Books That Represent The Jewish-American Immigrant Experience

For Jewish-American Heritage Month, this May we are honoring the Jewish immigrant experience through reading! We’ve got five recommendations that act as a time capsule for us to unscrew!

Community Recommendations

May is Jewish-American Heritage Month! As a way to honor those brave immigrants, we’ve gathered a few books for you to read that depict an honest telling of the Jewish-American experience. These are the books that will tell their story, their journey, and how living in America changed them.


In time the books that represent the people who lived it, all share a common goal: surving America. Prior to emigrating to the U.S., Jewish people lived either in Eastern Europe or Israel. Expressly wanting to leave during World War Two. For example, the 1939 United Jewish Appeal offered money and aid to those persecuted. In fact this lead to the biggest emmigration in history. Now compared to all other ethnic Jews, America has the largest community.

1940’s-Current Books That Represent

Amid the 1.75 million Jewish people, a majority lived on the East Coast. In the distance, hatred started growing due to the Great Depression. Coupled with this, Father Charles Coughlin publicized his approval of terrorizing Jews. As well as Henry Ford, who claimed his character was attacked. Consequently, the Jewish divided and created new factions. For instance, schools, jobs, and businesses would impede on the Jewish. In effect today is still racial and cultural bias.

Recommended Books:

1. A Hisory of The Jewish People By H. H. Ben-Sasson

cr. Harvard University

To summarize, this book explains that Jewish people have migrated since the beginning. That is to say each experience was unique, but a shared idea among Jews. In detail, each protest or change in law; even the transition to the collective today represents a change in history. For this reason new immigrants will have dissimilar lives than their ancestors. While more immigrants arrived, the stationed ones began creating communities for new settlers to connect with.

2. The Golden Land By Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

cr, Discover Books

Instead, this second book speaks on living in America with documents and letters to support it. Not to mention the personal effects from Jewish immigrants as well. Equally unique is the fact that Rabbi Joseph is the author who gives first-hand details. Since there are examples this makes the book stand out more and helps make the reader think of what really happened. Also, his reflection on the twentieth century immigration is interesting because this was published in 2002, and shows Rabbi Jospeh is looking back with new eyes.

3. Doing Business In America By Hasia R Diner

cr, Rye Field Books

When Jewish-American immigrants first arrived, people were jealous of the success they had working. With attention to the fact that Jews often made a good salary, Americans thought they had it easy. Thus, Americans condemed them for wanting more money. As a result, Jewish people constructed business as an important part of their culture. Moreover, this book explains in full force the working Jewish people and how their role had an impact on American business.

4. How Come Boys Get To Keep Their Noses? By Tahneer Oksman

cr. Walmart

While the Jews were experiencing racism, there were issues within their own communities. Gender roles adaption in America affected women more than men. Notably men could present themselves as culturally Jewish. At the same time women began to alter their identities. For example, this book talks about how Jewish women had to change. With attention to this issue, the author questions why there is a seperation between men and women for Jews.

5. Why is America Different? By Steven T. Katz


Now that Jewish-Americans have been around for decades they have created new ideas of how to be a Jew. As a result there are now Jewish actors, female rabbis, and Jewish people celebrate American holidays and events as well. In effect there is still racism and religious oppression and Steven T. Katz explains it all in this book about American Jews.

Definitely a unique perspective on the overall experiences they faced. In time Jewish people continued to change what it meant to be a Jew. Seeing the adversity they faced and how they didn’t give up or in to intolerance of their people is an enriching outlook. If Jews continue to change with time, what do you think Judaism will mean in the future?

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