Immigrant and Ethnic History Term Paper

Pages: 12 (3310 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Family and Marriage

¶ … Jews left Russia and Eastern Europe to come to the United States. How is the impetus for Jewish immigration different from that of the Irish, Japanese and Chinese? Describe obstacles faced by Jewish immigrants in their efforts to assimilate themselves into the fabric of American national life.

As the world continues to globalize a blending of cultures has also begun, however there was a time in American history when immigrants flocked to America to begin new lives, even though it meant leaving their culture and traditions behind. Throughout American history there have been influxes of various populations that fled from their homeland when political or religious issues arose.

Years ago America received many Jewish immigrants who fled Russia in fear of their lives and livelihoods. At the time it was referred to as a mass migration and involved millions of Jewish people fleeing across the ocean to reach American soil.

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Just as ethnic Russians and Poles were finding their way to American shores, one of the most dramatic chapters in world history was underway -- the mass migration of Eastern European Jews to the United States. In a few short decades, from 1880 to 1920, a vast number of the Jewish people living in the lands ruled by Russia -- including Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Ukraine, as well as neighboring regions -- moved en masse to the U.S. In so doing, they left a centuries-old legacy behind, and changed the culture of the United States profoundly (a People at Risk (http://memory.loc.gov/learn/features/immig/alt/polish5.html)."

For the years leading up to that period the Jewish population had played an important role in Russia and the rest of Eastern Europe.

When the 19th century arrived however they found themselves in serious danger of becoming destroyed in that part of the world.

Term Paper on Immigrant and Ethnic History Assignment

Of all the ethnic and national groups that lived under the rule of the Russian czars, the Eastern European Jews had long been the most isolated and endured the harshest treatment (a People at Risk (http://memory.loc.gov/learn/features/immig/alt/polish5.html)."

Those who wanted to rid the world of Jewish people worked to illuminate the language, culture and tradition differences between the Jewish community and others who resided in the area.

Russia also began to pass and enforce rules and laws that were designed to brutalize the Jewish population.

As time moved forward the Jewish population found themselves completely isolated both in physical and mental aspects of life in Russia. Consequently many of them stopped considering themselves to be Russian by birth and instead decided they were simply Jewish with no homeland to claim. As a people they were forced to endure lives in what amounted to Ghetto housing (a People at Risk (http://memory.loc.gov/learn/features/immig/alt/polish5.html).They were not afforded the opportunity or ability to better their lives regardless of their efforts.

There were Russian laws in place that prohibited the Jewish people from working in anything but the lowest positions and for the lowest wages and they were often times barred from even those positions. They were not only subjected to random attacks of violence by angry non-Jewish residents but also by Imperial officers who had the government's support in those attacks (a People at Risk (http://memory.loc.gov/learn/features/immig/alt/polish5.html).There came a point where it was not safe to be Jewish in Russia and the exodus began.

For some time the Jewish who were persecuted tried to defend themselves as a society. The government however, had other ideas and began false rumors about Jewish residents committing crimes and trying to start trouble among the peaceful non-Jewish residents. This seemed to be a breaking point for many Jewish people and they began looking for ways to escape the oppressive and often violent environment in which they found themselves living.

For tens of thousands of the Empire's Jewish residents, who were already struggling to survive famines and land shortages, this represented the breaking point. In an article for the Atlantic, the journalist Abraham Cahan described a meeting of the Jewish community of Kiev, during which one speaker proclaimed: There is no hope for Israel in Russia. The salvation of the downtrodden people lies in other parts, in a land beyond the seas, which knows no distinction of race or faith, which is a mother to Jew and Gentile alike (a People at Risk (http://memory.loc.gov/learn/features/immig/alt/polish5.html).In the great republic is our redemption from the brutalities and ignominies to which we are subjected in this our birthplace (a People at Risk (http://memory.loc.gov/learn/features/immig/alt/polish5.html).In America we shall find rest; the stars and stripes will wave over the true home of our people. To America, brethren! To America (a People at Risk (http://memory.loc.gov/learn/features/immig/alt/polish5.html)!"

Millions of Jewish Russians took the challenge and cry for freedom to heart and began devising ways to get their families out of the mother land and into America.

The cry spread across all of Eastern Europe and America found itself faced with the influx of more Jewish Russians than ever before in the nation's history.

In the 1880s, more than 200,000 Eastern European Jews arrived in the U.S. In the next decade, the number was over 300,000, and between 1900 and 1914 it topped 1.5 million, most passing through the new immigrant processing center at Ellis Island. All in all, between 1880 and 1924, when the U.S. Congress cut immigration back severely, it is estimated that as many as 3 million Eastern European Jews came to the U.S.(a People at Risk (http://memory.loc.gov/learn/features/immig/alt/polish5.html)."

When they arrived they found themselves among many other immigrants from all over the world including Ireland and Asia. They encountered differences that the other immigrants did not encounter. One of those differences was the fact that they had come to America almost en-masse. In addition, while many immigrants from other areas of the world worked hard and saved some money and then made the trip back to their homeland, most of the Jewish that had fled Russia never returned nor did their extended families or offspring.

The rate of their return migration was close to zero which was lower than any other migrant group in the history of America.

In addition unlike every other group that had immigrated to America, the Russian Jewish population remained almost exclusively in America.

Their strict orthodox religious practices separated them from most of the residents in New York City but in a land that embraced diversity they found they were allowed to practice without problems for the most part. They were also encouraged to work and develop lives which provided them with the ability to give their children educations and stable upbringings.

Evaluate how Southern Blacks experienced a new sense of pride once they arrived in America's northern industrial cities. Compare their experience with that of Mexicans and their ties to the homeland.

During the days of slavery, and the years following emancipation Southern Blacks were treated much differently in the south than they were if they migrated to the North. It was not long before word of this began to spread and southern blacks found ways to escape, first by using the underground railroad and then by simply moving after they were freed (Harlem Renaissance http://afroamhistory.about.com/cs/harlemrenaissance/a/harlemren.htm

From Jessica McElrath, Your Guide to African-American History).

Southern black has experienced generations of being disrespected at every turn, told what to do and working for free without being allowed to keep their wages.

As southern Blacks began to arrive in the North they were greeted with a world they had never even dreamed of let alone experienced. They were given the freedom to work, to attend school and to socialize at will. While racism still existed, and was extremely harsh during those times there were entire geographical areas set up throughout the north that the Blacks could settle into, work, play and raise their children without fear of being whipped by a slave master.

As this continued and many thousands of Southern Blacks moved North to cities and towns they began to gain a new sense of confidence as a group or population as well as individuals (Harlem Renaissance http://afroamhistory.about.com/cs/harlemrenaissance/a/harlemren.htm

From Jessica McElrath, Your Guide to African-American History).

This new confidence came from the ability to work for wages, care for and support heir families and look their children in the eyes knowing that they were the adults of the family and their children were never going to see them have to beg their master not to sell the children or beat them.

The pride and self-confidence continued to grow and it was not many years later that the Renaissance began.

During the 1920s and into the 1930s, African-American literature and the arts flourished during the Harlem Renaissance. Known mostly for the emergence of great literature by black authors, the Harlem Renaissance, also known as the New Negro Movement, was a result of several factors. Before the movement, thousands of blacks migrated from the South to the Northern industrial cities as more employment opportunities became available from World War I. In addition, the black middle class was increasing and more educational opportunities for blacks became available (Harlem Renaissance… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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