Sunday, September 27, 2015

City of Promises: A Trilogy on the History of Jewish New York

Haven of Liberty: New York Jews in the New World, 1654-1865 (City of Promises)

Emerging Metropolis: New York Jews in the Age of Immigration, 1840-1920 (City of Promises)

Jews in Gotham: New York Jews in a Changing City, 1920-2010 (City of Promises)

General Editor: Deborah Dash Moore
Written by Howard B. Rock, Annie Polland and Daniel Soyer, Jeffrey S. Gurock With a Visual Essay by Diana L. Linden

The three-volume series was the winner of the 2012 Jewish Book of the Year Award as named by the National Jewish Book Council.

Comprehensive and ambitious, it can be a dry read at times.

Volume I takes us back to pre-colonial America where we see the first Jews arriving to New Amsterdam.  Howard B. Rock shows us how they were challenged by both the politics and economics of the time.  However, they overcame those barriers and soon laid the foundation for what would eventually become a thriving Jewish community.

Volume II, written by Annie Polland and Daniel Soyers, takes us through the next few decades of Jewish New York.  Perhaps because of the time period that it covers, this volume was a dry read and one that I had to fight the verge to sleep just to read it.  This volume focuses in on how Jews built their surrounding environments: tenements, banks, shuls, shops, stores, and settlement houses. It shows how complex that the Jewish immigrant society was in this era.

Volume III, by Jeffrey S. Gurock, takes us all the way up through modern times.  How shows how the Jewish neighborhood life has become the most distinct feature of New York City.  NYC is still the capital of American Jewry because of the deep roots in worlds that supported diversity in politics, religion, and economics.

The account of Jewish New York is the first of its kind and Diana Linden's visual essay complements the three volumes.

No comments: