Gentile New York, Gentile New York, 0813551641, 0-8135-5164-1, 978-0-8135-5164-7, 9780813551647, , , Gentile New York, , , , , , , Gentile New York, 0813552192, 0-8135-5219-2, 978-0-8135-5219-4, 9780813552194, , , Gentile New York, 0813579058, 0-8135-7905-8, 978-0-8135-7905-4, 9780813579054,
Gentile New York

The Images of Non-Jews among Jewish Immigrants
Gil Ribak (Author)
308 pages, 4 illustrations, 6 x 9
Cloth, January 2012 $49.95   ADD TO CART
Web PDF, January 2012 $49.95   EBOOK VERSION AVAILABLE
epub, January 2012 $45.95   EBOOK VERSION AVAILABLE
Subject Area:
Jewish Studies, History: US, New York City and State


The very question of “what do Jews think about the goyim” has fascinated Jews and Gentiles, anti-Semites and philo-Semites alike. Much has been written about immigrant Jews in nineteenth- and twentieth-century New York City, but Gil Ribak’s critical look at the origins of Jewish liberalism in America provides a more complicated and nuanced picture of the Americanization process.

Gentile New York examines these newcomers’ evolving feelings toward non-Jews through four critical decades in the American Jewish experience. Ribak considers how they perceived Gentiles in general as well as such different groups as “Yankees” (a common term for WASPs in many Yiddish sources), Germans, Irish, Italians, Poles, and African Americans. As they discovered the complexity of America’s racial relations, the immigrants found themselves at odds with “white” American values or behavior and were drawn instead into cooperative relationships with other minorities. Sparked with many previously unknown anecdotes, quotations, and events, Ribak’s research relies on an impressive number of memoirs, autobiographies, novels, newspapers, and journals culled from both sides of the Atlantic.


"Gil Ribak's provocative study explores brilliantly how old-world Jewish visions of Christians and frustrations with 'Yankee' WASP elites in 'Gentile New York' dominated Jewish immigrant consciousness."

—Jeffrey S. Gurock, Yeshiva University

"Jews have long had complex and paradoxical relationships with gentiles, who have sometimes been oppressors, sometimes neighbors and in many instances 'righteous' people who have saved the lives of Jews. This book views immigration through a new lens: it examines how Eastern European Jews perceived and interacted with the diverse set of peoples in the U.S. who were their neighbors, coworkers, adversaries, and sometimes collaborators. The book does a masterful job of portraying the history of these diverse images and encounters. It is carefully researched and provides vivid examples. Ribak has done scholars and other readers a service by bringing together a rich and varied set of materials."
—Jewish Book World

Gentile New York is a very important study, which will change our view of American Jewish history. Ribak builds his argument on a very solid documental foundation, and we can only admire his meticulousness and analytical insight.”
—Yiddish Daily Forward

Author / Editor Bio

GIL RIBAK is the Schusterman Postdoctoral Fellow at the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies, the University of Arizona. His articles have appeared in American Jewish History, Israel Studies Forum, War and Peace in Jewish Tradition, and Midstream, among other publications.

Table Of Contents


1. “Never Before Have Gentiles Hated Jews So Much”: The Images of Non-Jews in Eastern European Jewish Society in the Late Nineteenth Century
2. “Lovers of Man”: The Images of Americans among Eastern European Jews in the Last Third of the Nineteenth Century
3. “In Goodness They Even Exceed the English”: The Idealization of “Yankees” in the 1880s and 1890s
4. “The American Is Not Very Musical and Not So Sociable”: The Beginnings of an Attitudinal Change in the Early 1900s
5. “You Could Almost Forget That He Is Not a Jew”: The Jewish Labor Movement and Secularized Chosenness, 1909–1914
6. “The ‘Green’ Italian Pays the Same Good Taxes as the 14-Karat Yankee”: The War in Europe and the Beginnings of Reorientation toward Certain Minority Groups, 1914–1917
7. “What the American Can Do in His Anger”: World War I and the Red Scare, 1917–1920
Epilogue: Self-Image and Its Limitations

A Note on Methodology and Sources


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