Zion in the Valley

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Walter Ehrlich

Publisher: University of Missouri Press

The second volume of a two-volume history of the Jewish community of St. Louis, Zion in the Valley, Volume II covers the St. Louis Jewish population during the twentieth century, continuing where Volume I concluded. Published in 1997, Volume I deals primarily with the achievements of the German Jewish immigrants who dominated the St. Louis Jewish community during the nineteenth century. In the latter part of that century, a second large wave of Jewish immigrants, this time from Eastern Europe, began to arrive in St. Louis. Because the new immigrants differed in so many ways from their German precursors, two separate and decidedly hostile Jewish communities developed: the German/Reform community and the Eastern European/Orthodox community.
The most important development of the twentieth century, and the basic theme of this volume, was how the deep chasm between the two communities was bridged and a new, unified “American Jewish” community free from the earlier hostilities was born. This volume examines in insightful detail how that happened. It looks at Jewish religious and educational institutions; Jewish participation in local political, economic, and civic activities; Jewish cultural, philanthropic, and recreational life; and especially Jewish demographics within the larger St. Louis-area community.

Existing histories of St. Louis barely even allude to its Jewish population. This narrative is based almost entirely upon unused primary sources: archival records, newspapers, reminiscences, interviews, and organizational records. The two volumes together are not only important components of St. Louis history but also a vital part of American urban, ethnic, and immigration history.

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