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How Jewish Immigrants Left An Imprint On American Culture

How Jewish Immigrants Left An Imprint On American Culture

Celebrating Jewish Immigrants’ Contributions 

Magazine, The Immigrant Experience

America is known as the nation of immigrants. Immigration is the foundation of the United States, and it has the largest immigrant population in the world. Currently, about 47 million immigrants reside in the US, which makes up almost 15% of the total US population and 18% of international immigrants worldwide. 

This immigrant population is diverse, as people from different ethnic and geographic backgrounds have opted to become a part of this great nation. These immigrants faced odd circumstances during their early days on American soil, but they not only became an integral part of the social fabric but also added a great value to its very foundations, besides strengthening the economy and diversifying the cultural values. 

Among these immigrants were Jews who faced resistance, oppression, and discrimination soon after they reached the US. But nothing could stop the 23 Jewish refugees – who had reached the port of present-day New York City on a small ship in 1654 – in their quest for settling on American soil. 

Wading through the precarious situations with courage and strong determination, the group of these wretched Jews finally succeeded in securing their right to achieve the American dream as the first-ever Jewish community in the US. 

The resilience and commitment these Jewish immigrants exhibited during the 17th century paved the way for Jewish immigration from other parts of the world to the US, besides defining the bedrock principles upon which the American nation was built. 

They faced antisemitism but made massive efforts to help other Jewish immigrants during the period of mass migration. As an established community of Jewish immigrants, they created a solid network of welfare societies, educational facilities, settlement houses, and charities that not only helped ward off increased antisemitism but also facilitated their newly arrived Jews fellows. Moreover, such initiatives became models of the new field of social work for all Americans during the Progressive Era and beyond. 

In addition, Jewish immigrants brought skill sets that were in sync with the economic needs of the US. Among them were merchants, artisans, peddlers, and garment workers that geared the industrial expansion in America. Jewish Immigrants also contributed greatly to American progressive and labor movements besides significantly contributing to the American economy. They strengthened the garment industry, created thousands of businesses, and influenced American politics by playing an active role. 

In all, the Jewish immigrants helped America heavily in becoming the global leader through their worthwhile scientific discoveries and incontrovertible political and social struggle for securing the rights of the abused and neglected segments of society not only in America but elsewhere in the world.

Some Notable  Jewish immigrants/Families.

  • Paula Abdul, American singer, songwriter, choreographer, dancer, television personality and actress of Syrian Jewish descent
  • Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg), Yiddish-speaking film director, writer, actor, musician, and stand-up comedian; raised in an Orthodox Jewish family
  • Stephen Spielberg, American-born Director of Hungarian descent
  • Barbara Walters, American broadcast journalist, author, and television personality of Polish Jewish descent
  • Albert Einstein, German born scientist
  • Wolf Blitzer, German-born CNN Anchor
  • J. J. Abrams, American born director, helmed the rebooted “Star Trek” series and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
  • Jerry Seinfeld, American stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and television and film producer of Hungarian Jewish descent; best-known for his role on Seinfeld
  • Barbra Streisand, two-time Academy Award-winning singer, theatre and film actress, songwriter, composer, and film producer and director
  • Gloria Steinem, feminist, journalist, and social and political activist and co-founder of Ms. Magazine
  • Stephen Sondheim,
  • Elie Wiesel, writer, professor, political activist, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize, 1986
  • Sergey Brin, Russian-born American computer scientist and internet entrepreneur, co-founder of Google
  • William Fox Motion Picture Pioneer. Founder of the Fox Film Corporation.
  • Ruth Handler Co-founder and President of Mattel, creator of the Barbie Doll
  • Larry Page, computer scientist and internet entrepreneur, co-founder of Google
  • Dr. Edward Land co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation
  • Ralph Levitz, Known as the co-founder of Levitz Furniture, the largest furniture retail (“wholesale showrooms”) in the US from 1968 thru the early 2000’s.
  • Helena Rubenstein, American businesswoman and entrepreneur, founder of the cosmetic line, descendant of a distinguished rabbinical family
  • Fred Zadek Salomon, German American businessman, founded Salomon Bros., the first general merchandise store in Denver.
  • Louis Bry, German American businessman, founded Bry’s Department Store in Memphis.
  • Howard Schultz, German American businessman and entrepreneur; best-known as the chairman and CEO of Starbucks
  • Hans Zimmer, German-born composer of film music, winner of four Grammy Awards, three Classical BRIT Awards, two Golden Globes, and one Oscar.
  • Levi Strauss, German-born American businessman and entrepreneur; founder of Levi Strauss & Co. clothing company
  • Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., businessman, publisher and chairman of the New York Times
  • James Warburg, American banker and financial adviser to Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Mark Zuckerberg, computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur, co-founder and CEO of FacebookConclusion 

There is no second opinion to the fact that America has been the greatest nation on earth. This oldest democracy experienced many odds, yet it managed to flourish constantly due to the splendid efforts and sacrifices of many people who migrated to the US and took the responsibility of American citizenship even when they fully understood that democracies are neither born nor sustained by accident.

 Jewish immigrants were among these people who provided inspiration for our ideological foundations. We should acknowledge and celebrate their enormous contributions to America’s cultural, political, social, artistic, scientific, and intellectual life. By doing so, we will be upholding the ideals of our founders and forefathers and teaching our younger generations about our magnificent history.

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