Jewish-American Assimilation Essay
Assimilation and involvement with the American culture was a process that was different for each individual immigrant. During the 1900s, Jewish immigrants were arriving in the United States in search of a better and safer life.
Andrew Lefkowitz always believed that each person has a soul mate whom they would eventually find. He grew to be 30 years old but he never found his soul mate. He never felt a crush in his high school and he never fell in love. He felt he has not found a person he is perfectly compatible with. His grandmother wanted to arrange a marriage, but he wanted to find a person he would love himself. “I have chosen a wife for you,” she stated. The woman was 28 years old and from the same town as Andrew. Yet, he never met her because she immigrated to the US when she was around 5 years old. She grew up in New Jersey, so she would not be used to the culture and acts of women from Andrew’s town and his Jewish culture.
He always wanted to be in an intimate relationship but he never found the person in his town. As a result, he started to think differently. He thought that maybe his soul mate is somewhere else in the world. He then thought that maybe his grandmother is really leading him to his soul mate. He never thought about how this woman has a different cultural background and did not think it would be difficult for him to assimilate in the woman’s American culture in New Jersey. He later gained a strong belief that she is most likely his soul mate and decided that he wanted to meet her.
Upon arrival to the United States, on May 1, 1910, Andrew Lefkowitz decided to get a job in either agriculture or at some industrial plant. In order to look for employment, Andrew bought the “New York Times” and read an article that mentioned Social Aid to Jewish immigrants. The loans were given out in support of the farming industry and he decided to try his luck there. Everything was new in his social life and assimilation was taking some time. There were several Jewish communities, but there was a conflict between the deeply enrooted Jewish culture and a more modern American culture. There were some struggles with the parents and their views, as Andrew believed in finding a soul mate and was still having doubts in regards to arranged unions.
The industry was developing at an increasing rate, and in order to assimilate faster, Andrew decided to leave an all Jewish agricultural community and join other Americans, to work at a successful company called “Ford”. Not only was Andrew receiving a good salary, but the company’s goal was also to provide proper living conditions to the employees. The standards were organized according to humane regulations so that there is proper ventilation, no overcrowding, functioning amenities and a generally healthy environment for the workers and their family.
Andrew Lefkowitz started to encounter difficulties at his work, as it has become known that Henry Ford was exhibiting anti-Semitic tendencies. This was not a secret and Ford officially voiced his opinions about the Jewish nation and culture. As a result, there were some oppressions and Andrew was forced to be careful in how he expressed himself and his opinions. At the same time, he was getting used to the American culture and enjoyed his work. Automobiles were considered a luxury at that time, so his labor was well paid and he could afford to meet with the woman his grandmother arranged for. As she was much more familiar with the American culture, she taught him some norms and traditions of the society.
Prior to World War I, anti-Semitic tendencies started to emerge even more, and the separation between the rich and lower class became more evident. Andrew started thinking about getting into real estate and moving to an urban area, as time was advantageous for such a change. Even though this was the land of opportunity and many German Jews were able to get involved in banking and real estate, the country was much against further Jewish immigration. There were quotas set on the number of people arriving and this created a major dent in the American Jewish community. This was a particularly difficult time for Andrew’s female friend because there was much gender discrimination, especially towards Jewish women.
Before and after World War I, there were a number of demonstrations relating to both anti-Semitism and discrimination against Jewish women. The only way for people to lead a relatively safe lifestyle was to build Jewish communities and support own religion and places of worship. Andrew and his lady friend were a part of the Jewish movement and were proud to be one of the first people to lead the fight for the rights of Jews in the United States.
Doctorow, Edgar. Ragtime. New York: Penguin Group, 1975. Web.
Garrett, Leah. “Shipping the Self to America: The Perils of Assimilation in Glatshteyn’s and Shapiro’s Immigration Novels.” MELUS 26.3 (2001): n.p. Web.
Helpful Hints and Advice to Employes. Michigan: Ford Motor Company, 1915. Web.
Jewish Farmers Succeed Here. New York: The New York Times, 1910. Web.
Warner, Sam. American Urban Form: A Representative History. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012. Web.
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