Page 28 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 38

Basic HTML Version

America Discovers the East European
Jewish Immigrant
mer ica
th e
long be fo re it met him. T h e Bible and the
Works o f Josephus, the two most popu lar books in Colon ial
America, drew the picture o f the Jew Am erica knew. I t was an
ambivalent picture: G od ’s chosen peop le on the one hand and the
rejectors and betrayers o f H im on the other. T h e picture grew still
more blurred when the American in the Early Republic found
descriptions o f the Jew in the literature he imported and he
created. In the fo rm e r , the old prejudices were retained, the old
stereotypes perpetuated; in the latter, there was an attempt to
present a portrait o f a “ new” Jew in the N ew World .
T h e reader o f
The Wonderful and Most Deplorable History o f the
Latter Times o f the Jews
by Josephus Ben Gorion , published in
Leom inster, Massachusetts, in 1803, read in the Preface:
the grounds o f those sad disasters which befell the Jews . . .
was their seditious proud spirits, their Untractable and
stubborn rebellious hearts . . . the rejecting and crucify ing
o f the
Lord o f Life. .
T h e author o f the Preface then proceeds to characterize Jews,
“ from that time to this day” :
. . . runagates and land-loopers, they have been up and
down in the W o r ld . . . they apply themselves to the most
sordid and servile conditions, fo r commonly they are either
and Brokers fo r the pettiest things . . . they are
known to be the subtilest, and the most subdolous race o f
peop le on earth — as also the most fea r fu l and pusillanim­
ous. . .
1 Josephus Ben Gorion,
The Wonderful and Most Deplorable History o f the Latter Times
o f theJews: with the Destruction o f the City ofJerusalem.
Leominster, Mass. March
1803, p. II I .
. , p. IV .