What factors contributed to the United States having a larger proportion of Jews than other British colonies?

What factors contributed to the United States having a larger proportion of Jews than other British colonies?

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Related but more broad question: Why is such a large percentage of Jewish population worldwide in USA

According to Wikipedia, the United States has a higher proportion of Jews than Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

All of these countries have a very large proportion of people descended from people who immigrated in the past couple of centuries. All have a plurality or even majority of Europeans plus people descended from Europeans. All have had prejudice against Jews and Europeans from countries outside of the western part of Europe (I'm not using "Western Europe" as these prejudices pre-date the Iron Curtain), and government actions that reflected those prejudices.

The answer is simple - the US population is not primarily British in descent. The states have had large numbers of immigrants from all over Europe. Canada, New Zealand, and Australia have a much higher proportion of the population directly descended from British settlers, there was very little Eastern European movement to British colonies as they were just that, British. Britain itself never housed a significant population of Jews. However, the Eastern European countries had a much higher populations of Jews, and many of them immigrated to the United States throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The US was seen as a safe place for Jews away from persecution, they were able to set up Jewish communities with little to no anti semitism, unlike what they faced in Europe. That is the reason why the US has the second largest population of Jews in the world.

To add further to this, 90% of American Jews are Ashkenazi Jews, which is a Jewish group that settled in the areas of the holy roman empire. This further proves that most of the Jews came to America through the eastern emigration, from Germany, Poland, and so on. These Jews did not settle much in France, Spain, or England.

Geography has a large part to do with it. America has a large population of Dutch, German, and Polish descent - areas with significant Jewish communities (at least before the Holocaust). Many would have boarded ships in Baltic/North Atlantic ports. From there, America is a closer destination by sea than say, Australia.

In contrast, Italian, Greek and Lebanese immigrants would have boarded in Mediterranean ports allowing a considerably shorter journey to Australia through the Suez canal, hence Australia's high number of Mediterranean immigrants of mostly Orthodox and Catholic Christian faith and relatively small communities from Northern Europe.

England received less immigrants in general mainly because of size. There was nowhere near the opportunity in the UK as there was in large, comparatively young countries like the US and Australia and the refugee intake was much smaller.

Much of America was founded on the principle of religious freedom. That is, Puritans in New England, Dutch Reformers in New York, Quakers in Pennsylvania, Catholics in Maryland, etc.(among others in the original "13 Colonies.") This ethos carried over into "America" after independence.

Jews found the principle of religious freedom more attractive than many other groups, and the resulting "America" more accommodative of such than England itself, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand.

What factors contributed to the United States having a larger proportion of Jews than other British colonies? - History

This is a guest post by Gary Mokotoff Jews have been coming to the Americas literally since Columbus discovered America. Luis De Torres, a Jew, was Columbus' interpreter on his maiden trip. Migration of Jews through the centuries, for the most part, came in waves primarily because of persecution, but also for economic or political reasons. In 1492, the Spanish monarchy demanded that all Jews convert to Christianity or leave the country. Many chose to stay and continued to observe Judaism in secret as crypto-Jews. Some fled to the Spanish colonies in the Americas to escape the Inquisition. One of the early colonies, Santa Elena, was located in today's South Carolina. A list of colonists shows many with Jewish surnames. In fact, the leader of the colony, Juan Pardo, may have been crypto-Jew because Pardo is a Jewish surname. The colony was disbanded in 1587. Other crypto-Jews fled to the colony of Mexico and established their own towns in today's New Mexico. Better known are the group of Jews who came to Nieuw Amsterdam (now New York) in 1654 from Recife, Brazil, and permanently settled there. Recife was a Dutch colony conquered by the Portuguese and the Jews feared they would be persecuted at the Inquisition. Colonial Migration (1654?1840) Haym Salomon, financier of the American Revolution It is estimated that fewer than 15,000 Jews came to settle in the United States prior to the first major migration'German Jews starting in 1840. The early settlers established their synagogues, cemeteries and participated in the everyday life. Jews were present at Bunker Hill, Valley Forge, and other battle sites throughout the colonies. Some were Tories. The best known Jew of the Revolutionary War period was Haym Salomon. He helped raise funds and loaned his own personal money to fund the colonial war against the British. German Migration (1840?1881) German Jews began to come to America in significant numbers in the 1840s. Jews participated with those who advocated revolution and reform in Germany, and when this movement was suppressed, many Jews fled to the United States to avoid persecution, restrictive laws and economic hardship. Many became peddlers and died peddlers. A few became retail giants such as Bernard Gimbel, Isidor Straus (founder of Macy's, who died on the Titanic). Eastern European Migration (1881?1924) In 1881, Czar Alexander II was assassinated and it was blamed on the Jews. What followed were numerous pogroms until World War I. This caused a tremendous migration of Jews from Eastern Europe (at that time Russia included today's Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine and portions of Poland). It is estimated that more than 2 million Jews immigrated to the U.S. It is also claimed that 90% of Jewish Americans today owe their heritage to these immigrants. Many of them Americanized their surnames due to anti-Semitism and the desire to assimilate. Tartasky became Tarr, Chajkowski became Shaw, Levine became LeVine. It is a challenge to many people trying to trace their family history when the name in the Old Country is not known. There are solutions. Interwar/Holocaust Period (1924?1945) In 1924, Congress passed onerous immigration laws that virtually cutoff immigration from such places as Eastern Europe and Italy. It is estimated that fewer than 100,000 Jews immigrated during this period. A number of German Jews fleeing Hitler's rise to power managed to come to the U.S. in the 1930s. Examples are Albert Einstein and Henry Kissinger. Attempts to rescue Jews fell on deaf ears of the U.S. government and immigration laws prevented their escaping the Nazi onslaught. During World War II immigration, in general, came to a virtual standstill. Munich, Vienna and Barcelona Jewish Displaced Persons and Refugee Cards, 1943-1959 Holocaust Survivors (1945?1960) After World War II, the U.S. opened its gates to refugees of the war. This included more than 250,000 Jews according to HIAS (Hebrew Immigration Aid Society). In the 1970s, the term Holocaust survivors' was created to identify these individuals. Many were sole survivors of their family who often married other sole survivors and built new lives here. Some of the earliest personal computers were built by Commodore and Atari, founded by Jack Tramiel, a Holocaust survivor. Recent Years Persecution in Middle East countries such as Iran and Iraq caused most of the Jews in these countries to flee to the U.S. and Israel in the 1950s and 60s. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, many Jews left the countries of the former Soviet Union and immigrated to other countries including the U.S. Interestingly, these Russian Jews have kept their surnames, undoubtedly due to the decline of anti-Semitism in this country. Such a person is Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google. A more detailed description of Jewish migration to America through 1924 can be found at My Jewish Learning. Gary Mokotoff is a noted author, lecturer and leader of Jewish genealogy. He has been recognized by three major genealogical groups for his achievements. He is the first person to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) recipient of the Grahame T. Smallwood Award of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern Humanitarian Award of the Federation of Genealogical Societies.

The Postwar Booms

Historians use the word 𠇋oom” to describe a lot of things about the 1950s: the booming economy, the booming suburbs and most of all the so-called �y boom.” This boom began in 1946, when a record number of babies𠄳.4 million–were born in the United States. About 4 million babies were born each year during the 1950s. In all, by the time the boom finally tapered off in 1964, there were almost 77 million �y boomers.”

Did you know? When Rosa Parks died in 2005, she was the first woman to lie in honor in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.

After World War II ended, many Americans were eager to have children because they were confident that the future held nothing but peace and prosperity. In many ways, they were right. Between 1945 and 1960, the gross national product more than doubled, growing from $200 billion to more than $500 billion, kicking off “the Golden Age of American Capitalism.” Much of this increase came from government spending: The construction of interstate highways and schools, the distribution of veterans’ benefits and most of all the increase in military spending–on goods like airplanes and new technologies like computers𠄺ll contributed to the decade’s economic growth. Rates of unemployment and inflation were low, and wages were high. Middle-class people had more money to spend than ever𠄺nd, because the variety and availability of consumer goods expanded along with the economy, they also had more things to buy.

