studying immigration, historians consider incentives for leaving
the native country (the “push”) as well as reasons for
settling in a particular adopted land (the “pull”).
For immigrants to the United States from Czarist Russia,
many of whom were Jewish, the “push” included religious
persecution, economic deprivation, and political hostility, while
the “pull” was religious, economic, and political liberty.
The first significant wave of Jews to the United States
consisted primarily of middle-class Germans arriving in the
states had enacted discriminatory laws against their Jewish
residents, severely restricting their ability to travel, marry,
and transact business.
larger second wave came in 1880-1910, during which nearly 1.5
million Jews fled discrimination and violence in Russia and other
Eastern European nations for haven in the United States.
They tended to be less educated and less prosperous than
those from the first wave. In
1881, under one percent of the immigrants to the United States
were Jewish, but by 1887 that figure had risen to six-and-a-half
percent. The increased number of Eastern European immigrants
prompted the founding of the American Protective Association, a
nativist organization that spoke out harshly against Jews and
Catholics and promoted restrictive immigration laws.
The Transplanted: A
History of Immigrants in Urban America.
Bloomington, IN: Indiana
University Press, 1985.
World of Our Fathers: The
Journey of the East European Jews to American and the Life They Found and
Made. New York:
Simon & Schuster, A Touchstone Book, 1976.