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Lower East Side Memories: A Jewish Place in America Paperback – March 3, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0691095455 ISBN-10: 0691095450 Edition: New Ed

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; New Ed edition (March 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691095450
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691095455
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #793,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

New York City's Lower East Side is understood by many to be the epicenter of Jewish American heritage, culture and history. From egg creams to the Yiddish theater, from "real" rye bread to Al Jolson and The Jazz Singer, this "Jewish ghetto," as it was known in the 1920s, was thought to be the place where all Jews immigrated and lived. In this inventive and often startling reevaluation of popular belief, Diner (the Steinberg professor of Jewish American history at New York University) examines the historical reality of the Lower East Side. In accessible prose, she charts "the sacralization" of this neighborhood in the 1940s, and shows how "the Lower East Side has become fixed in American Jewish memory as the site from which a single story has been told," even though there were Jewish communities all over New York City and the rest of the country. Likening the legend of the Lower East Side to that of Plymouth Rock, Diner examines such diverse texts as Irving Howe's The World of Our Fathers, Mickey Katz's Jewish comedy records of the 1950s, Disney's animated film An American Tale, Henry Roth's Call It Sleep and the famous "Simpsons" parody of The Jazz Singer, to show how postwar and post-Holocaust Jewish culture mythologized immigration to the Lower East Side and, after that, integration into mainstream American culture as a universal story of Jewish freedom. Diner's research and conclusions are both convincing and original. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Yiddish is a near-dead language. Anti-Semitism, once openly expressed, is now frowned upon, at least publicly. Many American Jews feel threatened by the drive for assimilation. Thus, for many Jews, including those outside of New York, the Lower East Side conjures up an image of a lost world and elicits a wistful nostalgia. Diner is professor of American Jewish history at New York University. Of course, she examines the Lower East Side as it actually existed, and that reality included considerable squalor, disease, and hopelessness. But she is also concerned with the creation of a "memory culture." In that culture, this predominantly Jewish neighborhood was a shining light of Jewish homogeneity, where Jews could be "fully Jewish," untainted by assimilation, suburbanization, and ascension to the middle class. This is both an enjoyable and an important contribution to local and ethnic history. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on January 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Hasia Diner is the Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History at New York University. In Lower East Side Memories: A Jewish Place In America, she recounts the history of Manhattan's Lower East Side in terms of its Jewish community, largely populated by immigrants from Eastern Europe. During the years 1880-1930 it was never ethnically (or even religiously) homogenous. It was a place of tenements, poverty, sweatshops, packs of roaming children, a dark warren of pushcart-lined streets and social work pioneering. Professor Diner surveys its popular culture, and the impact of the Lower East Side as an icon symbol upon such diverse venues as children's stories, novels, movies, museum exhibits, television shows, summer-camp reenactments, walking tours, consumer catalogues -- even photos hung on deli walls. After World War II the Lower East Side was enshrined as the portal through which Jews passed from European oppression into the promise of America. After 1960, the Lower East Side gave secularized and suburban Jews a culturally transmitted story of their origins and heritage. Lower East Side Memories is an exceptional, informative, highly recommended history of a community, a heritage, and a cultural identity arising from one of the most distinctive and unique neighborhoods in American twentieth century history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Johnny 1955-2055 on November 14, 2014
Format: Paperback
A truly wonderful book for Jewish and non-Jewish, New Yorker and non-New Yorker alike. This is not a tourist guide to the LES, so if you're looking for a travel book this isn't it.

What it is goes deep into what it is to be Jewish in America, whether you or your family ever lived in NY. The book explains how the LES came to represent Jewishness in America, how people looked at it as a common factor in their lives. Even though more Jews settled in Brooklyn and Harlem than on the LES, that one area has come to represent everything Jewish in America.

Reading this book will give you an idea of what people relocating from Russia, Eastern Europe, Poland, etc, faced upon arrival in this country. Beyond that though it shows why people still fell drawn to the LES generations later.

A truly great book that needs to be read by everyone since we are all newcomers to America.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Kitchen on July 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is a very good book ,extremely well researched; This is one book that will keep on my shelves.I just wish that it had been available in Kindle format.
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