What factors contributed to the United States having a larger proportion of Jews than other British colonies? - History

Divining America is made possible by grants from the Lilly Endowment and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Deism and the Founding of the United States

Darren Staloff
Professor of History at the City College of New York and
the Graduate Center of the City University of New York
©National Humanities Center

In recent decades, the role of deism in the American founding has become highly charged. Evangelical and/or &ldquotraditional&rdquo Protestants have claimed that Christianity was central to the early history of the United States and that the nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. They point to the use of prayer in Congress, national days of prayer and thanksgiving and the invocation of God as the source of our &ldquounalienable rights&rdquo in the Declaration of Independence. Secularists respond that large fractions of the principal founding fathers were not Christians at all but deists and the American founding was established on secular foundations. Their principal evidence is the strict separation of church and state they find embedded in the first amendment. They further cite the utter absence of biblical references in our principal founding documents and note that the God of the Declaration of Independence is not described in a scriptural idiom as &ldquoGod the Father&rdquo but instead in deistic terms as a &ldquoCreator&rdquo and &ldquosupreme judge of the world.&rdquo Although both sides have some evidence, neither is persuasive. Ultimately, the role of deism in the American founding is just too complex to force into such simplistic formulas.

Deism or &ldquothe religion of nature&rdquo was a form of rational theology that emerged among &ldquofreethinking&rdquo Europeans in the 17th and 18th centuries. Deists insisted that religious truth should be subject to the authority of human reason rather than divine revelation. Consequently, they denied that the Bible was the revealed word of God and rejected scripture as a source of religious doctrine. As devotees of natural religion, they rejected all the supernatural elements of Christianity. Miracles, prophecies, and divine portents were all proscribed as residues of superstition, as was the providential view of human history . The doctrines of original sin, the account of creation found in Genesis, and the divinity and resurrection of Christ were similarly castigated as irrational beliefs unworthy of an enlightened age. For Deists God was a benevolent, if distant, creator whose revelation was nature and human reason. Applying reason to nature taught most deists that God organized the world to promote human happiness and our greatest religious duty was to further that end by the practice of morality.

Edward Herbert,
1st Baron Herbert of Cherbury,
by Isaac OliverThe origins of English deism lay in the first half of the 17th century. Lord Edward Herbert of Cherbury, a prominent English statesman and thinker, laid out the basic deist creed in a series of works beginning with De Veritate (On Truth, as it is Distinguished from Revelation, the Probable, the Possible, and the False) in 1624. Herbert was reacting to the ongoing religious strife and bloodletting that had wracked Europe since the onset of the Reformation in the previous century and would shortly spark a revolution and civil war in England itself resulting in the trial and execution of King Charles I. Deism, Herbert hoped, would quell this strife by offering a rational and universal creed. Like his contemporary Thomas Hobbes, Herbert established the existence of God from the so-called cosmological argument that, since everything has a cause, God must be acknowledged as the first cause of the universe itself. Given the existence of God, it is our duty to worship him, repent our failings, strive to be virtuous, and expect punishment and reward in the afterlife. Because this creed was based on reason which was shared by all men (unlike revelation), Herbert hoped it would be acceptable to everyone regardless of their religious background. Indeed, he considered deism the essential core religious belief of all men throughout history, including Jews, Muslims, and even Pagans.

Despite Herbert&rsquos efforts, deism had very little impact in England for most of the 17th century. But in the years from 1690 to 1740, the very height of the Enlightenment in England, deism became a major source of controversy and discussion in English religious and speculative culture. Figures like Charles Blount, Anthony Collins, John Toland, Henry St. John (Lord Bolingbroke), William Wollaston, Matthew Tindal, Thomas Woolston, and Thomas Chubb championed the cause of deism. In so doing, they sparked theological disputes that spread across the channel and the Atlantic.

These Enlightened deists capitalized on two critical developments in the late 17th century to bolster the case for the religion of nature. The first was a transformation in the understanding of nature itself. The path breaking work of physicists like Galileo, Kepler, and, especially, Newton resulted in a vision of the world that was remarkably orderly and precise in its adherence to universal mathematical laws. The Newtonian universe was often compared to a clock because of the regularity of its mechanical operations. Deists seized on this image to formulate the argument from design, namely that the clockwork order of the universe implied an intelligent designer, i.e. God the cosmic clockmaker. The other critical development was the articulation of John Locke&rsquos empiricist theory of knowledge. Having denied the existence of innate ideas, Locke insisted that the only judge of truth was sense experience aided by reason. Although Locke himself believed that the Christian revelation and the accounts of miracles contained therein passed this standard, his close friend and disciple Anthony Collins did not. The Bible was a merely human text and its doctrines must be judged by reason. Since miracles and prophecies are by their nature violations of the laws of nature, laws whose regularity and universality were confirmed by Newtonian mechanics, they cannot be credited. Providential intervention in human history similarly interfered with the clocklike workings of the universe and impiously implied the shoddy workmanship of the original design. Unlike the God of Scripture, the deist God was remarkably distant after designing his clock, he simply wound it up and let it run. At the same time, his benevolence was evidenced by the astounding precision and beauty of his workmanship. Indeed, part of the attraction of deism lay in its foisting a sort of cosmic optimism. A rational and benevolent deity would only design what Voltaire lampooned as &ldquothe best of all possible worlds,&rdquo and all earthly injustice and suffering was either merely apparent or would be rectified in the hereafter. True deist piety was moral behavior in keeping with the Golden Rule of benevolence.

Christianity as Old as the
Creation: Or, The Gospel,
a Republication of the
Religion of Nature,
by Matthew Tindal Most English deists downplayed the tensions between their rational theology and that of traditional Christianity. Anthony Collins clamed that &ldquofreethinking&rdquo in religion was not only a natural right but also a biblically enjoined duty. Matthew Tindal, the author of Christianity as Old as the Creation (1730)&mdashthe &ldquoBible of Deism&rdquo&mdashargued that the religion of nature was recapitulated in Christianity, and the purpose of the Christian revelation was to free men from superstition. Tindal insisted that he was a Christian deist, as did Thomas Chubb who revered Christ as a divine moral teacher but held that reason, not faith, was the final arbiter of religious belief. How seriously to take these claims has been a matter of intense and prolonged debate. Deism was proscribed by law after all the Toleration Act of 1689 had specifically excluded all forms of anti- trinitarianism as well as Catholicism. Even in an age of increasing toleration, flaunting one&rsquos heterodoxy could be a dangerous affair, driving many authors into esotericism if not outright deception. When Thomas Woolston attacked the scriptural accounts of miracles and the doctrine of the resurrection, he was fined one hundred pounds sterling and sentenced to one year in prison. Certainly, some deists adopted a materialistic determinism that smacked of atheism. Others, like Collins, Bolingbroke, and Chubb, questioned the immortality of the soul. Even more challenging was the propensity to ascribe the supernatural elements of the Christian religion to &ldquopriestcraft,&rdquo the cunning deceptions of clergymen who gulled their ignorant flocks by throwing the pixie dust of &ldquomystery&rdquo in their eyes. The Dudleian lecture, endowed by Paul Dudley in 1750, is the oldest endowed lecture at Harvard University. Dudley specified that the lecture should be given once a year, and that the topics of the lectures should rotate among four themes: natural religion, revealed religion, the Romish church, and the validity of the ordination of ministers. The first lecture was given in 1755, and it continues to the present day. On the other hand, the rational theology of the deists had been an intrinsic part of Christian thought since Thomas Aquinas, and the argument from design was trumpeted from Anglophone Protestant pulpits of most denominations on both sides of the Atlantic. In fact, Harvard instituted a regular series of lectures on natural religion in 1755. Even anti-clericalism had a fine pedigree among dissenting English Protestants since the Reformation. And it is not inconceivable that many deists might have seen themselves as the culmination of the Reformation process, practicing the priesthood of all believers by subjecting all authority, even that of scripture, to the faculty of reason that God had given humanity.

