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«American Jewish Archives A Journal Devoted to the Preservation and Study of the American Jewish Experience Jacob Rader Marcus, Ph.D., Editor Abraham ...»

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Spring-Summer 1995

Volume XLVII Number 1

American Jewish


A Journal Devoted to the Preservation and Study

of the American Jewish Experience

Jacob Rader Marcus, Ph.D., Editor

Abraham J. Peck, Ph.M., Managing Editor

Ruth L. Kreimer, Editorial Associate

Tammy Topper, Editorial Associate

Published by The American Jewish Archives

on the Cincinnati Campus of the

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Dr. Alfred Gottschalk, President

American JewishArchives is indexed in The lndex to Jewish Periodica2s, Current Contents,The American Historical Review, United States Political Science Documents, and The Journal ofAmerican History

lnformation for Contributors:

American JewishArchivesfollows generally The Chicago Manual ofstyle (13th revised edition) and "Words into Typer'(3rdEdition), but issues its own

style sheet which may be obtained by writing to:

The Associate Editor, American Jewish Archives 3101 CliftonAvenue, Cincinnati, Ohio45zzo

Patrons 1995:

The Neumann Memorial Publication Fund. This publication is made possible, in part, by a giftfrom Congregation Emanu-El ofthe City of New York.

Published by The American JewishArchives on the Cincinnati campus of the Hebrew Union CollegeJewish lnstitute of Religion I S S N 002-go5X 0x995 by thedmm'can JewishArchives Contents

Argentine and American Jewy:

A Casefor Contrasting Immigrant Origins Ellen Eisenberg The author explores the similarities and differences between emigres from Russia to Argentina and those who choose to seek a new life in the United States, explaining how the two communities differed so greatly from one another. In the past these differences had been attributed to the host countries themselves. However, Eisenberg theorizes that it may well have been the social and regional backgrounds of the immigrants that caused such a great rift between the groups. Was it, she asks, the result of the Argentinian Jews ability to adapt to an agricultural environment similar to what they had left behind in Russia? Could their American cousins simply not adapt to the rural lifestyle, which forced them into urban areas, or was it because American Jews had come from a higher socioeconomic class?

W h y They Left: Russian-Jewish Mass Migration and Repressive Laws, 1881-1927 Bernard K. Johnpoll We know that beginning in 1881and ending only with the out break of World War I, more than two million Jews from various parts of Eastern Europe, but primarily from Russia, left to settle in different parts of the American continent. But why did they leave? Using a little-known and little-studied govenunent report, Bernard K.

Johnpoll demonstrates the severity of the anti-Jewish laws which convinced so many millions that their future lay outside of the Russian Pale of Settlement.

–  –  –

The Fall/ Winter 1994issue was mistakenly labeled asVol.XLVI1.

It should read Vol.XLV1.

Argentine and American Jewry:

A Case for Contrasting Immigrant Origins Ellen Eisenberg Despite their common origin in the mass migration from Eastern Europe, the Jewish communities of the United States and Argentina have developed in starkly different ways. In contrast to the organizational, religious, and political vitality attained by the American Jewish community, the Argentine Jewish communityhas been characterized by institutional, political, and religious weakness??"nishas generally been attributed to the differences between the host countries, an explanation that reflects the tendency inimmigrationhistory, until recently, to focus on the adjustment of individual immigrants and to attribute differences among members of the same ethnic group to conditions in the host country or community. As an operating assumption,this approach holds that immigrantsfrom the same places were of uniform background prior to emigrating, and therefore that any variations in the communities they established in their new homes must be the result of migration and settlement.?Recently, however,immigration historians have begun to reassess this assumption. Historians of Italian migration have pointed out the differences in the migration streams that brought Italians to the United States and Argentina, arguing that the diverse backgrounds and regional origins of the migrants had an important part in shaping the Italian community in each country31na similar vein, as scholars have drawn attention to the differences between the patterns of life in the various regions of the Pale of Settlement in Russia, historians of Jewish immigration have begun to recognize the need to determine what impact these had on the development of American Jewry?While conditions in the host societies were undoubtedly a critical factor in the separate paths followed by the Argentine and American Jewish communities, our understanding of the development of each will be heightened by knowledge of the regiona1,occupational, socioeconomic, and religious background of the Jewish immigrants who settled in the two countries.

