THE GOLDEN DOOR TO AMERICA: The Jewish Immigrant Experience by Abraham J.--Ed. Karp

THE GOLDEN DOOR TO AMERICA: The Jewish Immigrant Experience

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A documentary history of the Jewish presence in America: personal reminiscences, official reports, newspaper accounts, and contemporary analyses from three centuries of assimilation into die goldene medina--the Golden Land--beginning with Peter Stuyvesant's unsuccessful 1654 attempt to throw a handful of Portuguese Jews out of New Amsterdam. The great Eastern European influx after the 1880s furnishes most of Karp's material: contemporary descriptions of tenements and sweatshops (with wonderful excerpts from Hutchins Hapgood's The Spirit of the Ghetto); self-righteous perorations by Brahmin proponents of restricted immigration; excerpts from the Daily Forward's famous ""Bintel Brief."" There are recollections of the thankless self-education process (""As I struggled through The Vicar of Wakefield, I marked down the meaning of every word I did not know""), and accounts of breaks with religion or triumphant foundings of new shuln. This is a deftly constructed sampler rather than an omnibus; Karp's selections have a way of breaking off at tantalizing moments. But it is a lovely companion to Irving Howe's massive Worm of Our Fathers (1975), and an absorbing collection in its own right.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Viking