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L'Chaim! To Jewish Life in America! Celebrating from 1654 until Today

L'Chaim! To Jewish Life in America! Celebrating from 1654 until Today

by Susan Goldman Rubin, Jewish Museum
Published in association with The Jewish Museum

Coinciding with the 350th anniversary of the first recorded Jewish settlement in North America, this lavishly illustrated introduction to Jewish life is a compilation of compelling first-person reports and well-documented facts. Brimming with photographs, paintings, memorabilia, and other


Published in association with The Jewish Museum

Coinciding with the 350th anniversary of the first recorded Jewish settlement in North America, this lavishly illustrated introduction to Jewish life is a compilation of compelling first-person reports and well-documented facts. Brimming with photographs, paintings, memorabilia, and other artifacts from the renowned Jewish Museum and other sources, and with text by award-winning author Susan Rubin, this book provides readers with a wide range of examples of North American Jewish life all across the U.S. and Canada. This book continues the growing library of Abrams' high-quality, award-winning, and accessible Judaic-content books.

Author Bio: Susan Goldman Rubin is the author of many acclaimed books for children on creative figures, among them Degas, Van Gogh, Gaugin, and Steven Spielberg. Her biography of Margaret Bourke-White was named ALA Best Book for Young Adults and a Smithsonian Notable Book for Children. She lives in Malibu, California.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Published in association with the Jewish Museum, this celebration of "the 350th anniversary of the first recorded Jewish settlement in North America" (according to the preface) takes a sincere approach and brims with wonderful photographs, but falls short in several crucial areas. Rubin's writing comes alive, for instance, when she chronicles the involvement of Jews in the labor movement-the chapter includes compelling characters (such as redheaded Rose, a Polish immigrant, who began working in a cap factory at age 13 and helped organize Local 23) and genuine dramatic tension. But often the narrative takes on a pallid tone (e.g., "On the whole, American Jews, including those who were hardly observant, shared a desire after World War II to give their children a strong Jewish identity"). The history comes across as either stitched-together anecdotes or as grand sweeps that may not leave much of an impression on readers. And the book leaves out the ways in which Jewish children have contributed to (and are often the raison d'etre for) vibrant synagogue life (e.g., the role that summer camps, Hebrew school, youth groups and Jewish community centers have played in forging young American Jewish identities). Still, the photographs are so evocative that they almost compensate for these shortcomings. Among the highlights: an 1893 photograph of a teenage immigrant lost in a book amid the hubbub of a crowded ship headed for America, early 20th-century images of Jewish cowboys looking very much at home on the range, and a 1913 map of America spelling out each state's name phonetically in Hebrew ("Iowa" clearly tested the limits of the Hebrew alphabet). Ages 10-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
The first recorded settlement of Jews in the United States was in 1654; they came looking for religious freedom. For 350 years, they have played a role in building America and retained their heritage. This attractive book features many photographs and images from the The Jewish Museum. Chapters are in chronological order, and topics include Colonial, American Revolution, Immigration, American West, Alaska, World War I and II, and the Great Depression. So many influential people are included in L'Chaim! This would be an excellent resource for research ideas. Fifth- and sixth-graders may find this book useful for information on immigration. 2004, Harry N. Abrams, 173 pp., Ages young adult.
—Ruth Prescott
Children's Literature
Subtitled "Celebrating from 1654 until Today," this encyclopedic volume is a true treasure as it traces the history and culture of the Jews from their first footsteps on American soil. Published in association with The Jewish Museum on the 350th anniversary of Jewish life in America, the book begins: "Chapter 1 - 1654. In early September, 1654, the ship Sainte Catherine docked at the wharf in New Amsterdam, a Dutch town that was soon to be renamed New York. About twenty-three Jews straggled off the ship . . . men, women, and children. All were exhausted after their long, miserable voyage from Recife, formerly a Dutch colony in Brazil, where they could no longer practice their faith. Like the Pilgrims who had arrived thirty-four years earlier, they were seeking religious freedom." The next 150 pages follow the fortunes of this tiny group as they set up in trade, managed to practice their faith and customs in one way or another, married, and lived the incredible saga of a persecuted minority who, to an amazing extent, made lasting contributions to this country and the world. A wealth of gorgeous photographs are presented: marriage documents, quilts, religious articles, architecture, portraits, drawings. An amazing array of names fills its pages: Haym Solomon, the "Financier of the American Revolution;" Rebecca Gratz, founder of Jewish Sunday schools and model for the Rebecca in Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe; Levi Strauss, inventor of Levi jeans; Fiorello La Guardia, beloved mayor of New York City; Irving Berlin and the rest of the Tin Pan Alley composers; Emma Lazarus, whose poetry is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty; Salk and Sabin, Ben and Jerry, Sandy Koufax and Mark Spitz—thelist goes on and on. This book belongs in every home, school and library: It is difficult to imagine anyone who would not be enriched by its story. 2004, Harry N Abrams, Ages 12 up.
—Judy Chernak
This smoothly written, exhaustively researched, and beautifully illustrated book is a primer on the diversity of Jewish life in America from 1654 to the present day. Each of the eighteen chapters-significant because in Hebrew, "l'chaim", meaning "to life," has a numerical value of eighteen-views a historical period through the lives and times of one family and its contemporaries. This approach allows the reader to learn about an almost dizzying array of people, from Revolution-era patriot and financier Haym Solomon and the wild life of early Tucson mayor Charles M. Strauss to the founders of major Hollywood studios, union leader Rose Schneiderman, and modern African American Jews. Although the overall tone of the book is celebratory, an undercurrent of sadness flows beneath the text, reminding readers of the harsh discrimination that Jews have faced throughout history, even in the United States. Amusing trivia, such as the story of how Irving Berlin initially thought the lyrics of "God Bless America" were too schmalzy, bumps up against an account of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire of 1911. A 1932 photograph of the hale-and-hearty staff of Katz's Delicatessen in Manhattan is followed on the next page by a devastating portrait of recently liberated prisoners in their barracks at Buchenwald. The glossary would have benefited from a pronunciation guide, but the endnotes are impeccable, as is the substantial list of references and resources appropriate for younger readers. Beautifully designed and richly informative, this book is highly recommended for school and public libraries. VOYA CODES: 5Q 3P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School,defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2004, Harry N. Abrams, 176p.; Glossary. Index. Illus. Photos. Biblio. Source Notes. Further Reading., Ages 11 to 15.
—Sophie Brookover
Kirkus Reviews
Images from The Jewish Museum beautifully illustrate this history of Jews in America. The story began in 1654 when 23 Jews arrived as settlers in New Amsterdam. Rubin follows American Jewry through both well-known and lesser-known historical scenes. Waves of Jews emigrated from Eastern Europe, and many started as peddlers to become famous Jewish entrepreneurs such as the jeans-manufacturer Levi Strauss, Julius Rosenwald of Sears Roebuck and Hollywood's Samuel Goldwyn and Louis B. Mayer. But Jews also had less-celebrated (but equally fascinating) roles in the history of America. Haym Salomon fought for the revolution with the Sons of Liberty, Josie Sarah Marcus lived as Wyatt Earp's common-law wife and Joseph Lieberman ran for vice-president of the United States. Despite uninspiring writing and book design, the comprehensive illustrations and intriguingly obscure content make this a valuable addition to a collection of American Judaica. (glossary, notes, references, index) (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Product Details

Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.87(w) x 10.37(h) x 0.87(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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