in NY, and last June he retired after a career as a pulpit rabbi in Massachusetts.
Over the years, that school had a boys high school which closed, but has had a girls high school since the 1960s in continuous operation.June 20, 2017 9:47 am at 9:47 am #1299880
The Torah world in America today stands on the shoulders of Rav Moshe Feinstein, the Satmar Rebbe and Rav Aharon Kotler, who essentially built it up almost from scratch.June 20, 2017 9:58 am at 9:58 am #1299932
dont forget Rav Mendlowitz.June 20, 2017 9:58 am at 9:58 am #1299930
There were many talmidei chachamin in the US 125 years ago. america was not a spiritual wasteland. the r problem was chinuch for the next generation(s). for the most part it wasnt on the radar screen of the majority of immigrants who came for economic opportunities. we see the sad results.June 20, 2017 10:35 am at 10:35 am #1299968
again, while I mentioned New Haven, you can’t ignore the Maimonides School, founded by The Rav (J.B. Soliveitchik) way back in 1937…still serving Jewish boys and girls 80 years later/
Many would argue that a large part of the Torah world also stands on the shoulders of Rav J.B. Soliveitchik. YU was not always as ‘liberal’ as it is now.June 20, 2017 11:06 am at 11:06 am #1300050
CTL, true but RJS had to fight fiercely to get students.June 20, 2017 11:43 am at 11:43 am #1300078
No on said it was easy, it does however continue to disprove your statement that there were no day schools in he US prior to WWII and that they did not serve girls
Members of my extended family have attended both day schools I mentioned in CT and Mass.
BTW, in my father’s generation (born 1920) day schools, elementary Yeshivos were not considered so important, the kids went to public schools and learned Torah from 2:30 on and Sundays with private tutors. In my father’s case he learned/was taught by his paternal grandfather who was educated at Brisk in what is now Belarus. My great great grandfather had a storefront school on 15th Ave Boro Park from 1925 until his death in 1938. Most of the students attended public school in the morning. They went on to a year or 2 of full time Yeshiva after high school then college and professions or business. They became successful enough to help found the modern day schools of the post WWII eraJune 20, 2017 5:01 pm at 5:01 pm #1301028
Avi K, Torah Vodaath started out as an elementary school.June 20, 2017 5:02 pm at 5:02 pm #1301045
For the record my family has been in this country since before WW I and my Wifes family as well.
A side note JTS and YU almost merged twice, The first time it was real close and Im not sure why it failed. At the time their Hasghfa was similar and JTS even threw out Mordechai Kaplan for his PhilosophiesJune 20, 2017 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm #1301151
The Agudas Harrabonim supported RIETS until they introduced secular studies. The Agudas Harabbonim saw in RIETS a counterforce against the Conservative JTS. In 1906 the Agudas Harrabonim helped create a smicha board in RIETS, publicly denouncing the rabbis who graduated from JTS.
But the new “American social-economic order” struck, as the students demanded secular studies in RIETS. The board of directors was undecided about whether to concede. But pressure mounted, and in 1908 the board expelled 15 students for going to secular schools during time allotted for religious studies. This spurred a student strike. Many students left the school. Resulting financial pressure and bad publicity caused RIETS to compromise their principles and after three weeks, they caved in. They reaccepted the 15 expelled students and instituted a secular curriculum. As time passed, the secularization of RIETS accelerated, due to various influences. Harry Fischel, a philanthropist, became vice president of RIETS in 1908. He was bent on step up the secularization of the institution. In 1915, with the completion of the new RIETS building, Fischel made a speech stating that his goal is to “unite Orthodox Judaism and Americanism”. The Agudas HaRabbonim were not happy.June 21, 2017 1:27 am at 1:27 am #1301188
CTL, I did not write that there were absolutely none. There were a handful but it was a drop in the bucket. The fact of the matter is that while at the time of the Great Immigration the vast majority of East European Jews were observant for the vast majority Shabbat observance went out the window already in the first generation for economic reasons. There were even vatikin minyanim on Shabbat for people who went to work! The second generation through out most of the rest but remained culturally Jewish because of the spread of discrimination. This was answered by Jewish fraternities and sororities, Jewish neighborhoods and Jewish business firms (also new merit-based civil service rules made some public offices Jewish-dominated). The third and generation did not keep anything but still generally married within the group Now that is also out. This has been compared to the four sons. The chacham is the immigrant, the rasha is his son who wanted to be American and throw off “foreign ways”, the simple is his son who does not know very much except for what little he heard from his grandfather, the son who does not know how to ask is his son who is totally ignorant Jewish and now there is a fifth son who is not even present.