Like their English counterparts, most colonial deists downplayed their distance from their orthodox neighbors. Confined to a small number of educated and generally wealthy elites, colonial deism was a largely private affair that sought to fly below the radar. Benjamin Franklin had been much taken with deist doctrines in his youth and had even published a treatise [A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain] in England on determinism with strong atheistic overtones. But Franklin quickly repented of his action and tried to suppress the distribution of his publication, considering it one of the greatest errors of his youth. Henceforth he kept his religious convictions to himself and his clubbical &ldquopot companions&rdquo or drinking friends, and tried to present as orthodox a public appearance as possible. Like his handful of fellow colonial deists, Franklin kept a low theological profile. As a result, deism had very little impact in early America up through the American Revolution.

In the years after independence, however, that began to change. In 1784 Ethan Allen, the hero of Fort Ticonderoga and revolutionary leader of the Green Mountain Boys, published Reason: The Only Oracle of Man. Allen had drafted much of the work some twenty years earlier with Thomas Young, a fellow New England patriot and freethinker. Allen rejected revelation (scriptural or otherwise), prophecies, miracles, and divine providence as well as such specifically Christian doctrines as the trinity, original sin, and the need for atonement. A tedious and long-winded author, Allen&rsquos lengthy tome had little impact other than raising the ire of the New England clergy and the specter of homegrown freethinking. The same could not be said of Thomas Paine&rsquos Age of Reason (1794). The legendary author of Common Sense brought the same militancy and rhetorical flair to the struggle for deism that he had for independence. Paine lambasted the superstitions of Christianity and vilified the priestcraft that supported it. More than simply irrational, Christianity was the last great obstacle to the coming secular chiliad , the Age of Reason. Only when it was vanquished could human happiness and perfectibility be achieved. Paine&rsquos impact was due as much to the punchy power of his prose as the extreme radicalism of his views, as evidenced by this denunciation of the Old Testament:

Militant deism had arrived in early America with a bang.

The Temple of Reason,
by Elihu Palmer The flame that Paine sparked was fanned by his good friend Elihu Palmer. A former Baptist minister, Palmer traveled along the Atlantic seaboard lecturing audiences large and small about the truths of natural religion as well as the absurdities of revealed Christianity and the clerical priestcraft that supported them. A skilled biblical casuist , Palmer exposed the irrationality of Christianity and its debased moral principles in Principles of Nature (1801). A radical feminist and abolitionist, Palmer found the scriptures filled with an ethical code of intolerance and vengeful cruelty in sharp contrast to the benevolent humanitarianism of his own rational creed. Palmer spread the word in two deist newspapers he edited, The Temple of Reason (1800&ndash1801) and The Prospect (1803&ndash1805). By the time he died in 1806, Palmer had founded deist societies in several cities including New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.

Organized deism did not survive Palmer&rsquos demise, as much of the nation was swept up in an evangelical revival. In fact, the militant deism of Paine and Palmer never really threatened mainstream Protestantism in the early Republic. But that was not the way many orthodox divines saw it. In the years after Paine and Palmer began spreading their message, many ministers (particularly in New England) angrily denounced the growing menace of godless deism, French-inspired Atheism, and revolutionary and conspiratorial &ldquoilluminatism.&rdquo These charges took on an increasingly shrill and partisan edge, so much so that they became a campaign issue in the Presidential election of 1800 which several clergymen depicted as a choice between the Federalist patriot John Adams and the Francophile anti-Christian Thomas Jefferson.

After explaining the nature of deism, you are in a wonderful position to enrich your students understanding of the role of religion in the founding of the United States. The first thing to do is to show the inadequacy of the polemical formulas stated at the outset of this essay. Begin with the secularist case for a deist founding. First note that of those men who signed the Declaration of Independence, sat in the Confederation Congress, or participated in the Constitutional Convention for whom we have reliable information, the vast bulk were fairly traditional in the religious lives. The presumed deists comprise a fairly small group, although most are prominent &ldquoA list&rdquo founders like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, George Mason, James Madison, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin. At least two of these names can be struck off the list immediately. Freemasonry

The teachings and practices of the secret fraternal order of Free and Accepted Masons, the largest worldwide secret society. Spread by the advance of the British Empire, Freemasonry remains most popular in the British Isles and in other countries originally within the empire.

Freemasonry evolved from the guilds of stonemasons and cathedral builders of the Middle Ages. With the decline of cathedral building, some lodges of operative (working) masons began to accept honorary members to bolster their declining membership. From a few of these lodges developed modern symbolic or speculative Freemasonry, which particularly in the 17th and 18th centuries, adopted the rites and trappings of ancient religious orders and of chivalric brotherhoods. In 1717 the first Grand Lodge, an association of lodges, was founded in England.

Freemasonry has, almost from its inception, encountered considerable opposition from organized religion, especially from the Roman Catholic Church, and from various states.

Though often mistaken for such, Freemasonry is not a Christian institution. Freemasonry contains many of the elements of a religion its teachings enjoin morality, charity, and obedience to the law of the land. For admission the applicant is required to be an adult male believing in the existence of a Supreme Being and in the immortality of the soul. In practice, some lodges have been charged with prejudice against Jews, Catholics, and nonwhites. Generally, Freemasonry in Latin countries has attracted freethinkers and anticlericals, whereas in the Anglo-Saxon countries, the membership is drawn largely from among white Protestants.

&ldquoFreemasonry&rdquo Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
22 Feb. 2008. Hamilton had been fairly devout as a youth, and while there is little evidence of much religiosity during the height of his career, in his final years he returned to a heartfelt and sincere Christian piety. John Adams was far from orthodox in his beliefs but he was no deist he was a universalist Unitarian whose views were remarkably similar to those of Charles Chauncy, the minister of Boston&rsquos First Church. The next category is those whose deism is ascribed on slender evidence. George Washington&rsquos deism is inferred from his failure to mention Jesus in his writings, his freemasonry , and his apparent refusal to take communion during most of his life. That Washington was not a fundamentalist goes without saying, but there is simply no evidence that he was anything other than what was known at the time as a &ldquoliberal&rdquo Christian. A regular attendee of religious services and a vestryman in his parish, Washington peppered many of his addresses and speeches with biblical references and appeals to divine providence as well a messages extolling the role of religion in public life. And the evidence of Mason and Madison is even weaker than that for Washington. The only really plausible cases are Franklin and Jefferson. There is no doubt that both were taken with deist doctrines in their youth and that they informed their mature religious convictions. Yet neither entirely embraced the religion of nature, especially in its militant form. Franklin never accepted the divinity of Christ, but he did specifically argue for a providential view of history. As for Jefferson, there is some evidence that by the late 1790&rsquos he had abandoned his deism for he materialist Unitarianism of Joseph Priestly. This is not to suggest that there were no deists in the founding. Thomas Paine assuredly fits the bill, as do Ethan Allen, Phillip Freneau, and possibly Stephen Hopkins. But these comprise a small fraction of the B-list, not the cream of the crop.

Having dispatched the secularists, turn your fire on the case for a Christian founding. First, note that while the aforementioned founders were not deists, they were far from traditional in their beliefs. Washington may not have mentioned Jesus because he doubted the divinity of Christ, a doubt that was assuredly shared by Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, and possibly Mason and Madison as well. &ldquoReal whigs held that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, denounced standing armies,&hellip argued that &lsquofreedom of speech is the great bulwark [safeguard] of liberty.&rsquo feared religious establishments,&hellip were preoccupied with limiting government and protecting a sphere of privacy from undue governmental intervention.&rdquo

Citizens and Citoyens: Republicans and Liberals in America and France, by Mark Hulliung. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2002. page 11. These were, after all, men of the Enlightenment who, in the words of historian Gordon Wood, &ldquowere not all that enthusiastic about religion, certainly not about religious enthusiasm.&rdquo And even if their views were somewhat atypical, they certainly did not hamper them from gaining the respect and public support of their more orthodox countrymen. Moreover, it is important to point out that a country founded by and for Christians does not a Christian founding make. The &ldquoreal whig&rdquo ideology that inspired the colonial protest movement of the 1760s drew on classical and early modern rather than Christian sources there is very little scriptural &ldquoDuring the early modern period, the context of human affairs was changing dramatically. Within the globalization of life, three major changes were of special significance.

