way by the people of the United States of America. By the time
of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, there were
only 2500 Jews in America. For forty years beginning in 1840,
250,000 Jews (primarily from Germany, Hungary, and Bohemia)
entered this country. Anti-Semitism and economic woes in Eastern
Europe went from bad to worse after the pogroms of 1881-1882.
Almost three million Eastern European Jews left between 1881 and
1914, two million (85%) of which decided to come to America,
where they thought "the streets were paved with gold." They were
wrong. Because of this intercontinental migration, the social
characterization of Jews in America changed drastically. Before
the move, the largest group in the early eighteenth century were
the Sephardic Jews. They lived in the coastal cities as merchants,
artisans, and shippers. The Jews who predominately spoke German
came to America over 100 years later, and quickly spread out over
the land. Starting as peddlers, they moved up to business
positions in the south, midwest, and on the west coast. New York
City had 85,000 Jews by 1880, most of which had German roots. At
this time in American history, the government accepted many people
from many different backgrounds to allow for a diverse population;
this act of opening our borders probably is the origin of the
descriptive phrase "the melting pot of the world."
These German Jews rapidly assimilated themselves and their
faith. Reform Judaism arrived here after the Civil War due to the
advent of European Reform rabbis. Jewish seminaries, associations,
and institutions, such as Cincinnati's Hebrew Union College, New
York's Jewish Theological Seminary, the Union of American Hebrew
Congregations (UAHC), and the Central Conference of American
Rabbis, were founded in the 1880s.
America was experimenting with industry on a huge scale at
the time the Eastern... [continues]
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