Joseph, actually “Torah uMadda” is an extension “Torah im Derech Eretz”. In fact, the Hildesheimer Rabbinic Academy in Berlin required the equivalent of an academic HS diploma and students also studied in the university. Amongthem were Rav Soloveichik and the last Lubavitcher rebbe (who woirked as an electrical engineer in the Bklyn navy Yard before becoming the rebbe).June 21, 2017 8:56 am at 8:56 am #1301201
DIRECT COPY AND PASTE OF YOUR WORDS:
“Until Torah uMasora was established after WW2 there were no day schools …”
What about ‘NO’ means a few?
NO means NONE, it would be far more acceptable for you to simply admit that information has been provided to disprove your claim than to try to change the meaning of the word.
BTW….there were many “frum” Jews who attended government schools in major cities such as Vilna or a Gymnasium in Germany. Where admitted, some also attended University..examples include the late Lubavitcher Rebbe and Rav J.B Soleveitchik.
Every sthetl didn’t have a yeshiva, often the average youngster have a couple of years at a cheder and then worked on the family farm or in their trade. Hundreds of thousands were so poor they needed every source of income and only the brightest were sent off to yeshiva for an education. If life was so great in the alte heim, many of million Eastern European frum Yidden would not have sacrificed so much to reach the Goldene medinaH (USA).June 21, 2017 9:40 am at 9:40 am #1301274
Many jews who did not go to the Goldena Medina left the Shtel for the big cities as well. Places like Vienna and Warsaw became large jewish cities fairly quickly. Jews were not really even allowed in Vienna until about 1850, and it was almost 200,000 by 1939June 21, 2017 10:27 am at 10:27 am #1301349
I am aware of migration patterns
Many could not afford the passage all the way to America
Many could not get visas for the US
Many who lived in the eastern fringes of the Austro-Hungarian Empire headed for the capital, Vienna
My eldest SIL is a child of a father born in Vienna to parents who migrated their from southern Poland which was ruled by the Habsburgs/ The parents had been refused an American visa. SIL’s mother was born in Warsaw, but was lucky enough to get a visa for the US in 1923 before the immigration shutdown of 1924.
Warsaw had a higher percentage of observant Jews than Vienna, which had many adherents of the German Reform movement.
BUT, in the 1930s when the Germans moved in all Jews were considered the sameJune 21, 2017 10:54 am at 10:54 am #1301434
Actually most jews in Warsaw were Bundist, meaning Socialist, Non-Zionistic wanting equal right in Poland
It was the Bund who was really behind the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, but other joined laterJune 21, 2017 1:09 pm at 1:09 pm #1301547
CTL, OK, OK. There were almost no day schools. I guess if you would be alone in a room you would not tell someone on your cell phone that nobody is there.
ZD, not correct about the Bund. Anilevitz, Zuckerman and Lubetkin were HaShomer HaTzair. Pawel Frenkel of the Jewish Military Organization was a Beitarnik.June 21, 2017 2:09 pm at 2:09 pm #1301648
Lawyers know that it is important to be precise in speech and written words.
If I were alone in a room and speaking to someone on my phone, I might say that there is nobody else in the room with me. I would not say nobody is there(here), because I am somebody.June 21, 2017 2:15 pm at 2:15 pm #1301659
Marek Edelman was a BundistJune 22, 2017 2:27 am at 2:27 am #1302188
CTL, what about weasel words (e.g. “effective”, “constructive”) or the famous, non-existent “reasonable man”. In fact, George C. Christie wrote an article in the Duke U Law Review titled Vagueness and Legal Language and Timothy A. O. Endicott wrote a book called Vagueness in Law that argue that vagueness is the Law’s stock in trade.
What about saying that nobody goes to a certain restaurant because it is too crowded? LOL (BTW, for what it is worth Yogi passed away on Yom Kippur night).June 22, 2017 6:24 am at 6:24 am #1302200
I do my best not to use ‘weasel words’ and other non-concrete legalese. I was an early proponent of the move for all legal documents to be written in simple English, that is easy to understand by most Americans. This is especially important in my practice of family law.
Being too vague is grounds for a law/regulation to be found unconstitutional.
Mr. Berra was known for his butchering of the English language. He was a fine person with a great heart. As a child I enjoyed watching him play for the Yankees.June 22, 2017 9:53 am at 9:53 am #1302273
Don’t blame him. Yogi never said half the things he said.June 22, 2017 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm #1302412
CTl, I would have thought that as a New Englander you would be a Red Sox fan.
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