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The Jews of Boston Paperback – July 1, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This book of essays and photographs, released in hardcover in 1995 to critical acclaim, is now available in an updated, revised paperback edition at less than half the hardcover asking price. The content is outstanding. The essays (by Brandeis University's Sarna, museum curator Smith, and a host of other scholars) are at once weighty and accessible to general readers who are interested in the history of Boston's Jews. From the first recorded Jew in the city (Solomon Franco, in 1649) to the 21st century, this volume organizes the Jewish experience into chronological and thematic order, with various essays addressing assimilation, synagogues, philanthropy, Zionism, education and culture. More than 100 illustrations and photographs bring history to life: we see images of community centers and synagogues, yes, but we also see Jewish life in action: customers waiting outside a kosher butchery in Brookline; a multiracial klezmer musical troupe at the New England conservatory; a ladies' auxiliary of Beth Israel hospital in 1915. The book contains some new material not in the 1995 edition, including an essay by a Boston College historian on Jewish-Christian relations, and a piece by Sarna and Kosofsky on developments since 1995. More than just a community history, this excellent book uses Boston's experience as a window into understanding American Judaism more generally.
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From Booklist

Twelve essays by Jewish historians trace Boston's Jewish community from its colonial beginnings to the present, a span of nearly 350 years. Sarna begins with his essay on the historical perspective of the Jews, followed by two essays by Smith. The first, on the Jews of colonial Boston, goes back to 1649, when the first Sephardic scholar and trader arrived from Holland. Her second essay focuses on Jewish immigration to the city between 1840 and 1880 and how the Jews began to prosper in the late 1870s. Other essays discuss the emergence of a unified community, 1880 to 1917; the period from 1917 to 1967, when the Jewish population grew from an estimated 75,000 to 176,000; and the period between 1967 and 1994, a time of social change. Others focus on Boston's Jewish neighborhoods, Zionism, and the city's synagogues. And there are essays assessing Boston Jewish philanthropy, education, and culture. More than 250 historic photographs, engravings, and documents complement the text. George Cohen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300107870
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300107876
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 1.1 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #994,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By David M. Dougherty VINE VOICE on August 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book because it covered Jews in Colonial American and my prior knowledge had been confined to the very small Jewish communities (only a few dozen families) in New York City, Newport, Rhode Island, and Philadelphia before and during the Revolutionary War. I was somewhat disappointed to find that the Jew who came to Boston in 1649 remained in the colonies for less than three months. Others came and went for another century and apparently only one resided in Boston in 1695. New York remained the dominant Jewish community throughout and a permanent Jewish community was not truly established in Boston until 1843 when enough emigrants had arrived to ensure consistent minyanim.

Of note is that Protestants in America including those in Boston actively recruited Jews from Central Europe to emigrate in the early 19th century. They sincerely hoped (and expected) the Jews would convert to Christianity and saw themselves as saviors doing God's work in saving Jewish souls. Of course, the reality was that few converted.

The essays that make up this book are extremely well written although they add a gloss for the average reader. It is intended to generate a sense of pride in the Jewish community, and no doubt succeeds handsomely. Certainly this volume far eclipses works presenting histories of other ethnic and religious groups in the US such as Roman Catholics, Scotch-Irish, Germans, Presbyterians, etc. But the most valuable aspect for the non-Jew is that this volume presents the lives and histories of Jews for Jews, not Jews as how they want to be seen by non-Jews. Their posture towards a benevolent US, albeit heavily laced with virulent strains of anti-semitism, is fascinating.
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This review is from: The Jews of Boston (Paperback)

Being a second-generation West Ender and having to leave the West End by eminent domain, "The Jews of Boston" evoked a floodgate of emotions in me from which to reflect, learn, and view from photos. Granted, there is only a small section devoted to the West End, but it was also important and interesting to learn of the other Jewish neighborhoods in the Boston area. This book gives an excellent historical account of the struggles our people had to confront during the turn of the last century as they settled into Boston.

This book is very well written. Very informative. I like it very much! If you are a Jew from Boston, then you will feel very comfortable in immersing yourself in the history, geography and knowledge which can be found within these pages. You will get a sense of what type of life your parents/grandparents endured.

L'Chaim to nostalgia as we walk down memory lane.....!

S.
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This is an excellent book for those interested in the history of Boston's Jewish community. It is well researched, has lots of interesting photos, and was perfect for my husband who needed some specific information regarding a person who had lived early in the 20th century.
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This work makes a good addition to a personal library for someone interested in genealogy of Jewish families in Boston, as I am.
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