Exodus from Europe: Jewish Diaspora Immigration from Central and Eastern Europe to the United States (1820-1914)

in Perspectives on Global Development and Technology
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This article examines one of the largest exoduses in human history. In less than three decades, over five million Jews from Poland, Germany, and Russia journeyed to what they considered to be the “American Promised Land.” This study serves five main purposes: first, to identify social, political, and economic factors that encouraged this unprecedented migration; second, to examine the extensive communication and transportation networks that aided this exodus, highlighting the roles that mutual aid societies (especially the Alliance Israelite Universelle in Paris, the Mansion House Fund in London, and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in New York City) played in the success of these migrations; third, to analyze this diaspora’s impact on the cultural identity of the Jewish communities in which they settled; fourth, to discuss the cultural and economic success of this mass resettlement; and finally, fifth, identify incidents of anti-Semitism in employment, education, and legal realms that tempered economic and cultural gains by Jewish immigrants to America.

Exodus from Europe: Jewish Diaspora Immigration from Central and Eastern Europe to the United States (1820-1914)

in Perspectives on Global Development and Technology



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Before 1905Jews who held strong religious or political convictions were less likely to emigrate than those who did not. The socialists of the Bund believed that they should stay in Russia and Poland in order to organize the Jewish working class; the Zionists on the other hand viewed America as a false hope not more that the Diaspora aglitter efforts should be directed towards the Holy Land; the Orthodox Jews considered American a jungle of worldliness in which the faith might be destroyed.


In 1890it is estimated that 60 percent of the laborers—mostly Jews working for Jews—were in the garment industry. About eight percent were artisans while some 30 percent were shopkeepers or tradesmen. Conditions in many of garment factories and workplaces during the 1880s and 1890s were deplorable. The goods in the apparel industry were mostly produced in sweatshops. The number of children employed in the needle trades numbered in the thousands.

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