Jews in the South

By Leonard Dinnerstein; Mary Dale Palsson | Go to book overview

Southern Jews: The Two Communities

Theodore Lowi


Introduction

A N ATTEMPT was recently made by Peter Rose to add another piece to the puzzle of the life and ways of American Jews.1 One can only agree with Dr. Rose that the image of Jewish life portrayed by life in the eastern metropolis is incomplete indeed. Not all the conditions of life in the big city extend to non-metropolitan environments where many Jews live. Thus, Rose argues, "Critical examination of Jewish life in the small community would seem to be a logical extension of research in the study of American Judaism and the nature of Jewish-Gentile relations."2

Rose's survey of two small towns in upstate New York adds, as he hoped, a few pieces to the puzzle, but its limitations are as suggestive as its contributions. First of all, he is dealing with a very small segment of American Jewry, and he is leaving out a large slice of life in the larger but non-metropolitan towns and cities, particularly in areas outside the Northeast. Second, in many aspects the small-town rural New York Jews are really very special cases in comparison with all but the metropolitan Jews of the Eastern seaboard. By Rose's own count, over 90 per cent of the Jews in his two rural towns were fairly recent im-

____________________
1
Peter I. Rose, "Small-Town Jews and their Neighbours in the United States," Jewish Journal of Sociology, III (no. 2, December, 1962). My thanks to Professors Nelson W. Polsby, E. H. Mizruchi, L. A. Froman, and Lieut. Bertram H. Lowi, USN, for careful reading and criticism of earlier drafts.
2
Ibid., 1.

-265-

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