Page 80 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

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Rabbinic Literature in the
United States, 1918-1939:
The Interwar Period*
b e g i n n i n g
w i t h
t h e
ou tbreak o f World War I and America’s
entry into the hostilities, the mass immigration o f Jews to the
New World, for all practical purposes, ceased. Several factors
combined to bring this about. Conditions in Eastern Europe ,
from which most o f the immigrants arrived, did not allow o r­
derly migration. T h e political situation in Eastern Europe , be­
ginning with the Russian Revolution in 1917 and continuing
du ring the Civil War, preven ted any direct contact between the
Jews who still remained in that part o f the world and America.
In addition, the Johnson Act o f 1924 radically changed the
immigration pa ttern o f those coming to America by instituting
a quota system by country. This Act virtually ended any large-
scale migration from Eastern or Southern Europe.
In reality, a large num ber o f Jews did arrive in the late 1920s
and 30s but not in the same numbers as before. T h e Jewish
population in the United States grew from an approximately
th ree and a qua r te r million in 1917 to almost five million in
T h e num ber o f volumes o f rabbinic literature tha t were pub ­
lished du ring these two decades actually increased by almost
50% over the num ber tha t appeared du ring the th ree and a
half decades o f the second period. Perhaps this increase was
due to the larger Jewish population but in all probability o the r
factors played a more significant role. Almost none o f the au ­
thors were native Americans. T h e rabbinic contributions were
all made by immigrants who had succeeded in these two decades
* For the first part o f this survey, covering 1761-1917, see vol. 47 o f the Annual.