Disc 3 – Becoming Americans

Only in America: The Story of American Jews

Disc 3 – Becoming Americans: The Jewish Lower East Side, Part II

Part II looks at how life on the Lower East Side transformed the new immigrants. “Greenhorn” Jews adopted the language and culture of their new country as fast as they could. They formed labor unions to improve working conditions and pay in the sweatshops of the “needle trade.” Many young Jewish women were in the forefront of change. The Yiddish theater provided an escape from the daily grind; Isaiah Sheffer recalls his time as a child actor. Eventually, the children and grandchildren of the immigrants moved out of the Lower East Side to better neighborhoods and higher status, leaving behind the customs, religion and language of the old country. Part II is also filled with oral histories and music.

Read by Isaiah Sheffer, Jerry Stiller, Barbara Rosenblat, Jasmine Petraru, Stacey Brass, Fritz Weaver and Ollie Wyman.
Host and Series Producer: Larry Josephson for the Radio Foundation.
This program was produced by Sarah Elzas, Sara Porath and Larry Josephson.
The interviews were recorded by Bill Siegmund and Robert Auld.
Post production by Robert Auld and David Rapkin.
Archival material supplied by The Ellis Island Oral History Collection, The Tamiment Library at NYU, The Pittsburgh Jewish Oral History Project, The Dorot Jewish Division and the Performing Arts Division of the New York Public Library, The Judaica Collection at Florida Atlantic University, The Unite Here Archives at Cornell University, Yivo, The Eldridge Street Synagogue Project and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.
Special Thanks to Nicki Newman Tanner.

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