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Unfinished People: Eastern European Jews Encounter America

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This is an account of the emigration of three million Jews from Eastern Europe to America between 1880 and the outbreak of World War II. They were mostly young, single and uneducated, but filled with hope of a new life in a new land. The newcomers maintained a sense of community longer than most immigrant groups, although culturally they were uncertain, clinging to fading This is an account of the emigration of three million Jews from Eastern Europe to America between 1880 and the outbreak of World War II. They were mostly young, single and uneducated, but filled with hope of a new life in a new land. The newcomers maintained a sense of community longer than most immigrant groups, although culturally they were uncertain, clinging to fading memories of home, and not yet able to enter American life.


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This is an account of the emigration of three million Jews from Eastern Europe to America between 1880 and the outbreak of World War II. They were mostly young, single and uneducated, but filled with hope of a new life in a new land. The newcomers maintained a sense of community longer than most immigrant groups, although culturally they were uncertain, clinging to fading This is an account of the emigration of three million Jews from Eastern Europe to America between 1880 and the outbreak of World War II. They were mostly young, single and uneducated, but filled with hope of a new life in a new land. The newcomers maintained a sense of community longer than most immigrant groups, although culturally they were uncertain, clinging to fading memories of home, and not yet able to enter American life.

30 review for Unfinished People: Eastern European Jews Encounter America

  1. 4 out of 5

    Glenn

    I really enjoyed this book. Both of my parents hail from NY, and they are 2nd generation American born Jews. The descriptions of street, school, and community life for this immigrant class really opened my eyes to the world my parents lived in. Ruth grew up in the Bronx same as my father, but about 15 years before. Her analysis and characterizations ring very true to what my Dad has passed on and yet she has added much, much more in terms of background and history. She wrote this in her 80's but I really enjoyed this book. Both of my parents hail from NY, and they are 2nd generation American born Jews. The descriptions of street, school, and community life for this immigrant class really opened my eyes to the world my parents lived in. Ruth grew up in the Bronx same as my father, but about 15 years before. Her analysis and characterizations ring very true to what my Dad has passed on and yet she has added much, much more in terms of background and history. She wrote this in her 80's but her style is quite contemporary and the books pace is very quick. After reading this, I feel like I know my parents and their generation more intimately and to a degree, myself as well.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Ross

    Very informative book about the lives of immigrant Jews in the Bronx (and Brooklyn and the Lower East Side) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I hadn't realized how many of them were young--unaccompanied teenagers, and even children. Although the writing style was uneven and at times too rambling for its own good, there's a lot of information and insight here.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Martin Goldberg

    My Grandparents immigrated to the Lower Eastside and then to the Bronx. My mother and uncle were raised there. So this shed insight into what their upbringing and experience was like. Fascinating. The author uses a strange writing style, however, that sort of rambles, which I think detracts from the overall experience. Overall, though, anyone whose ancestors immigrated to New York would very much enjoy this.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Aubrey Davis

    Useful for research. For me, new information. e.g I didn't realize how many children immigrated between 1880 and World War 1 (a huge percentage of the almost three million that came), that many immigrants were not well-grounded in Jewish tradition, that a huge majority of Rabbis stayed behind in Europe.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Avi Aharon

    This book makes a very pleasant read about our distant cousins - distant in both time and place - and yet so similar to my grandparents, that could actually hear and feel the story. Ruth Gay tells a wonderful story and I will certainly read more from her books. I have arrived to this book through searching for Anne Fields narrations. I am glad I did.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    A fine book if you want to know the real life experiences of the jewish immigrants in New York.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Aviva Siegel

  8. 5 out of 5

    Simcha Evron

  9. 4 out of 5

    Janelle

  10. 5 out of 5

    Betty Perske

  11. 5 out of 5

    Teri Pre

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shelli

  13. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne

  14. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

  15. 5 out of 5

    Pannymk

  16. 4 out of 5

    Yael

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ina

  18. 5 out of 5

    Robin Lawrence Poses

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jean

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ilse

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lily

  22. 4 out of 5

    J

  23. 5 out of 5

    David Maayan

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Vannerom

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sofia

  26. 5 out of 5

    J Bel

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chrismarie67yahoo.com

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jekyvsk

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rikoc

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