1. The development of new-style empires and large state systems that came to dominate global political and military affairs.

2. The internal transformation of the major societies, but especially the transformation of society in western Europe.

3. The emergence of networks of interaction that were global in their scope.

These developments reoriented the global balance of societal power. In 1500 there were four predominant traditions of civilization in the Eastern Hemisphere in a position of relative parity, but by 1800, one of these societies, the West, was in a position to assume political and military control over the whole world.&rdquo

The Encyclopedia of World History:
Ancient, Medieval, and Modern,
6th ed.
, edited by Peter N. Stearns.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001.
February 2008. authority for the maxim &ldquono taxation without representation.&rdquo Similarly, the doctrines of mixed and balanced government, the separation of powers, and all the other principles of prudential politics association with the Federal Constitution were drawn from the writings of European philosophers rather than biblical prophets or exegetes.

Once your students have seen the inadequacy of both current formulas, push them to rethink the relation of politics and religion in the early Republic. You might suggest that the natural religious language of the Declaration served as a neutral expression acceptable to all denominations rather than a deist creed precisely because a tradition of natural theology was shared by most Christians at the time. Deist phrases may thus have been a sort of theological lingua franca , and their use by the founders was ecumenical rather than anti-Christian. Such ecumenical striving sheds fresh light on the first amendment and the secular order it established. This secularism forbade the federal government from establishing a national church or interfering with church affairs in the states. However, it did not create a policy of official indifference, much less hostility toward organized religion. Congress hired chaplains, government buildings were used for divine services, and federal policies supported religion in general (ecumenically) as does our tax code to this day. The founding generation always assumed that religion would play a vital part in the political and moral life of the nation. Its ecumenical secularity insured that no particular faith would be excluded from that life, including disbelief itself.

Unfortunately, many recent books on deism and the Founding of the United States are polemical in intent. There are two notable exceptions however. David L. Holmes, The Faith of the Founding Fathers (2006) makes a scholarly argument for the importance of deism in the founding, albeit by examining a handful of Virginians. Alf J. Mapp, Jr., The Faiths of Our Fathers: What America&rsquos Fathers Really Believed (2003) takes a more balanced view but is based on little primary research and tends to be conjectural in its conclusions. Little work has been done on deism in early America itself besides Kerry S. Walters, Rational Infidels: The American Deists (1992) which remains the best book on the subject. There are, however, hosts of good and popular books on individuals &ldquodeist&rdquo founders. Two excellent examples are Edwin S. Gaustad&rsquos Sworn on the Altar of God: A Religious Biography of Thomas Jefferson (1996) and Edmund S. Morgan&rsquos Benjamin Franklin (2002). A good general introduction to the role of religion in the early republic is James H. Hutson, Religion and the Founding of the American Republic (1998).

Darren Staloff is a Professor of History at the City College of New York and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has published many papers and reviews on early American history and is the author of The Making of an American Thinking Class: Intellectuals and Intelligentsia in Puritan Massachusetts (1998) and The Politics of Enlightenment: Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams and the Founding of the American Republic (2005).

Address comments or questions to Professor Staloff through TeacherServe &ldquoComments and Questions.&rdquo

Legal Status Of Slaves And Blacks

By the end of the seventeenth century, the status of blacks — slave or free — tended to follow the status of their mothers. Generally, “white” persons were not slaves but Native and African Americans could be. One odd case was the offspring of a free white woman and a slave: the law often bound these people to servitude for thirty-one years. Conversion to Christianity could set a slave free in the early colonial period, but this practice quickly disappeared.

Skin Color and Status

Southern law largely identified skin color with status. Those who appeared African or of African descent were generally presumed to be slaves. Virginia was the only state to pass a statute that actually classified people by race: essentially, it considered those with one quarter or more black ancestry as black. Other states used informal tests in addition to visual inspection: one-quarter, one-eighth, or one-sixteenth black ancestry might categorize a person as black.

Even if blacks proved their freedom, they enjoyed little higher status than slaves except, to some extent, in Louisiana. Many Southern states forbade free persons of color from becoming preachers, selling certain goods, tending bar, staying out past a certain time of night, or owning dogs, among other things. Federal law denied black persons citizenship under the Dred Scott decision (1857). In this case, Chief Justice Roger Taney also determined that visiting a free state did not free a slave who returned to a slave state, nor did traveling to a free territory ensure emancipation.

United States of America

The United States is home to the largest Jewish population in the world after Israel. The American Jewish community boasts a wide range of Jewish cultural traditions encompassing the full spectrum of Jewish religious streams and traditions.

Many American Jews identify with a religious stream of Judaism, while there are many others who are not affiliated with any stream, but so identify as Jewish culturally or through bodies such as Jewish community centers or organizations. Many American Jews take an active interest in public Jewish affairs and discourse, and avail themselves of Jewish educational services, kosher food, holiday events, and other aspects of Jewish cultural and traditional life.

The largest Jewish communities in the US are in New York City, Los Angeles, South Florida, San Francisco, Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Boston. There are substantial Jewish communities in many other cities as well.

Population: 328, 200, 000
Jewish population: Between 5,300,000 and 7,000,000

WJC Affiliate

World Jewish Congress, American Section
Tel. +1-212-894-4759

Email: [email protected] www.wjc.org
Website: www.wjc.org

Chair, WJC American Section: Rabbi Joel Meyers
Executive Director, WJC North America: Betty Ehrenberg

Rabbi Joel Meyers, Chair, WJC American Section

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With between approximately 5,700,000 and 7,160,000 million Jews, the United States is home to what is considered the largest or second largest Jewish population in the world, depending on the sources cited and methods used. Hebrew University demographer Sergio Della Pergola has estimated the US Jewish community to number between 5,700,000 and 10,000,000 as of 2013. Criteria may take into account halakhic considerations, or secular, cultural, political and ancestral identification factors. With two million Jews, New York City has the largest Jewish population of any other municipality in the world.

Studies conducted in 2013 cited that nearly one in four U.S. Jewish adults said they attended Jewish religious services at a synagogue or other place of worship at least once a week or once or twice a month roughly one-third of Jews say they attend religious services a few times a year and four in ten say they seldom or never attend Jewish religious services. American Jews identify for the most part as Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox, with some identifying with a variety of smaller groups, such as the Reconstructionist and Renewal movements. Each stream has its own rabbinical and congregational bodies. About one-third of American Jews do not identify with any denomination. The percentage of U.S. Jews who say they have no religion (22%) is almost the same as non-Jews (20%).

Some smaller Jewish communities are known to preserve special customs and traditions. These include the Bukharan and Syrian Jews in Queens and Brooklyn, NY Russian Jews in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, NY and Iranian Jews in Los Angeles, CA. The United States, particularly Brooklyn, NY, among other cities, is also the home of many Hasidic groups.

Jewish culture is well known in American society. The proportion of Jewish university graduates is high. Jews serve in both federal and local government entities, including the US Congress, and the US Supreme Court.

Jewish administrators and faculty also serve widely in universities. Jewish motifs are often identifiable in theatre, film, and other cultural venues, and Jews are active in American political and civic life.

At the time of the Declaration of Independence (1776), there were already 1,500 to 2,500 Jews in the British colonies that would become the United States, mostly descendants of Sephardic immigrants from Spain, Portugal, or their colonies.

In the wake of large immigration from Germany in the middle of the 19th century, the new arrivals bolstered the Jewish population from 6,000 in 1826 to 15,000 in 1840 and 280,000 in 1880. Then, most Jews were part of the educated and largely secular Ashkenazi (German) community, although a minority population of the older Sephardic Jewish families remained prominent.

Beginning in 1881, a wave of immigration from the Russian Empire and other parts of Eastern Europe started, and by the turn of the century, the American Jewish population had surpassed one million. That immigration continued until the imposition, in 1924, of strict quotas designed to restrict the entry of new immigrants from eastern and southern Europe. Until that time, the United States absorbed about two-thirds of the total number of Jewish emigrants leaving eastern Europe. By 1918, America had become the country with the largest Jewish community in the world.

