The Immigration Experience-
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They are our grandparents, our relatives, our friends. They
reasons, such as, religious persecution and racial tension, but the
live where we want, to own property, to take part in the government
and most importantly, the freedom to be treated like a human being.
Coming over was extremely difficult. For some, there were
good, seaworthy boats, but most boats were overcrowded, dirty, and
hopefully, most immigrants found the dreadful trip to be worth the
freedom at the other end.
themselves. If the doctor noticed anything wrong he would use a piece
indeed the case, the person would be set aside in a cage.
person a few questions just to find a sensible answer to test mental
stability. The last and most feared doctor checked for disease by
gloves were not sterile, and he did not change or even wash them
between examinations. I, myself, found this disgusting, and dangerous.
Then, immigrants filed into lines by nationality to be
truth or lie. Which answer would make sure that they could stay in
Immigrant Aid Society,” (HIAS) told them to tell the truth, and helped
them through the period between leaving the boat and getting settled
been claimed. Through the ordeal, one thing is certain. All of the
was one feeling that most of these people would probably be exposed to
for the next few months.
There were many restrictions. People with certain diseases
it was decided that Japanese people would not be allowed into America.
This was surely not the land of liberty that had been promised by our
forefathers. One of the nationalities traveling to America were Jews.
They were treated somewhat differently. This was probably because
many of their countries would not accept them.
fled their homeland because of the inquisition. They traveled from
Spain to South America, and then to New Amsterdam. They, at first were
rejected by Peter Stuyvesant, but petitioned the Dutch West India
Company of Amsterdam, Holland, and, eventually were let into the
colony. Stuyvesant was determined to make life hard for the Jews, and
therefore denied them the right to build a synagogue. Luckily, for the
Jews, the colony was soon to be taken over by the British. Under
synagogue in the colony.
Jews in Savannah were accepted, but only to a degree. This was
because of Samuel Nunes, a Jewish doctor who helped to stop a disease
that had already killed many people. Even then, Jews were given land
away from the main town. In the American Revolution Jews did not take
any specific sides. Some believed that the freedom that they had
were too high and joined the Patriots.
Later, in the Civil War, Jews took sides as everyone else.
Their location meant everything. Jews in the north sided with the
Union, and Jews in the south sided with the Confederacy.
Unfortunately, a law was passed by Congress forbidding Jewish
Chaplains in the Union army. Congress later passed a law stating that
chaplains had to be “ministers of some religious denomination,” which
included Christian ministers and Jewish rabbis.
that all Jews in the states of Kentucky and Tennessee were to be
removed. Fortunately, Lincoln cancelled the order as soon as he found
out. Later, between 1880 and 1925, many Jews came to America to escape
anti semitism. One of the acts of anti-semitism was church supported
was legal. There were also laws which discriminated against Jews. In
Russia, a czar had been assassinated, and Jews were blamed out of fear
Most of America’s famous people are descended from immigrants
if they are not immigrants themselves. People, like Albert Einstein, a
America is made of many different cultures, all of which have
contributed to the American way of life. Jews contributed doctors and
well educated and have been involved in many professional, technical,
science, literature, entertainment, and many other things to our
culture. Our culture is derived from many different ones, and cannot
be broken down into which group contributes what because each group
has done so much.
All this proves that Americans are not just one people. We are
individuals from different cultures. We are different, but we are all
“Asian Americans” Grolier’s Online Encyclopedia. 1991 ed.
“Chinese Exclusion Act” Grolier’s Online Encyclopedia. 1991 ed.
“Ellis Island” Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia. 1986 ed.
December 1983: 36
Brace Jovanovich, 1976
Interview with Mollie Greenblatt, Brooklyn, New York 1991