Throughout present day American history there have been many differing views on the Eastern European and Russian Jews as a people and the ways in which they have affected American society. Although often looked down upon, Russian Jews have actually contributed a great deal to the economic growth of New York as well as the riddance of sweat shops and opening of labor unions all over the United States, and have gotten a long way form their persecution in their homeland during the nineteenth century. Perhaps though a study of their history and their culture it can be understood just how difficult life had been for them and how experienced the European Jews really are.
[...] Many of these educated Russian students were forced to do the same work as the uneducated immigrants in order to make a living. They lived in very bad conditions and worked long hours in sweatshops. The educated students, being more aware that something needed to be done, began fighting on behalf of all the people working in sweatshops for better working conditions. While the American workers did not have full trust in the immigrants who were fighting for their cause, the Jews had great respect for these educated people and welcomed and acknowledged their leadership. [...]
[...] We are not in possession of accurate figures which would give us an exact knowledge of the increase in wages, and, more important still, the diminution of hours brought about by these organizations and their subsequent victories, but the Report of the New York State Bureau of Labor Statistics for 1890 shows that the increase of wages was more than $500,000 for the few months remaining in 1890 after the settlement of the strikes. (www.mnsmc.edu) In this way the Russian Jews made up for the competition that they had with the native New Yorkers when they first arrived in the new country. [...]
[...] Czar Nicholas II indeed succeeded in his goal of having the Jews leave, as three-quarters of the two million Jews who left Europe for America from 1881 to 1914 came from the lands of the Russian Empire. (http://www.mapsites.net ) The emigration of the Eastern European Jews to America was a new chance for hope to escape from their mother countries. Most of the immigrants who arrived in America possessed little or no money, had no knowledge of the language or the culture of the Americans and were starting completely new lives in a strange new place which they had been dreaming to escape to for “free air”. [...]
[...] They revolutionized a new set of standards for all workers in the major cities and opened them up to new ideas of how organization may help protect their rights as workers. Upon their success, these students decided to further their success and founded a respectable newspaper called the "Arbeiter Zeitung," discussing the social and industrial conditions of the Jewish working classes in Europe and in America. These earnest, intelligent, radical students became organizers of trades unions, editors, speakers, students of law and of medicine in New York colleges, but always and primarily they are agitators for higher social conditions. [...]
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