Clockwise from bottom left:
From "Jewish Americans: The Immigrant
Experience," Bilhah Abigail Levy Franks,
c. 1740: Through her letters, Abigail
Franks left us perhaps the most complete
record of Jewish life in 18th-century
America, demonstrating the commitment
of early American Jews to their religious
tradition and their increasing comfort in
a religiously mixed society; Charles
M. Strauss and son, c. 1886: Strauss was
gaRGENCE oto,VicousNOWSTCREarYpe 1
elected mayor of Tucson, Ariz., in 1883;
The Warner brothers — Sam, Harry,
Jack and Albert, 1920s: This Yiddish-
speaking family of Polish Jews started
out as theater owners, moved into film
distribution and eventually decided
that producing films made more sense
than buying and reselling them.
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car icon's acceptance of
the Grand Cross of the
German Eagle from
A CARTOoN HISTORY
This Michigan connec-
tion comes toward the
end of Gantz's book,
which starts out in
England in 1189 and con-
cludes with contemporary
problems facing Jews in
America. The author
"Comics are almost a
places himself among the
medium between the
cartoon images as he
motion picture and
serves as narrator.
the book," says
"I always thought that
comic books had tremen- David Gantz.
dous potential as a way of
telling stories and were
not being used to their
fullest with superhero
tales," says Gantz, 80,
who just finished a similar history about former
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
Gantz, a children's book author, started Jews in
America at the suggestion of editor Bruce Black.
He took the material to an adult level at the sug-
gestion of another editor, Ellen Frankel.
Although Gantz originally had a prologue and
epilogue for the book, Frankel asked him to take
those out and place his commentary in the many
segments he includes. For instance, his. pages on
the Reform religious movement show him at his
drawing board while the speech balloons are filled
"The visual aspect of my being there makes this
project very personal for me," says Gantz, who calls
himself a "Rosh Hashanah Jew" and recalls being
very active with B'nai B'rith.
"The use of a picture can eliminate a lot of
description in the writing, and comics are almost a
medium between the motion picture and the
book," Gantz says.
"When they produce a motion picture or a TV
series, there's always an artist on hand doing the
preliminary sketches, which came out of comic
books. I'm deeply interested in forwarding this
medium, and I think there'll be a lot more books
like Jews in America."
The Jews of Britain: 1656 to 2000'
he years between 1759 and 1840, at the cen-
ter of Todd Endelman's book, were known
as the golden age of English caricatures.
"Caricaturing was a major form of political expres-
sion, and it developed into a kind of art form," says
Endelman, William Haber Professor of Modern
Jewish History and director of the Frankel Center
for Judaic Studies at U-M.
Among the people shown and discussed in this
unusual book are Hermann Adler, a prominent
chief rabbi, and Polly de Symons, wife of a dia-
"There is a tremendous amount of [caricature art-
work] available, and it's very characteristic of
England but not so much of other countries at the
time," Endelman says.'"There are hundreds of carica-
tures of English Jews, and the [art form] continued
into the Victorian period, particularly in Vanity Fair.
"I don't focus on individuals [in the narrative]. It's
not that individuals don't have a major impact on
history. They do, but I'm more concerned with
broader social and religious trends."
Endelman was asked to write this book as part of
a series of one-volume histories of the major Jewish
communities in the world. He had written two
other books on English Jewish history, an interest he
acquired while in an exchange program at the
University of Warwick in the 1970s.
"British Jewry was very conservative," says
Endelman, 55. "It was not very innovative. Most of
the newer religious trends didn't originate in Britain
and didn't have a great deal of impact in Britain.
"Part of that is because Jews in Britain have had
a very centralized system. Many British Jews prid-
ed themselves on having a board of deputies and a
As illustrated in "Jews in America:
A Cartoon History," by the eve of World
War I, "the old populist stereotype of the
Jew as a financial Shylock gave way to
the new stereotype of the immigrant
Jew as bomb-throwing Bolshevik."
James Gillray's 1801 caricature of
Polly de Symons, wife of diamond
broker Lyon de Symons, from
"Jews of Britain: 1656-2000."
The author shows how
the history of the Jews in
Great Britain — or in any
other country — is inex-
tricably linked to the larg-
er history of that country.
"For example, the place
of religion in British soci-
ety before World War II
Endelman says, "because
religion was very much a
part of respectability in
Although some British
Jews came to America
Although some British
during the Colonial
Jews came to America
period, most remained
in England. And, while during the Colonial peri-
od, most remained in
many Jews emigrated
from England to the
And, while many Jews
United States in the
emigrated from England
19th and early 20th
centuries, most were not to the United States in the
19th and early 20th cen-
turies, most were not
- At a certain point in the
mass migration from
Eastern Europe, it was cheaper to sail from a north-
ern European port to London and then go on,
rather than taking the direct route to America. For
this reason, Jewish immigrants to the United States
often spent anywhere from two months to three
years in England before continuing on to America.
"What struck me while I was doing my research
was how much more research has to be done on this
subject,"- says Endelman, who has since edited
Disraeli's Jewishness, a collection of essays, and is
working on another text about assimilation in mod-
ern Jewish history.
"Instead of being a kind of final summation, my
book is just as much a guide to the work that
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