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Judaisms Modernization in America The Jewish way of life has been affected in a tremendous way by the people of the United States of America By the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence there were only 2500 Jews in America For forty years beginning in 1840 250000 Jews primarily from Germany Hungary and Bohemia entered this country Anti-Semitism and economic woes in Eastern Europe went from bad to worse after the pogroms of 1881-1882 Almost three million Eastern European Jews left between 1881 and 1914 two million 85 of which decided to come to America where they thought the streets were paved with gold They were wrong Because of this intercontinental migration the social characterization of Jews in America changed drastically Before the move the largest group in the early eighteenth century were the Sephardic Jews They lived in the coastal cities as merchants artisans and shippers The Jews who predominately spoke German came to America over 100 years later and quickly spread out over the land Starting as peddlers they moved up to business positions in the south midwest and on the west coast New York City had 85000 Jews by 1880 most of which had German roots At this time in American history the government accepted many people from many different backgrounds to allow for a diverse population this act of opening our borders probably is the origin of the descriptive phrase the melting pot of the world These German Jews rapidly assimilated themselves and their faith Reform Judaism arrived here after the Civil War due to the advent of European Reform rabbis Jewish seminaries associations and institutions such as Cincinnatis Hebrew Union College
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