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The waves of Jewish immigration at various times in history

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  1. The nineteenth century
  2. The twentieth century
  3. Zionism
  4. Hitler's regime
  5. Jews in Russia

Jews had begun arriving in the New World long before the immigration waves of the twentieth century. As early as the 1700s, before America became the United States, before it became known as a haven for the tired, poor and oppressed, European Jews fled religious persecution to find solace here. They settled in cosmopolitan port cities - like that of New York - where all kinds of people from diverse backgrounds could mix and do business together. The Jews of America organized themselves into synagogue communities, strictly upholding Jewish customs.

[...] But there was no Jewish community in the sense that there is here in America, or in Israel. I didn't even know what kosher was until I arrived in Ashdod.? When prompted to answer why she and her family decided to leave Russia, Julie says ?There was something in the air. My parents felt it. The country was tightening the belt; and the Jews knew?if not today, then tomorrow In 1991, Gorbachev dismantled Communism. Ukraine, Julie's home country, declared its independence, and restrictions on exit visas eased and Jews were allowed to freely emigrate to their country of choice. [...]

[...] The obstacles Julie faced in her first years in Israel were similar to the hardships any Jewish immigrant faced having moved to a foreign country. ?Even though this was a land for the Jews, and I was a Jew, I was still a stranger to recounts Julie. didn't speak the language, I never served in the army, and I was considered inferior because I was Russian.? By the time her family arrived in 1991, however, Julie had found herself a new life. [...]

[...] The post WWII era saw a massive influx of Jewish Holocaust survivors. While the devastated survivors of Nazi persecution grappled to come to terms with what they've endured, America remained largely untouched by the atrocities committed by Hitler's regime. After the Second World War, the United States stood as the largest center of Judaism in the world, and as the last place for hope for post-war refugees. With the new decade came a new hope for American Jewry. The establishment of Israel as a haven for the Jewish people inspired a refreshment of Zionist principles. [...]

[...] The second half of the twentieth century was a paradoxical time in the history of American Jewry. As Hitler rose to power and systematically exterminated the Jews of Europe, Jewish communities in the States had triumphed over ongoing anti-Semitism and established themselves among the ranks of the wealthy and influential. Many petitioned for the US to loosen its restrictions on immigration and assume a more active role in stopping the Nazis before they successfully annihilated all European Jewry. Unfortunately, rescuing the Jewish population did not become a priority for America until late in the war. [...]

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