Most of these new arrivals were also Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jews who came from the poor rural populations of the Russian Empire – what is today Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova. Over two million Jews arrived between the mid-1800s and 1924. Most settled in New York City and its immediate environs, establishing what became one of the world's major concentrations of the Jewish population.

Jewish immigrants dreamed of the United States as a promised land, a "goldene medina", but the reality was often harsh. Most newcomers worked at manual labor in appalling conditions. The largest concentration was in New York's Lower East Side, which at one time was home to over 350,000 Jews crammed into a single square mile.

These newly arrived Jews built support networks consisting of many small synagogues and Ashkenazi "Landsmannschaften", associations of Jews coming from the same town or village in Europe. Jewish writers of the time urged assimilation and integration into the wider American culture, and Jews quickly became part of American life. Later, many Jews entered the free professions, and Jews distinguished themselves in commerce, industry, and science.

In the 1930s, only a small fraction of the Jewish refugees clamoring to escape the threat of Nazism were admitted. By 1940, the Jewish population had risen to 4,500,000, and that number increased after the war when many Holocaust survivors arrived on American shores. Half a million American Jews (half of all Jewish men aged between 18 and 50) fought in World War II.

Many Jews left the cities for the suburbs which facilitated the formation of new Jewish centers. Jewish day school enrollment more than doubled between the end of World War II and the mid-1950s, while synagogue affiliation jumped from 20 percent in 1930 to 60 percent thirty years later. More recent waves of Jewish immigration from Russia and other regions have largely joined the mainstream American Jewish community.

Jews have served and continue to serve prominently in all areas of US public life, including Congress, the US Supreme Court and other courts, and federal and state government.

Over the last decades, many Israelis immigrated to the United States, as have 150,000 Jews from the FSU, 30,000 Jews from Iran, and thousands of others from Latin America and South Africa, and other states and regions.

Rabbi Stephen S. Wise in 1936 co-founded the World Jewish Congress, together with Nahum Goldmann, and others. The World Jewish Congress, American Section is the affiliate of the WJC in the United States comprising key American Jewish national organizations and outstanding individuals. The American Section, in furthering the goals of the WJC, facilitates American Jewish input into the WJC’s global deliberations and encourages American Jewish efforts to fight anti-Semitism and racism, defend Jewish rights around the world, and to advocate for Israel.

The WJC, American Section meets regularly in New York and in Washington with American elected officials and dignitaries, and with representatives of foreign governments. Activities of WJC, American Section advocacy include, among others, meetings with foreign ministers and heads of state during the UN General Assembly, meetings with members of the UN Secretariat and staff, ambassadors, American officials, outreach to interfaith leaders, and support for Israel and other Jewish communities in the public square. Continuous support for pro-Israel legislation is a top priority on both local and federal levels, as is activity to counter the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and other attempts to delegitimize Israel. Combating antisemitism is paramount – the American Section played a key role in the recent passage of the No Hate in Our State bill introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York to strengthen support for the state police Hate Crimes Task Force, and in garnering support for the Never Again Education Act, a bi-partisan effort to significantly increase Holocaust education in the United States. Recent programs on the history and culture of the Jewish community in France were held in co-sponsorship with the Consulate General of France in New York, in solidarity with the Jewish community in France that witnessed a sharp rise in antisemitic attacks in recent years. These are only a few examples of a wide range of constant activity.

Other Jewish organizations, federations, Jewish community centers and synagogues operate in many cities, towns, and neighborhoods, serving the community in a wide variety of ways, including social welfare services and Jewish educational activities, on large swathe of Jewish concerns. Some Jewish organizations focus on specific issues or projects.

As a group, American Jews have been very active in civil rights movements. In the 20th century, Jews were among the most active participants and supporters of the black civil rights movement, and in the latter half of the twentieth century, were outspoken and extremely active on the issue of the right of Soviet Jews to freely emigrate from the Soviet Union.

Support for Zionism began growing in influence in the 1930s and 1940s, as part of the Jewish community’s strong backing of President Franklin Roosevelt's domestic and foreign policies, yet remained a minority opinion until the founding of Israel in 1948 propelled the Middle East into a focus of attention. The United States’ immediate recognition of Israel by the American government was an indication of both its intrinsic support and the influence of political Zionism. A lively internal debate commenced following the Six-Day War in 1967 and the search for peace, and by this time the American Jewish community had demonstrated its strong support for Israel, albeit with diverse opinions on current events as they unfolded, as is seen still today.

The US-Israel relationship has been unparalleled in strength, and has had a particularly strategic significance for Israel, sometimes preventing its total isolation during critical periods of political pressure, especially during economic and political boycotts. Since 1985, American aid to Israel has amounted to US$ 3 billion per annum, of which $1.8 billion represents military assistance and US$ 1.2 billion is used for the repayment of Israel's debts to Washington. The American Jewish community is one of the strongest proponents of US foreign aid legislation, which includes not only Israel, but aid to all the countries that recipients of the US assistance as well.

Apart from its Embassy in Washington, Israel has a consulate general in New York and consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, and San Francisco. All have close ties with their local Jewish community representatives.

Among the leading sites of Jewish interest is the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, the paramount center for public Holocaust education, and supported mainly by the US government and private contributions. The USHMM features many outstanding exhibitions on a wide variety of aspects of Holocaust history and is visited by millions each year, including students and public servants. Other important museums include the Jewish Museum, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and the Dr. Bernard Heller Museum at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, all in New York City the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, the Skirball Cultural Center, and the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

There are also many historic synagogues in the U.S. – first and foremost Touro Synagogue in Newport, RI, which is the oldest surviving synagogue building in North America and a fine example of American colonial architecture.

Twenty-five percent of American Jewish children are enrolled in a Jewish day school (Pew 2013). According to the 2014 AviChai survey , there were about 255,000 students enrolled in Jewish day schools which is a 12% increase since 2009 and a 37% increase since 1998. There are approximately 860 Jewish day schools in the US in all three major streams.

There are also a number of Jewish colleges and specialized institutes, as well as rabbinical seminaries and teacher-training institutions, representing every stream. Many non-sectarian and Christian universities also have programs of Jewish studies, and some of the most outstanding Jewish libraries in the world are in the United States.

The American Jewish media is characterized by its great diversity. There are about 80 Jewish online and print weeklies and several dozen monthlies and quarterlies. Websites and social media outlets of Jewish organizations and publications are numerous, and in some large Jewish communities there are Jewish radio and television programs.

Middle Easterners

Among the trends of Arab immigration in the 20th century were the arrival of Lebanese Christians in the first half of the century and Palestinian Muslims in the second half. Initially Arabs inhabited the East Coast, but by the end of the century there was a large settlement of Arabs in the greater Detroit area. Armenians, also from southwest Asia, arrived in large numbers in the early 20th century, eventually congregating largely in California, where, later in the century, Iranians were also concentrated. Some recent arrivals from the Middle East maintain national customs such as traditional dress.

Individual and Group Contributions

Countless Jews have made significant contributions to American culture over the years. Only a partial listing of notable names is possible.


Jews have been particularly influential in academia, with ten percent of faculty at American universities comprised of Jews, the number rising to 30 percent at America's top ten universities. Notable Jewish scholars include historians Daniel J. Boorstin (1914– ), Henry L. Feingold (1931– ), Oscar Handlin (1915– ), Jacob Rader Marcus (1896-1995), Abram Sachar (1899– ), and Barbara Tuchman (1912– ), linguist Noam Chomsky (1928– ), Russian literature and Slavic language experts Maurice Friedman (1929– ) and Roman Jakobson (1896-1982), Zionist scholar and activist Ben Halpern (1912– ), and philosophers Ernest Nagel (1901-1985), a logical positivist influential in the philosophy of science, and Norman Lamm (1927– ), Yeshiva University president and founder of the orthodox periodical Tradition.


