Being Jewish


Being Jewish Essay, Research Paper

According to the Jewish tradition being Jewish, means serving a God. However, if you were born Jewish in the Eastern Europe then you were persecuted against. You must not practice Judaism in the world of communism. That is why my family as many millions Jewish families immigrated to the United States-to seek freedom on the “shores of the country of freedom”. Moving from place to place through European history, they had no land that they could call home. We can agree with Catherine Albanese, who writes “Like Native Americans, the Jews were often forced to wander by the misfortunes of history. Like Native Americans, too, they dwelled in small, homogeneous communities in which religion and peoplehood were inextricably blended. ” The Jews from Eastern Europe , from countries like the Soviet Union, Rumania, Poland, and Austria-these people had to endure hardship and persecution. In countries like Poland and Russia instituted official policies of persecution to offset any possible liberal tendencies. Such persecution equaled that inflicted on Jews during medieval times, particularly after the partition of Poland and the incorporation of eastern Poland into the Russian Empire between 1772 and 1796. The new Russian territory contained most of the Polish Jews, on whom severe restrictions were imposed. Jews were forbidden to live outside specific areas, and their educational and occupational opportunities were directly determined. In addition, the imperial government encouraged and even financed periodic massacres of Jews, called pogroms, in order to divert the attention of the Russian populace from their discontent with the feudalistic system still prevailing in the late 19th century. The government instituted even sterner anti-Jewish measures as it tried to isolate and render ineffective any possible political influence by Russian Jews, who were importing western European ideas and knowledge into Russia. This intense persecution endured until the Russian the czarist regime in 1917. As a result of the pogroms, between 1890 and the end of World War I (1914-1918), about 2 million Jews emigrated to the United States from areas under Russian control. Other colonies of eastern European Jews were founded in Canada, South America (notably in Argentina), the Union of South Africa, and Palestine. Russian Revolution promised Jews freedom. However, freedom never came to a “jewish home”. In 1924, more than 250 sinogogues were closed; more than 200 jewish schools were closed. . In the civil war that followed the Bolshevik Revolution, Jews were widely regarded as allies of the Bolsheviks. Thousands of Jews were murdered in pogroms by anti-Bolshevik forces. On the eve of the Second World War the Jewish population totalled over 1.5 million. Some Ukrainian nationalist forces welcomed the Nazi invaders of the Soviet Union as liberators and joined them, forming the Galician SS divisions. Many Ukrainians actively participated in the rounding-up and murder of Ukrainian Jews. Ukrainian Jewry was decimated in the Holocaust. The October 1917 Revolution brought to an end a long history of institutionalized antisemitism in tsarist Russia and accorded the Jewish minority equal rights Jewish victims of the Nazi occupation of the Soviet Union numbered approximately 2 million. In Stalin’s last years an institutionalized anti-Jewish campaign culminated in the so-called “doctors’ plot”, an alleged assassination attempt on the Soviet dictator by a group of Jewish doctors.Despite Khrushchev’s policy of de-Stalinization, his rule was not lacking of anti-Jewish elements.This was particularly demonstrated by the so-called economic trials, in which an apparently disproportionate number of defendants were Jews. In 1963 “Judaism Without Embellishment”, a book by the Soviet Ukrainian writer Trofim Kichko published in Kiev Ukraine), evoked a worldwide protest, in particular over its Nazi-style cartoons. It was eventually withdrawn by the Soviet authorities. In the Brezhnev era, an anti-Zionist propa-ganda campaign aimed at countering the emigration sentiment of Soviet Jews was influenced by a number of anti-Jewish propagandists who introduced classical antisemitic theses under a Marxist-Leninist gloss. Following the collapse of the Soviet regime, the rights of the Jewish minority have been fully respected by the government of President Yeltsin. The emigration of Jews to Israel or to the United States, motivated in part by perceptions of antisemitism among Russia’s population. In spite all of this, nothing could stop the true believers to be adherent to jewish religion. My parents told me in order for them to read the Torah, they would secretly gather at someone’s house and read “the word of God”. That is again was the reason why we(my family) came to the United States. All of my relatives live in Chicago. Now according a book “Jews in Chicago” we can find some interesting facts about Jews in the windy city. Author of that book, Irving Cutler tells us the history of Chicago’s Jews. With its ordinary audacity, the city that had been almost destroyed by the Great Fire of 1871 hosted the great World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, erecting the fairgrounds on what seemed to be an impossible sandy lakeshore site in the recently annexed Hyde Park-Woodlawn area. Chicago’s population at that time had risen to almost 1.5 million, of whom about seventy thousand were Jewish.

