The complete story of Jewish Harlem and its significance in American Jewish history New York Times columnist David W. Dunlap wrote a decade ago that "on the map of the Jewish Diaspora, Harlem Is Atlantis. . . . A vibrant hub of industry, artistry and wealth is all but forgotten. It is as if Jewish Harlem sank 70 years ago beneath waves of memory beyond recall." During World War I, Harlem was the home of the second largest Jewish community in America. But in the 1920s Jewish residents began to scatter to other parts of Manhattan, to the outer boroughs, and to other cities. Now nearly a century later, Jews are returning uptown to a gentrified Harlem. The Jews of Harlem follows Jews into, out of, and back into this renowned metropolitan neighborhood over the course of a century and a half. It analyzes the complex set of forces that brought several generations of central European, East European, and Sephardic Jews to settle there. It explains the dynamics that led Jews to exit this part of Gotham as well as exploring the enduring Jewish presence uptown after it became overwhelmingly black and decidedly poor. And it looks at the beginnings of Jewish return as part of the transformation of New York City in our present era. The Jews of Harlem contributes much to our understanding of Jewish and African American history in the metropolis as it highlights the ever-changing story of America's largest city. With The Jews of Harlem, the beginning of Dunlap's hoped-for resurfacing of this neighborhood's history is underway. Its contemporary story merits telling even as the memories of what Jewish Harlem once was warrants recall.
This is the hard-edged true story of the making of a renowned sociologist. It is even more the story of a boy hustling to survive. A single playlet in the larger drama of American transformation, this candid memoir recounts the intensely personal story of a tormented youth spent in a ghetto within a ghetto: a small remnant community of Eastern European Jewish immigrants residing in predominantly black Harlem, eking out a marginal existence. The painful details of a boy's overcoming alienation and isolation in a hostile place and in an unloving family are finely drawn. This fascinating but sad memoir is somehow astonishingly uplifting: the sense of strength, self-reliance, and a life formed from movie houses, the Apollo Theater in its heyday, the Polo Grounds, Central Park, and the streets of Harlem is a lesson in the resilience of both the individual and America.
The history of Black-Jewish relations from the beginning of the twentieth century shows that, while they were sometimes partners of convenience, there was also a deep suspicion of each other that broke out into frequent public exchanges. During the twentieth century, the entanglements of both groups have, at times, provided an important impetus for social justice in the United States and, at other times, have been the cause of great tension. The Ocean Hill-Brownsville Conflict explores this fraught relationship, which is evident in the intellectual lives of these communities. The tension was as apparent in the life and works of Marcus Garvey, Richard Wright, and James Baldwin as it was in the exchanges between blacks and Jews in intellectual periodicals and journals in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. The Ocean Hill-Brownsville conflict was rooted in this tension and the longstanding differences over community control of school districts and racial preferences.
Relations between Jewish Americans and African Americans have always had a unique, complex character. Both groups have long been considered outsiders in mainstream American society, sharing a history in which both their physical appearance and moral attributes were denigrated. African Americans have drawn parallels between their situation in the United States and the Jews' struggles for freedom when they were slaves in Egypt. Jewish Americans have often become involved in the black cause through their interest in social issues and association with liberal politics. Mutual Reflections is the first book to examine this many-layered relationship through its visual dimension. Milly Heyd investigates how artists of both backgrounds have viewed each other during the last hundred years-how the visual languages and the-matic choices of their art have reflected changing concerns from symbiosis to disillusionment. She explores a wide range of artistic mediums: painting, sculpture, cartoons, comic strips, and installations. Interviews with artists provide additional insight. The post modern discourse poses questions problematizing ethnic and racial stereotyping. As Heyd states, when an artist of one group investigates the other group, that person is embarking on a journey of self-discovery. And while that journey can lead to disillusionment and criticism, the artist's vision-and final work of art-very often can help put all of us on our own paths of self-discovery.
In a culture deeply divided along ethnic lines, the idea that the relationship between blacks and Jews was once thought special - indeed, critical to the cause of civil rights - might seem strange. Yet the importance of blacks for Jews and Jews for blacks in conceiving of themselves as Americans, when both remained outsiders to the privileges of full citizenship, is a matter of voluminous but perplexing record. It is this record, written across the annals of American history and literature, culture and society, that Eric Sundquist investigates. A monumental work of literary criticism and cultural history, Strangers in the Land draws upon politics, sociology, law, religion, and popular culture to illuminate a vital, highly conflicted interethnic partnership over the course of a century. Sundquist explores how reactions to several interlocking issues - the biblical Exodus, the Holocaust, Zionism and the state of Israel - became critical to black-Jewish relations.