Jews have had an enormous influence in Hollywood. By the 1930s Jews dominated the film industry as almost all of the major production companies were owned and operated by eastern European Jews. These companies include Columbia (Jack and Harry Cohn), Goldwyn (Samuel Goldwyn—born Samuel Goldfish, 1882), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Louis B. Mayer and Marcus Loew), Paramount (Jesse Lasky, Adolph Zukor, and Barney Balaban), Twentieth Century-Fox (Sol Brill and William Fox), United Artists (Al Lichtman), Universal (Carl Laemmle), and Warner Brothers (Sam, Jack, Albert, and Harry Warner).

Actors/performers: The Marx Brothers— Chico (Leonard 1887-1961), Harpo (Adolph 1888-1964), Groucho (Julius 1890-1977), Gummo (Milton 1894-1977), and Zeppo (Herbert 1901-1979) Jack Benny (Benjamin Kubelsky 1894-1974) George Burns (Nathan Birnbaum 1896– ) Milton Berle (Milton Berlinger 1908– ) Danny Kaye (Daniel David Kominski 1913-1987) Kirk Douglas (Issur Danielovitch 1918– ) Walter Matthau (1920– ) Shelly Winters (Shirley Schrift 1923– ) Lauren Bacall (Betty Joan Perske 1924– ) Sammy Davis, Jr. (1925-1990) Gene Wilder (Jerome Silberman 1935– ) and Dustin Hoffman (1937– ).

Directors: Carl Reiner (1922– ) Mel Brooks (Melvyn Kaminsky 1926– ) Stanley Kubrick (1928– ) Woody Allen (Allen Konigsberg 1935– ) and Steven Spielberg (1947– ).


Mordecai M. Noah (1785-1851) was the most widely known Jewish political figure of the first half of the nineteenth century. A controversial figure, Noah was U.S. consul in Tunis from 1813 to 1815, when he was recalled for apparently mismanaging funds. He went on to serve as an editor, sheriff, and judge. In 1825 he created a refuge for Jews when he purchased Grand Island in Niagara River. The refuge city, of which Noah proclaimed himself governor, was to be a step toward the establishment of a permanent state for Jews.

In 1916 the first Jew joined the U.S. Supreme Court, noted legal scholar Louis Brandeis (1856-1941), whose liberalism and Jewish heritage sparked a heated five-month Congressional battle over his nomination. After his confirmation, Brandeis used his power to help Zionism gain acceptance among Jews and non-Jews alike. Other prominent Jewish Supreme Court jurists include Benjamin Cardozo (1870-1938), a legal realist whose opinions fore-shadowed the liberalism of the Warren court, and Felix Frankfurter (1882-1965), who prior to his Supreme Court appointment had been influential in promoting New Deal policies as a key advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

After the 1994 elections, nine Jews were members of the U.S. Senate: Barbara Boxer (California), Russell Feingold (Wisconsin), Diane Feinstein (California), Herbert Kohl (Wisconsin), Frank Lautenberg (New Jersey), Carl Levin (Michigan), Joseph Lieberman (Connecticut), Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania), and Paul Wellstone (Minnesota). With the exception of Specter, all are Democrats.


During the late nineteenth century Joseph Pulitzer operated a chain of newspapers, many of which often featured stories of public corruption. After his death in 1911, he left funds for the Columbia University School of Journalism and for the coveted annual prizes in his name. Since then, many Jewish journalists have won the Pulitzer Prize, including ABC news commentator Carl Bernstein (1944– ), Washington Post columnist David Broder (1929– ), syndicated columnist and satirist Art Buchwald (1925– ), syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman (1927– ), former New York Times reporter and author David Halberstam (1934– ), journalist Seymour Hersh (1937– ), New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis (1927– ), former New York Times reporter and Harvard journalism professor Anthony J. Lukas (1933– ), New York Times executive editor and author A. M. Rosenthal (1922– ), stylist, humorist, and former presidential speech writer William Safire (1929– ), New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg (1934– ), and journalist and political historian Theodore H. White (1915– ). Other notable Jewish journalists include sportscaster Howard Cosell (William Howard Cohen 1920-1995), Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff (1925– ), NBC television journalist Marvin Kalb (1930– ), financial columnist Sylvia Porter (Sylvia Feldman 1913– ), investigative journalist I. F. Stone (Isador Feinstein 1907– ), "60 Minutes" television journalist Mike Wallace (Myron Leon Wallace 1918– ), and television journalist Barbara Walters (1931– ).


Novelists: Saul Bellow (Solomon Bellows 1915– )— The Adventures of Augie March and Mr. Sammler's Planet E. L. Doctorow (1931– )— Ragtime and Billy Bathgate Stanley Elkin (1930– ) Joseph Heller (1923– )— Catch 22 Erica Jong (Erica Mann 1942– ) — Fear of Flying Jerzy Kosinski (1933-1991)— Being There Ira Levin (1929– )— Rosemary's Baby and Boys from Brazil Norman Mailer (1923– )— The Naked and the Dead and Tough Guys Don't Dance Bernard Malamud (1914-1986)— The Natural and The Fixer Cynthia Ozick (1928– )— The Pagan Rabbi Philip Roth (1933– )— Portnoy's Complaint Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-1991)— In My Father's House Leon Uris (1924– )— Exodus Nathaniel West (Nathan Weinstein 1903-1940)— Miss Lonelyhearts and The Day of the Locust and Herman Wouk (1915– )— The Caine Mutiny and War and Remembrance.

Playwrights: Lillian Hellman (1907-1984)— Children's Hour and The Little Foxes David Mamet (1947– )— American Buffalo and Glengarry Glen Ross and Arthur Miller (1915– )— Death of a Salesman and The Crucible.

Poets: Allen Ginsberg (1926– )—"Howl" and "Kaddish" Stanley Kunitz (1905– )—"Green Ways" and Howard Nemerov (1920-1991).

Essayists/critics: Irving Howe (1920– )— World of Our Fathers and How We Lived Alfred Kazin (1915– )— New York Jew Susan Sontag (1933– )— Against Interpretation and Elie Wiesel (1928– )— Night.


Broadway and popular composers: Irving Berlin (1888-1989)—"Blue Skies," "God Bless America," and "White Christmas" George Gershwin (1898-1937)— Of Thee I Sing and Porgy and Bess (musicals) and "Rhapsody in Blue" Richard Rodgers (1902-1979)— Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music (musicals with Oscar Hammerstein II) Benny Goodman (1909-1986)—"Let's Dance" and "Tiger Rag" (swing band music) pianist, composer, and conductor Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)— West Side Story and Candide (musicals) and On the Waterfront (film score) Burt Bacharach (1929– ) Herb Alpert (1935– ) and Marvin Hamlisch (1944– ).

Classical performers/composers: pianist Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982) violinist Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987) pianist Vladimir Horowitz (1904-1989) violinist Nathan Milstein (1904-1992) violinist Itzhak Perlman (1945– ) operatic soprano Beverly Sills (Belle Silverman 1929– ) and composer Aaron Copeland (1900-1990).

Popular songwriters/performers: Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman 1941– )—"Like a Rolling Stone" and "Blowing in the Wind" Neil Diamond (1941– )—"Solitary Man" and "I'm a Believer" Carole King (Carole Klein 1941– )—"You've Got a Friend" and "Been to Canaan" Paul Simon (1941– ) Art Garfunkel (1941– ) and Barbra Streisand (1942– ).


Perhaps the best known thinker of the twentieth-century is Albert Einstein (1879-1955), the German Jewish physicist who had completed his most important scientific work before coming to America in 1934. Though best known for his theory of relativity, for which he won the Nobel Prize in 1922, Einstein played a critical role in American history as part of team of scientists who researched atomic power during World War II. At that time, Jewish emigres joined native-born Jews in the famous Los Alamos nuclear project that led to the explosion of the first atomic bomb in 1945. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967), Lewis Strauss, and I.I. Rabi (born 1898), all American-born Jews, teamed up with such Jewish immigrant scientists as Einstein, Enrico Fermi (1901-1954), Leo Szilard, Theodor von Karman, and John von Neumann. Einstein was part of "brain drain" of Jews from Nazi Germany that also included psychoanalysts Erich Fromm (1900-1980), Bruno Bettelheim (1903-1990), and Erik Erikson (1902– ), as well as social scientists Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) and Leo Strauss (1899-1973).

