New books examine the Jewish immigrant experience in America,
and the lives of immigrant Jews in America's mother country.
All demonstrate the old adage: A picture is worth a thousand words.
Special to the Jewish News
rt gives form to ideas in new
books that chronicle the path
to Jewish acceptance and
independence in the United States and
In Jewish Americans: The Immigrant
Experience (Hugh Lauter Levin
Associates, Inc.; $60), author Hasia
Diner selected the illustrations before
writing the text. Drawings went hand-
in-hand with text for Jews in America:
A Cartoon History (The Jewish
Publication Society; $24.95), written .
and illustrated by David Gantz, a polit-
ical cartoonist, author and sculptor.
Caricatures and engravings give a
sense of the times covered in The Jews
of Britain: 1656 to 2000 (University of
California Press; $22.50) by Todd
Endelman, a University of Michigan
314 professor and administrator.
"Jewish Americans: The Immigrant Experience'
aseball great Hank Greenberg stands out as a
Michigan connection in Jewish Americans,
B Hasia Diner's attractive coffee-table volume
that's big, colorful and concise in narrative.
Diner, a New York University professor who spe-
cializes in American Jewish history, was tapped to
build the pages of this narrative of the Jewish expe-
rience in America — focusing on immigrants and
the children of immigrants — around the pictures
and include written information to fill in the his-
torical time line.
'As a social historian, I probably underempha-
sized the importance and aesthetics of illuStrations,
but with this book, I realize pictures are grabbing
and really can tell a story that's very different than
what words can tell," says Diner, 54, now chair of
a Haifa University international board planning a
center for the study of American history there.
The book, which traces the American Jewish
experience from the 17th century to the 21st cen-
tury, includes decorative pages from religious texts,
sketches of early American settlements, watercolors
depicting the westward movement, artistic docu-
ments, family and celebrity photographs, paintings
by well-known artists and entertainment posters.
To humanize the various time periods, individu-
als are shown in portrait and profiled. Among
those featured are merchant Aaron Lopez, repre-
sented in a painting by Gilbert Stuart; philanthro-
pist Rebecca Gratz, captured in a rendering by
Thomas Sully; and Albert Einstein, probably the
greatest scientific thinker of the 20th century, cap-
tured in photographs in his classroom and at a din-
ner in his honor held by the American Palestine
"The book covers the process of building com-
munities, adjustments between the pre-migration
setting and the expectations of American opportu-
nities, and the issues of continuity and change,"
says Diner, who grew up in a Zionist home and
maintains that commitment.
"For the segments that are not illustrated, I asked
myself what I consid-
ered most important
for readers to know.
We made a real effort
not to make this a
New York story."
Diner, who spent
(Camp Tavor) in
Three Rivers, empha-
sizes the accomplish-
ments of Jews in the
This coffee-table volume
sciences, arts, business
tells the story of the impact and philanthropy and
of the Jewish migration to
celebrates their assimi-
America through the lives
of the immigrants and
surely have been a
poorer place in body,
mind and spirit had Jews not made the journey to
this, their golden land," writes the author, who lists
Jewish Web sites for more information.
"As the new millennium begins, the story of the
Jewish Americans is far from over. What has come
to a close for many, however, is their search for a
place to end their wanderings."
Yews in America: A Cartoon History'
enry Ford holds a place in Jews in America,
but his impact as an automaker is not the
issue. What's important to author David
Gantz is Ford's impact on anti-Semitic practices and
"I read about 25 books before working on this
history volume, but I knew about Henry Ford's
attitudes toward the Jews since I was a young
man," says Gantz, who traces Ford's ideas to anti-
Semitic Europeans, follows the automaker's
volatile communications through the Dearborn
Independent newspaper and calls attention to the