WE LIVED THERE TOO: In Their Own Words and Pictures--Pioneer Jews and the Westward Movement of America 1630-1930 by Kenneth & Irving Howe Libo

WE LIVED THERE TOO: In Their Own Words and Pictures--Pioneer Jews and the Westward Movement of America 1630-1930

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The authors of How We Lived, documenting the Lower East Side Yiddish culture of Howe's Worm of Our Fathers, here document Jewish settlement of the country at large--overlapping in part, but only in part, Harriet and Fred Rochlin's fine new photographic history of Jewish life in the Far West. Libo and Howe's subjects--""pioneers"" only in the loosest sense--stretch from the first arrivals in New Amsterdam to a serviceman in WW II Alaska. They include prosperous Jewish colonials, like the Philadelphia Gratzes; the protean journalist/dramatist/politician Mordecai Noah (1785-1851); a swarm of mid-century Bavarian peddlers; Levi Strauss and Mike Goldwater and the Guggenheims. Moreover: ""No history of Jews in America would be complete without noting the achievements of Otto Mears, a Russian Jew. . . known as 'the Pathfinder of the San Juan' "" (among many other lesser-knowns included). There is note of religious adjustments, with wry comment: ""A new country where Jews were seen by and large as fellow citizens required a new kind of rabbi willing to suppose that the Diaspora was a blessing not a curse."" There is attention to early Jewish communities, local congregations, the problem of Jewish education. And in the post-1880 period, the authors' particular identification with the Yiddish culture of the East European newcomers brings the book's most unusual material: Midwest anecdotes with a Yiddish accent, accounts of Plains life translated from the Yiddish. Nothing is really missing here: not unionism (Sidney Hillman), radicalism (Emma Goldman), or ""the birth and growth of Zionism in Kansas City."" Lots of flavorful selections, intelligently framed and intriguingly illustrated.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's