Page 37 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 38

Basic HTML Version

N o r was the daily press more sparing in its description o f the
recent arrivals from eastern Europe. T h e
New York Times
o f July
30, 1893, wrote o f the East Side street vendors:
A writer m ight go on fo r a week reciting the abominations o f
these peop le and still have much to t e l l . . . they have an utter
d isregard fo r the law . . . the ash cart comes along and takes
what is in sight . . . five minutes later some o f these peop le
will empty pail a fter pail o f household ashes and garbage
into the m idd le o f the street . . . Th is ne ighb o rh o od ,
peop led almost entirely by peop le driven from Poland and
Russia, is the eyesore o f N ew Y o rk and perhaps the filthiest
place on the western con tinen t. . . T h e y cannot be lifted up
to a h igher plane because they do not want to be.
T h e most popu lar o f the later nineteenth-century “Jewish”
novelists, H en ry Harland , wrote about acculturated Am e r i­
canized Jews. In his fou r widely-read novels on Jewish life pub­
lished under the pseudonym, Sidney Luska,
As I t Was Written
Mrs. Peixada
The Yoke o f the Thorah
(1887), and Afy
Uncle Florimund
(1888), as well as in his
Grandison Mather
we meet no identifiable east European Jews. Harland confessed
that he chose a Jewish-sounding pen name to help the sale o f his
books among Jews, so it is not surprising that, excepting only
Yoke o f the Thorah,
his books were hailed as philo-semitic. T h e
objection to
The Yoke o f the Thorah
on the part o f the Jewish press
and pulpit was due to its advocacy o f intermarriage and its attack
on those Jews who opposed it. R e fo rm German Jewish readers
could take some solace, however, fo r the bigoted rabbi in the
novel is a Polish O r thodox Jew.
In “Mr. Sonnenschein’s Inheritance,” a story included in Har-
land’s ^
Latin-Quarter Courtship, and Other Stories
(1889), the G e r­
man Jew, Emmanuel Sonnenschein, is a figu re to be pitied, “ one
who never prospers . . . constitutionally unsuccessful,” but ad­
m ired fo r his compassion. T h e Polish Jew, Levinson, is a thor­
oughgo ing scoundrel. T h e stereotypic prejudice against Polish
Jewish immigrants emerges full force:
These low -down Polish Jews . . . all look pretty much alike