City of Promises: A History of the Jews of New York

By Schwartz, Shuly Rubin | American Jewish History, January 2014 | Go to article overview

City of Promises: A History of the Jews of New York


Schwartz, Shuly Rubin, American Jewish History


City of Promises: A History of the Jews of New York, 3 vols., ed. Deborah Dash Moore, Written by Howard B. Rock, Annie Polland and Daniel Soyer, Jeffrey S. Gurock. With a Visual Essay by Diana L. Linden. New York: New York University Press, 2013.

In recent years, scholars of the American Jewish experience have rightly insisted upon the necessity of adopting a broad lens to best understand it. Despite the fact that New York has long been the largest and most influential home for American Jews, historians have cautioned us not to neglect the experiences of Jews outside this urban center and have emphasized the distinctive contributions of Southern Jews, Western Jews, Jews in small towns and others, reminding us that no study of American Jewry is complete without them. Moreover, scholars emphasize that the history of Jews in the United States cannot fully be appreciated without contextualizing it within the transatlantic stories of Jewish migration and the experiences of Jews of the Americas. And yet, even as recent scholarship has emphasized breadth, there is much to be gained from concentrating our gaze on the Jews of New York and seeking to understand them within the context of the history of New York City. After all, as we are reminded in Volume One, from the 1830s on, more Jews have lived in New York than in any other American city. As home to the largest population of Jews in the largest city of the United States, New York City has served as center, hothouse, and incubator for so much of modern Jewish life--in America and throughout the world. And even when organizations, events and issues arose outside of New York, the echoes inevitably reverberated in New York City.

Thanks to the three-volume City of Promises, the unique experience of New York Jews has found its worthy chroniclers. The authors masterfully tell the story of Jews in New York City in rich specificity while also illuminating the national narrative. They expertly synthesize voluminous primary sources and current scholarly findings, while still managing to surprise the reader with new anecdotes, perspectives and sources. Without losing sight of the broader narrative, the authors bring flavor and particularity to each era by zeroing in on topics that energize them and demonstrating both the many ways in which historical research can be conducted and the wide variety of sources that can illuminate it.

In Haven of Liberty, Howard Rock trains his scholarly eye on the earliest Jews of the city. An American historian who has devoted his career to an exploration of New York City during the early national period, Rock demonstrates that the emerging concept of republicanism served as the guiding force in the evolution of American Jewish identity. He also makes the case that these early Jews laid the foundations--economically, politically, religiously, philanthropically and socially--for the robust Jewish life that characterizes New York Jewry to this day. Mining sources that have long been available, thanks to pioneering work by Jacob Rader Marcus, Max J. Kohler, Malcolm Stern and others--combing the Asmonean and other sources for fresh insights into this era, and uncovering new material about individual Jewish women and specific institutions--Rock places them all in the context of the emergence of New York as a major city in the new republic. In so doing, Rock offers new insights into figures and events about which we thought we had learned all that we would ever be able to know. For example, Rock demonstrates how Gershom Seixas, spiritual leader of Shearith Israel from the late colonial period until his death in 1816, grappled with and reflected Jeffersonian republican ideology in his sermons. Rock also illustrates the ways in which Jews struggled with internal fissures such as those between Sephardim and Ashkenazic immigrants, and those between competing American and Jewish values. For example, in recounting the founding of Jews' Hospital, Rock discusses the dispute over whether or not to permit autopsies. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

City of Promises: A History of the Jews of New York
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.