Unfinished People: Eastern European Jews Encounter America

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9780393322408: Unfinished People: Eastern European Jews Encounter America

Winner of the National Jewish Book Award, a seminal work of history on immigrant Jewish life in early twentieth-century New York.

Nearly three million Jews came to America from Eastern Europe between 1880 and the outbreak of World War I, filled with the hope of life in a new land. Within two generations, these newcomers settled and prospered in the densely populated Yiddish-speaking neighborhoods of New York City. Against this backdrop, Ruth Gay narrates their rarely told story―a unique and vibrant portrait of a people in their daily trials and rituals―bringing alive the vitality of the streets, markets, schools, synagogues, and tenement halls where a new version of America was invented in the 1920s and 1930s. An intimate, unforgettable account, Unfinished People is a singular act of expressing in words the richly textured lives of a resilient people. "A touching and funny evocation...marvelous in its detail.... This is history as day-to-day living―irrevocable and unforgotten."―Alfred Kazin

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Review:

Ruth Gay's writing traverses the paths of history from the microcosm of personal memoir to millennial histories of peoples and nations. In The Jews of Germany, she traced one and a half centuries of Jewish life in Europe. In Unfinished People, Gay describes the lives of Jewish immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe and the process through which they forged new cultural identities in America. The materials for Gay's examination of Jewish life range from historical essays to personal remembrances. Short vignettes describe the role of Yiddish theater, the changing fashions of dress and family life, and her studied opinions on Jewish-American history and identity. Her opinions are sharp and her exposition is lucid and informative.

From the Back Cover:

Nearly three million Jews came to America from Eastern Europe between 1880 and the outbreak of World War I. For the most part, they were young, single, unskilled, uneducated, and yet filled with hope of a new life in a new land. In Unfinished People, Ruth Gay fills in the rarely told story of the newcomers in New York in the 1920s and 1930s. Once past the first shock of entry, the young immigrants moved to their dream neighborhoods - in this case the Bronx - where they invented their own version of America. Reveling in the luxuries of steam heat and indoor plumbing, they rebuilt a familiar world of synagogues, schools, and stores, but with a difference. Using homely detail, Gay describes how they dared to become "up-to-date" Americans.

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Book Description WW Norton Co, United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Nearly three million Jews came to America from Eastern Europe between 1880 and the outbreak of World War I, filled with the hope of life in a new land. Within two generations, these newcomers settled and prospered in the densely populated Yiddish-speaking neighborhoods of New York City. Against this backdrop, Ruth Gay narrates their rarely told story-a unique and vibrant portrait of a people in their daily trials and rituals-bringing alive the vitality of the streets, markets, schools, synagogues, and tenement halls where a new version of America was invented in the 1920s and 1930s. An intimate, unforgettable account, Unfinished People is a singular act of expressing in words the richly textured lives of a resilient people. A touching and funny evocation.marvelous in its detail.This is history as day-to-day living-irrevocable and unforgotten. -Alfred Kazin. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780393322408

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