Growing up Jewish in America: An Oral History

Overview

The childhood reminiscences of a hundred men and women as young as 22 and as old as 99 combine to create a unique portrait of Jewish-American life in the twentieth century, with all its vibrancy, complexity, humor, and contradictions. Here are memories of how place stamped personality in landscapes as diverse as Auburn, Maine, and Mitchell, South Dakota; Brooklyn, New York, and Laredo, Texas; Seattle, Washington, and Westminster, South Carolina; and countless gilded suburbs. Some recollections are common to most ...
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Overview

The childhood reminiscences of a hundred men and women as young as 22 and as old as 99 combine to create a unique portrait of Jewish-American life in the twentieth century, with all its vibrancy, complexity, humor, and contradictions. Here are memories of how place stamped personality in landscapes as diverse as Auburn, Maine, and Mitchell, South Dakota; Brooklyn, New York, and Laredo, Texas; Seattle, Washington, and Westminster, South Carolina; and countless gilded suburbs. Some recollections are common to most growing-up-in-America sagas; others are unique to the Jewish experience.

These childhood memories of 100 men and women, ranging in ages from 22 to 99, combine to create a unique portrait of Jewish-American life in the 20th century, with all its vibrancy, complexity, humor and contradictions. Some recollections are common to most growing-up-in-America sagas, others are undeniably unique to the Jewish experience. of photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Jewish Book World
The subject of Jewish childhood in America is researched through personal interviews with 100 men and women ages 22 to 99. Their memories of growing up in places all over the United States, from big cities to small towns, reveal how each locale had its own impact on the individual personalities. While there is great diversity, there are also common experiences, and the personal narratives are both unique and typical at the same time.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Compilers of two previous oral histories, the Frommers (It Happened in Brooklyn) here mix the experiences of some 100 interviewees-a good fraction of them writers or Jewish community officials-into a rich mosaic portrait. They cover much ground, from life in New England (``a benignly non-Jewish environment''), the isolating South and the comforting frenzy of New York. Interviewees discuss politicization, the impact of the Holocaust, the effects of Zionism and the ongoing tensions about assimilation and anti-Semitism. Some anecdotes are arresting, and all are quite short. Thus, this book is an accessible introduction to the varieties of the American Jewish experience, but the reader is reminded that there exists a rich body of reportage, fiction and memoir that delves far deeper into such stories. Photos. (Nov.)
Library Journal
In another popular history, the Frommers It Happened in Brooklyn, LJ 11/1/93 have produced a breezy but informative look at Jewish childhood in 20th-century America. What makes this book tick is the wide variety of people profiled and their unique life stories. They show what it is like to be a Jewish child in various geographical regions in various times and how anti-Semitism is a common experience to all. And they show how even Jews brought up in orphanages or residing temporarily in refugee camps can find creative expression for their experiences. In many ways this is a reassuring book. The interviewees are not all of one Jewish movement or outlook, and yet most have a positive Jewish identity. The only criticism is that the reader would like to hear more about a number of the truly remarkable people illuminated here. This easily digested book will circulate well in medium-sized libraries serving a Jewish or diverse clientele.-Paul Kaplan, Lake Villa Dist. Lib., Ill.
Aaron Cohen
The most compelling reason to study twentieth-century Jewish life in America is to hear and read the wealth of amazing stories, vivid anecdotes, memories, and wisdom, a diverse array of which the Frommers have collected. The participants in this oral history range from the grandson of a Civil War veteran to a journalist who was born during Israel's Six Day War. Some of those who discuss their lives are well known, such as media critic Neil Postman, but each person's stories enlighten. An account of riding freight cars as a teenager during the Great Depression and another about farming in South Dakota during the 1950s are as revealing as the more common descriptions of New York's Lower East Side. There's even a story about the discovery of Ivory Soap. Moreover, the Frommers find several intriguing threads that link the contributors' outlooks, despite differences in age and geography. Chapters about the Holocaust, communal ties, and rituals reveal that traditions have been maintained amid the temptations of comfortable assimilation. This thought-provoking amalgam should please ethnography students of all stripes.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780151001323
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/15/1995
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 7.36 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 1.13 (d)

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