American Jewish Archives

The Roots of Argentine Jewry

A search for the roots of Argentine Jewry must begin with the agricultural colonies established by the Jewish ColonizationAssociation OCA) beginning in the 18gos,since before this time the country's Jewish population was minuscule. While the majority of the East European Jews who made their way to Argentina in the following years did not settle in the colonies, Argentina's viability as a destination for Jewishimmigrants was greatly enhanced by the publicity generated by colony recruiters in Eastern Europe.

In the early years, the population of Argentina's Jewish agricultural colonies outnumbered the country's urban Jewish population.

The census of 1895 recorded that 64 percent of Argentina's Jews lived in Entre Nos, the rural province where the largest number of colonies was concentrated?At their peak, in 1920, the colonies were home to 22 percent of Argentina's Jews, yet their influence was greater than this figure represents, because the high rate of turnover in the colonies meant that the percentage of Argentine Jews who had ever been residents of these communities was much larger6

Jewish Life in the South Pale

The colonies' significance in Argentine Jewish life, and their central role in spurring Jewish migrationto Argentina, is insharp contrast to the pattern of Jewish immigration to the United States,which was primarily directed to cities.Were the Jews who left Eastern Europe to become urban dwellers in the United States drawn from the same background as those who journeyed to Argentina to become farmers in the colonies?

Examinationof the Jewishagriculturalcolonizationexperiments in the United States suggests not. Research on the origins of the largest and longest-lastingAmerican Jewishcoloniesof this period, founded in New Jersey in the early 1880s, demonstrates that fully 58.2 percent of the settlers arriving during the early period came from the southern part of the Pale of Settlement.7Thisfigure contrasts with the profile of the mass of Jewish immigrants to the United States, who were mainly of Northwest Pale origi$and suggests that Jews Argentine and American Jewry 3 De Hirsch Hall, Woodbine, New Jersey American Jewish Archives from the South Pale were drawn disproportionately to colonization projects- a proposition which is reasonable, given the conditions of Jewish life in the area.

The South Pale region, encompassing Podolia, Bessarabia, Kherson, and Ekaterinoslav, had a tradition of Jewish agriculture dating from the mid-nineteenth-century establishment of Jewish agricultural colonies.Jews from this area tended to have more familiarity with farming, either through direct participation or as merchants dealing in agricultural goods, than their counterparts in the heavily urban northern regions, such as Lithuania?In Bessarabia by midcentury, for example, there were seventeen Jewish agricultural settlements, and 12.5 percent of Bessarabian Jews were employed as farmers?' Moreover, throughout the southern provinces,most of the Jews engaged in trade dealt in agricultural produce and were familiar with rural life.

In addition to the differences in occupational distribution,the Jewish communities of the South Pale differed from those of the Northwest in several other respects.Whilepoverty was widespread in the Pale, the situation in the Northwest was particularly harsh, for as the nineteenth century drew to a close, the many Jews who were craftsmen found themselves facing increased competition from one another and from new Russian factories. Jews in this area reacted to the increasing demographic and economic pressures not only by emigrating in large numbers, but also by turning toyiddish-speaking, exclusively Jewish labor organizations like the Bund.

In contrast, in the South Pale, a region settled by Jews only in the late eighteenthand earlynineteenth centuries, the Jewishpopulation was less dense and less insular. Not only did a number of Jews work in the formerly forbidden field of agriculture,but many settled in the cosmopolitan city of Odessa, where reform-oriented Jews were able to participate in secular life to a degree unheard of in the rest of Russia, and a cadre of secularly oriented intellectuals developed. When their faith that they would experience Western-style emancipation was shattered by the Odessa pogrom of 1871 and the pogroms throughout the southern provinces in 1881-82, many South Pale Jewish radicals and intellectuals turned not to specifically Jewish organizations like the Bund, but to more integrated Russian revolutionary movements, as well as to Zionism and other forms of Jewish Argentine and American Jewry Russian immigrants arriving in Btlenos Aires in the early 1900s American JewishArchives territorialism?' If people of this stamp dominated the migration to Argentina, where the colonies played a central role in Jewishlife and the colonists formed a substantial portion of the populace, the difference in regional origin might well have been a significant factor in the development of the Argentine Jewish community.

