SHORES OF REFUGE: A Hundred Years of Jewish Emigration by Ronald Sanders

SHORES OF REFUGE: A Hundred Years of Jewish Emigration

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A history of Jewish emigration over the past century; by Sanders, author of The High Walls of Jerusalem, Israel: The View from Masada, Lost Tribes and Promised Lands, etc. Sanders opens with the first Ukrainian pogroms in 1881 and closes with the awful symmetry of today's plight of Soviet Jews. In between, a great many Jews migrate from Eastern Europe, Greece, and Nazi-dominated Europe to England, France, Palestine, and, of course, the United States. Sanders demonstrates how the demographics of the Jewish world changed during these intervening years. In 1880, the Eastern world contained 80% of the world's Jewish population. By 1980, half of all Jews lived in the Western Hemisphere. (Poland, on the eve of WW II, had three million Jews; today, there are fewer than ten thousand.) This great change was the result of what Sanders calls ""perhaps the largest exodus of a single people in history--larger, and scarcely less resolute, than the ancestral one of the Old Testament."" Sanders divides the exodus into three phases: that spurred by the Russian pogroms of the czars (which lasted until the WW I and the Russian Revolution); the inter-war exodus, which, sparked by restrictive US immigration legislation of 1921 and 1924, turned to Germany, France, and Palestine; and the Nazi-impelled flights, which changed the character of the Jewish exodus from Eastern European to Western. Along the way, the author taps rich veins of archival material, personal memoirs, and interviews to tell the story both in its historical context and its more personal aspects. He ends by refuting the oft-hurled charge that FDR was lax in his attempts to help the Jews threatened by Hitler. The indifference, Sanders states, was on the part of some of his advisors, and not FDR, who, Sanders insists, did everything possible to aid the Jews. A fine work of history, both moving and inspiring.

Pub Date: Feb. 23rd, 1987
Publisher: Henry Holt