Other American Jews made notable contributions to science as well. Albert Michelson, who measured the speed of light, was the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Jonas Salk (1914-1995) and Albert Sabin (1906-1993) discovered polio vaccines during the 1950s, and Robert Hofstadter (1916-1970) won the Nobel Prize for creating a device for measuring the size and shape of neutrons and protons. Medical science pioneer Joseph Goldberger (1874-1929) laid the foundation for modern nutritional science with his study of the dietary habits of poor whites and blacks in the South. Finally, chemist Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) popularized science with his 500 fiction and non-fiction books on science.


Children of Jewish immigrants at the beginning of the twentieth century gravitated toward sports to break up the routine of daily life. Boxing was especially popular, with Jewish boxing champions Abe Attell (Albert Knoehr 1884-1969), Barney Ross (Barnet Rasofsky 1909-1967), and Benny Leonard (Benjamin Leiner 1896-1947), all hailing from New York's Lower East Side. Other world champions from various weight classes for two years or more include Benny Bass (1904-1975), Robert Cohen (1930– ), Jackie Fields (Jacob Finkelstein 1908– ), Alphonse Halimi (1932– ), Louis "Kid" Kaplan (1902-1970), Battling Levinsky (Barney Lebrowitz 1891-1949), Ted Lewis (Gershon Mendeloff 1894-1970), Al McCoy (Al Rudolph born 1894), Charley Phil Rosenberg (Charles Green 1901– ), "Slapsie" Maxie Rosenbloom (1904-1976), and Corporal Izzy Schwartz (1902– ).

Beyond boxing, Jews have made their mark in many other sports as well. The Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Israel includes the following Americans: Red Auerbach (basketball), Isaac Berger (weightlifting), Hank Greenberg (baseball), George Gulak (gymnastics), Irving Jaffe (ice skating), Sandy Koufax (base-ball), Sid Luckman (football), Walter Miller (horse racing), Dick Savitt (tennis), Mark Spitz (swimming), and Sylvia Wene Martin (bowling).


The term Genocide derives from the Latin (genos=race, tribe cide=killing) and means literally the killing or murder of an entire tribe or people. The Oxford English Dictionary defines genocide as “the deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic or national group” and cites the first usage of the term as R. Lemkin, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, (1944) p.79. “By ‘genocide’ we mean the destruction of a nation or an ethnic group.”

The U.N. General Assembly adopted this term and defended it in 1946 as “….a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups.” Most people tend to associate genocide with wholesale slaughter of a specific people. However, “the 1994 U.N. Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of the Crime of Genocide, describes genocide beyond outright murder of people as the destruction and extermination of culture.” Article II of the convention lists five categories of activity as genocidal when directed against a specific “national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.”

These categories are:

  • Killing members of the group
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of group
  • Deliberately infliction on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
  • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Genocide or the deliberate extermination of one ethnic group by another is not new, for example in 1937 the Pequot Indians were exterminated by the Colonists when they burned their villages in Mystic, Connecticut, and then shot all the other people — including women and children — who tried to escape. The United States Government has refused to ratify the U.N. convention on genocide. There are many facets of genocide which have been implemented upon indigenous peoples of North America. The list of American genocidal policies includes: Mass-execution, Biological warfare, Forced Removal from homelands, Incarceration, Indoctrination of non-indigenous values, forced surgical sterilization of native women, Prevention of religious practices, just to name a few.

By mass-execution prior to the arrival of Columbus the land defined as the 48 contiguous states of America numbered in excess of 12 million. Four centuries later, it had been reduced by 95% (237 thousand). How? When Columbus returned in 1493 he brought a force of 17 ships. He began to implement slavery and mass-extermination of the Taino population of the Caribbean. Within three years five million were dead. Fifty years later the Spanish census recorded only 200 living! Las Casas, the primary historian of the Columbian era, writes of numerous accounts of the horrendous acts that the Spanish colonists inflicted upon the indigenous people, which included hanging them en masse, roasting them on spits, hacking their children into pieces to be used as dog food, and the list continues.

This did not end with Columbus’ departure, the European colonies and the newly declared United States continued similar conquests. Massacres occurred across the land such as the Wounded Knee Massacre. Not only was the method of massacre used, other methods for “Indian Removal” and “clearing” included military slaughter of tribal villages, bounties on native scalps, and biological warfare. British agents intentionally gave Tribes blankets that were intentionally contaminated with smallpox. Over 100 thousand died among the Mingo, Delaware, Shawnee and other Ohio River nations. The U.S. army followed suit and used the same method on the Plains tribal populations with similar success.


For a brief periods after the American Revolution, the United States adopted a policy toward American Indians known as the “conquest” theory. In the Treaty of Fort Stansix of 1784, the Iroquois had to cede lands in western New York and Pennsylvania. Those Iroquois living in the United States (many had gone to Canada where the English gave them refuge) rapidly degenerated as a nation during the last decades of the eighteenth century, losing most of their remaining lands and much of their ability to cope. The Shawnees, Miamis, Delawaresm, Ottawans, Wyandots, and Potawatomis watching the decline of the Iroquois formed their own confederacy and informed the United states that the Ohio river was the boundary between their lands and those of the settlers. It was just a matter of time before further hostilities ensued.

"Indian Boarding School" - Cultural Genocide


The Europeans saw themselves as the superior culture bringing civilization to an inferior culture. The colonial world view split reality into popular parts: good and evil, body and spirit, man and nature, head and hear, European and primitive. American Indians spirituality lacks these dualism’s language expresses the oneness of all things. God is not the transcendent Father but the Mother Earth, the Corn Mother, the Great Spirit who nourishes all It is polytheistic, believing in many gods and many levels of deity. “At the basis of most American Native beliefs is the supernatural was a profound conviction that an invisible force, a powerful spirit, permeated the entire universe and ordered the cycles of birth and death for all living things.” Beyond this belief in a universal spirit, most American Indians attached supernatural qualities to animals, heavenly bodies, the seasons, dead ancestors, the elements, and geologic formations. Their world was infused with the divine – The Sacred Hoop. This was not at all a personal being presiding ominpotently over the salvation or damnation of individual people as the Europeans believed.

For the Europeans such beliefs were pagan. Thus, the conquest was rationalized as a necessary evil that would bestow upon the heathen “Indians” a moral consciousness that would redeem their amorality. The world view which converted bare economic self interest into noble, even moral, motives was a notion of Christianity as the one redemptive religion which demands fealty from all cultures. In this remaking of the American Indians the impetus which drove the conquistador’s invading wars not exploration, but the drive to expand an empire, not discovery of new land, but the drive to accumulate treasure, land and cheap labor.

Culture is the expression of a people’s creativity — everything they make which is distinctively theirs: language, music, art, religion, healing, agriculture, cooking style, the institutions governing social life. To suppress culture is to aim a cannonball at the people’s heart and spirit. Such a conquest is more accomplished than a massacre. “We have seen the colonization materially kills the colonized. It must be added that it kills him spiritually. Colonization distorts relationships, destroys and petrifies institutions, and corrupts….both colonizers and the colonized.”

Strategies of targeting American Indian children for assimilation began with violence. Forts were erected by Jesuits, in which indigenous youths were incarcerated, indoctrinated with non-indigenous Christian values, and forced into manual labor. Schooling provided a crucial tool in changing not only the language but the culture of impressionable young people. In boarding schools students could be immersed in a 24 hours bath of assimilation. “The founder of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania , Capt. Richard H. Pratt, observed in 1892 that Carlisle has always planted treason to the tribe and loyalty to the nation at large. More crudely put, the Carlisle philosophy was, “Kill the Indian to save the man.” At the boarding schools children were forbidden to speak their native languages, forced to shed familiar clothing for uniforms, cut their hair and subjected to harsh discipline. Children who had seldom heard an unkind word spoken to them were all too often verbally and physically abused by their white teachers. In short, “there was a full-scale attempt at deracination — the uprooting or destruction of a race and its culture.” A few American Indian children were able to run away, others died of illness and some died of homesickness.