Where Did the Colonists Come From?

Historians of Argentine Jewry have tended to dismiss the significance of the immigrants'roots. Judith Elkin writesrUThe contrast between [the United States and Argentine Jewish]communitiespoints up differencesthat stem not from the immigrants (for they were simiin lar intheir origins and part of thesamemigratory~aves)?~Perha~s an efforttoexplainthe eventualdemiseof theArgentinecolonies,most historians tend to adopt the popular view that the colonists lacked farming experiencepftencharacterizingthecolonization as a"retumr' to agricultural occupationsafter centuries of nonagrarian lifet3 Considerableevidence, however, indicates that the South Pale was the place of origin for a large number of the colonists. Even today a visitor to the colony sites in Entre Rios notices a number of details that point in the direction of this conclusion. Commonly used Yiddish terms, such as shil (for "synagogue"), reflect the South Pale pronunciation (in contrast to shul inNorth Ameri~a)!~ Moreover,sections of severalcolonieswere named after South Pale Jewishcommunities.

The Lucienville -area settlements of Novobuco 1 and 2, for example, were named after Novi Bug, a Jewish shtetl in Kherson, northeast of Odessa. Nearby Aquerman I and 2 were named for Akkerman in Bessarabia.These place -names indicate not only the regional origin of the settlers, but their occupational background; Akkerman, for example, was a center of Jewish agri~ulture?~ Other anecdotal information reinforces the impression of South Pale origns. For example, the famous novel recounting colony life, Los Gauchos Judios, opens with a scene in which the Jewish townspeople of Tulchin, in the South Pale, discuss opportunities in Argentinat6Further,as been noted in several published histories of the colonies, the death register from Novopoltavke in the South Pale was transferred to the Chevrah Kadisha (burial society) of BasavilArgentine and American Jewry 7 ba~o?~Significantly, Poltavke was a Jewish agricultural colony Novo in K h e r ~ o n ? ~ Published accounts of the beginnings of the colonization clearly indicate the South Pale roots and agrarian background of some of the settlers.For example,the immigrantswhoarrivedinArgentinaon the S.S.Weser in 1889and founded the colony at Moisesville in Santa Fe comprised a self-organized group originatingin Kamenetz-Podolsk, the capital of P ~ d o l i aSeveral accounts of the early migration emphasize the desperation of Jewish farmers in the South Pale and the border areas of Poland as the factor that induced people from these regions to migrate to the Argentine colonies. According to Josd Mendelson, for instance,the pending expulsionof Jewsfrom the areas of Poland and Podolia adjacent to Austria led directly to the 1887 meetings of Jewish renters, many of them full- or part-time farmers, which resulted in the sending of the Kamenetz-Podolsk delegation to Paris and the initial agreement to buy land in Argentina?' After the first group settled at Moisesville, Baron de Hirsch and the Jewish Colonization Association targeted the rural areas of the South.

Pale as the most promising recruiting grounds for new colonists.

The agent Hirsch sent to tour the Jewish colonies in South Russia "brought back enthusiastic reports about their character in general and their adaptability to agriculture in parti~ular!"~ The JCA already had strong ties to these areas through the Gunzburgs, a prominent Russian-Jewish banking family. Joseph Gunzburg, who resided in St. Petersburg, was the first major Jewish landowner in Bessarabia;his holdings included properties in Soroki and Akkerman,which became centers of Jewish agriculture?Both Joseph and his son Baron Horace Gunzburg strongly supported agricultural training for Russian Jews, and the younger Gunzburg became the chairman of the committee set up by the JCA in Russia to coordinate Hirsch's agricultural colonization ~ l a n.By the turn 2~ of the century, Baron Gunzburg had founded a Jewish agricultural colony on one of his Bessarabian estate and was serving as director of a new Jewish agricultural school in Novo-P~ltavka?~A section of the Clara Colony in Argentina was named after Baron Gunzburg.

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