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By Robert Perlman

A chronicle of the Hungarian-Jewish immigration adventure

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Additional info for Bridging three worlds: Hungarian-Jewish Americans, 1848-1914

Example text

Fifty years later a larger influx of Jews from Bohemia and Moravia, northwest of Hungary, was triggered when the authorities there decided to limit or if possible decrease the size of their Jewish population. To accomplish this they decreed that only one male in each Jewish family would be allowed to marry. Young Moravian Jews, usually the wealthiest, crossed the border into Hungary in considerable numbers seeking wives and homes. Incidentally this generated in the border villages a lively business in wedding arrangements, complete with cooks, musicians, and jesters.

A Jew gave him directions and again he was able to walk across a border, this time into Germany. In Breslau he telegraphed home for the money he had left behind. Here he met a Jewish actor on his way from Russia to Vienna; they hit it off, and enjoyed Breslau together for two weeks. It was in Breslau that, on the recommendation of someone he met, he bought a second-class ticket to America. The stranger told him that steerage was no good. The ticket cost about $80 or $90, which included a promise of good food.

It is debatable to what extent the three streams merged, but it is clear that during the period in which we are interested they inhabited, to a substantial extent, different cultural worlds, despite the fact that they shared a common Jewish heritage. The Austrian-German immigrants reflected the baroque spirit of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. "In the Jewish version this spirit meant the closed system of rabbinism aiming at absolute authority . . " These devout German-speaking merchants and craftsmen brought their rabbis with them and pursued a "rigorous conservatism" in religious matters.

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