The children, forcibly separated from their parents by soldiers often never saw their families until later in their adulthood, after their value-system and knowledge had been supplanted with colonial thinking. When these children returned from boarding schools they no longer knew their native language, they were strangers in their own world, there was a loss, a void of not belonging in the native world, nor the white man’s world. In the movie “Lakota Women,” these children are referred to as “Apple Children [red on the outside, white on the inside]” they do not know where they fit in, they were unable to assimilate into either culture. This confusion and loss of cultural identity, leads to suicide, drinking and violence. The most destructive aspect of alienation is the loss of power, of control over one’s destiny, over one’s memories, through relationships — past and future.

Jose Noriega’s well-documented historical account of the forced indoctrination of colonial thought into the minds of American Indian children as a means of disrupting the generational transmission of cultural values, clearly demonstrates the cultural genocide employed by the U.S. government as a means of separating the American Indians from their land.


The “Indian Removal” policy was implemented to “clear” land for white settlers. Removal was more than another assault on American Indians’ land titles. Insatiable greed for land remained a primary consideration, but many people now believed that the removal was the only way of saving American Indians from extermination. As long as the American Indians lived in close proximity to non-Native American communities, they would be decimated by disease, alcohol, and poverty. The Indian Removal Act began in 1830. Forced marches at bayonet-point to relocation settlements resulted in high mortality rates. The infamous removal of the Five Civilized Tribes — the Choctaws, Creeks, Chickasaws, Cherokees, and Seminoles — is a dismal page in United States history. By the 1820’s the Cherokees, who had established a written constitution modeled after the United States Constitution, a newspaper, schools, and industries in their settlements, resisted removal. In 1938 the federal troops evicted the Cherokees. Approximately four thousand Cherokees died during the removal process because of poor planning by the United States Government. This exodus to Indian Territory is known as the Trail of Tears. More than one hundred thousand American Indians eventually crossed the Mississippi River under the authority of the Indian Removal Act.


Article II of United Nations General Assembly resolution, 1946: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, as such: (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group. In the mid-1970s a Choctaw-Tsalagi Indian Health Services doctor was approached by a 26-year-old American Indian woman who desired a “wonb transplant.” She had been sterilized when she was 20 at the Indian Health Service hospital in Claremont, Oklahoma. It was discoverd that 75 percent of the Claremont sterilizations were non-therapeutic, that women American Indians were being prompted to sign sterilization forms they didn’t understand, that they were being told the operations were reversible, and that some women were even being asked to sign sterilization papers while they had yet to come out of birthing sedation.

Common Sense magazine reported that the Indian Health Service “was sterilizing 3,000 Indian women per year, 4 to 6 percent of the child bearing population…Dr. R. T. Ravenholt, [then] director of the federal government’s Office of Population, later confirmed that ‘surgical sterilization has become increasingly important in recent years as one of the advanced methods of fertility management’.” Ravenholt’s response to these inquires “told the population Association of America in St. Louis that the critics were ‘a really radical extremist group lashing out at a responsible program so that revolution would occur’.”

From the beginning of European control there has been an unrelenting drive to commit genocide over another culture. The American Indians were a majority so the Europeans called them an enemy. One of the major facts the United States Government has failed to understand is that the spiritual aspect of life is inseparable from the economic and the political aspects. The loss of tradition and memory will be the loss of positive sense of self. Those reared in traditional American Native societies are inclined to relate events and experiences to one another, they do not organize perceptions or external events in terms of dualities or priorities. This egalitarianism is reflected in the structure of American Indian literature, which does not rely on conflict, crises, and resolution for organization.


American Indians felt comfortable with the environment, close to the moods and rhythms of nature, in time with the living planet. Europeans were quite different, viewing the earth itself as lifeless and inorganic, subject to any kind of manipulation or alteration. Europeans tended to be alienated from nature and came to the New World to use the wilderness, to conquer and exploit its natural wealth for private gain.

But for American Indians, the environment was sacred, possessing a cosmic significance equal to its material riches. The earth was sacred — a haven for all forms of life — and it had to be protected, nourished, and even worshipped. Chief Smoholla of the Wanapun tribe illustrated American Native reverence for the earth when he said in 1885:

“God said he was the father of and earth was the mankind that nature was the law that the animals, and fish and plants beyond nature, and that man only was sinful.

You ask me to plow the ground! Shall I take a knife and tear my mother’s bosom?

Then when I die she will not take me to her bosom to rest.

You ask me to dig for stone! Shall I dig under her skin for her bones?

Then When I die I cannot enter her body to be born again.

You ask me to cut grass And make hay and sell it, and be rich like white men!

But how dare I cut off my mother’s hair?

American Indians’ agricultural and medical wisdom had been ignored by the European invaders. In their rush to control the land and people much has passed them by and much has been destroyed. Sadly, what seems to have been almost totally ignored is the American Indians’ knowledge that the Earth is their mother. Because their mother continues to give us life we must care for and respect her. This was a ecological view of the earth.

“There are tens of millions of people around the world who, within only the last few centuries — and some cases only the last few years — have seen their successful societies brutally assaulted by ugly destructive forces. Some American Indian societies have been obliterated. Some peoples have suffered separation from the source of their survival, wisdom, power, and identity: their lands. Some have fallen from the pressure, compromised, moved to urban landscapes, and disappeared, but millions of American Indians, including tens of thousands here in the United States, have gained strength in the face of all their adversity. Their strength is rooted in the earth and deserves to succeed.”

Books used for references and internet addresses:

  1. Mander, Jerry, In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations,” Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, 1992: 349.
  2. Mankiller, Wilma and Wallis, M., A Chief and Her People, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1993: 8.
  3. Memi, Albert, The Colonizer and the Colonized, Boston: Beacon Press, 1965: 151.
  4. Olson, James and Wilson, R., Native American, In the Twentieth Century, University Press, 1988, 11.
  5. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Through Indian Eyes, Pleasantville, New York/Montreal, 1995: 338.
  6. Susan Brill, Bradley U. ([email protected]) Discussion group regarding the genocide of Native peoples.
  7. Federal Indian Policy http://mercury.sfsu.edu.cypher.genocide.html.#children
  8. Trail of Tears http://ngeorgia.com/history/nghisttt.html

[…] The National Council of Churches adopted a resolution branding this event [the landing of Columbus] “an invasion” that resulted in the “slavery and genocide of native people.” In a widely read book, The Conquest of Paradise (1990), Kirkpatrick Sale charged the English and their American successors with pursuing a policy of extermination that had continued unabated for four centuries. Later works have followed suit. In the 1999 Encyclopedia of Genocide, edited by the scholar Israel Charny, an article by Ward Churchill argues that extermination was the “express objective” of the U.S. government. To the Cambodia expert Ben Kiernan, similarly, genocide is the “only appropriate way” to describe how white settlers treated the Indians. (Source)

Sources for Additional Study

Boswell, Thomas D., and James R. Curtis. The Cuban American Experience: Culture, Images, and Perspectives. Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Allanheld, 1983.

Cuban Exiles in Florida: Their Presence and Contribution, edited by Antonio Jorge, Jaime Suchlicki, and Adolfo Leyva de Varona. Miami: Research Institute for Cuban Studies, University of Miami, 1991.

de la Garza, Rodolfo O., et al. Latino Voices: Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban Perspectives on American Politics. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1992.

Morganthau, Tom. "How Can We Say No?" Newsweek, 5 September 1994, p. 29.

Olson, James S. and Judith E. Cuban Americans: From Trauma to Triumph. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1995.

Pérez Firmat, Gustavo. Life on the Hyphen: The Cuban-American Way. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994.

Peterson, Mark F., and Jaime Roquebert. "Success Patterns of Cuban American Enterprises: Implications for Entrepreneurial Communities," in Human Relations 46, 1993, p. 923.

Stone, Peter H. "Cuban Clout," National Journal, February 20, 1993, p. 449.