The majority of the Jews in the city at the time of the fair, about fifty thousand, were recently arrived Eastern European Jews, concentrated largely around Maxwell Street and increasing very rapidly in numbers. They lived in a crowded “Jew-town” that resembled in many ways the shtetlach from which so many had come. Less than a third of the Jewish population, about twenty thousand, consisted of the original German-speaking Jewish settlers and their descendants. These German Jews, living mainly on the South Side, were generally well established, quite Americanized, and accepted by the non-Jewish population. The more Americanized Jewish community strongly supported the fair by purchasing its capital stock, serving in its administrative management, and participating in its major events. By taking part in the fair, a number of important Jewish organizations evolved, as did strong local leadership and cooperative elements among the city’s Jews. The fair also brought the rapidly rising city of Chicago to the attention of Jews throughout Europe. The event at the fair that most interested the Jewish community was the World’s Parliament of Religions. Representatives of all world faiths were invited to attend and present papers or be discussants on a variety of themes, including the current state of religion and of their particular religion. In this non-discriminatory atmosphere, which would have been unheard of in Europe, Jewish leaders such as Dr. Emil G. Hirsch, Rabbi A. J. Messing, Dr. Bernhard Felsenthal, Dr. Joseph Stolz, Dr. Kaufmann Kohler, Dr. Isaac Mayer Wise, , which included three sessions on Judaism. The congress was followed by the four-day Jewish Women’s Congress led by Hannah Greenebaum Solomon, whose family were prominent Chicago Jews of German background. It was the first national gathering of Jewish women and it had a large attendance. Papers dealt with topics such as Jewish women and religion, women in the workforce, and religion in the home. The final session included a paper entitled “Organization,” by Sadie American, a social worker and a native Chicagoan, who made an impassioned plea for the formation of a Jewish women’s organization. She stated: “Not again may we have together so many women from all parts of our country drawn hither for the purpose of representing Judaism at its best. Let us form an organization whose object shall be spreading the understanding of and devotion to the highest type of Judaism, in whose service shall be part every faculty of our being.” Immediately thereafter, what later became one of the national’s leading Jewish organizations, the National Council of Jewish Women, was founded, with Hannah Greenebaum Solomon as president and Sadie American as secretary. Most of its early members were of German Jewish descent. The NCJW is dedicated to the furtherance of human welfare in the Jewish and general community through education, service, and social action. The Chicago section was the founding section; today there are over 100,000 members nationally. Through the years the group has aided immigrants and refugees; provided job placement services; created educational opportunities both at home and abroad (including in Israel); aided the young, old, and handicapped in a variety of ways; and fought for beneficial social legislation. Hannah Greenebaum Solomon went on to serve as president of the NCJW for twelve years and was also founder and longtime president of the Bureau of Personal Service, which provided social services for the immigrants. She was a prominent civic reformer and friend and collaborator of Jane Addams and one who worked hard to preserve and promote Judaism in the face of a trend toward assimilation. The chairman of the exposition’s Committee on the Congress of Religions, Dr. Barrows, lauded the Jewish community for its help with the fair: “I do not forget, I am glad to remember, that devout Jews, lovers of humanity, have co-operated with us in this Parliament: that these men and women representing the most wonderful of all races and the most persistent of all religions, who have come with good cause to appreciate the spiritual freedom of the United States of America; that these friends . . . have zealously and powerfully cooperated in this work.” The importance of the World’s Parliament of Religion and its related events was summarized in a speech by Dr. Hirsch: “We are glad of this opportunity to invite the world to the secrets of our faith and the ultimate tendency of our hopes. And we shall be glad when men have heard us, they shall say: Why, you Jews are not different from us; you are men as we are; your hopes are our hopes; your beliefs are our beliefs. And why should the world not say this? Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us all?” Now in Chicago there are more than 150 synagogues. Now Jewish of Chicago do not have to worry about freedom of their religion. My family and I go to synagogue on Friday evening. I am glad that we can do it openly, without hidding.

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