These Are Our Children: Jewish Orphanages in the United States, 1880–1925 by Reena Sigman Friedman


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Description

The large influx of Eastern European Jewish immigrants into the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries signaled a dramatic change not just in American society as a whole but also in the existing American Jewish community. As the population of Eastern European Jews grew, so did the need to care for their orphaned, abandoned, and destitute children. In These Are Our Children, Reena Sigman Friedman studies three representative orphanages - New York's Hebrew Orphan Asylum, Philadelphia's Jewish Foster Home, and Cleveland's Jewish Orphan Asylum - placing them in the context of the Progressive movement as well as the evolving child welfare field in the United States. Interviews with orphanage alumni enable Friedman to show that these institutions not only sheltered and educated their charges, but also instilled values intended to mold productive, loyal American citizens. In time the orphanages were hailed nationwide for their progressive policies. This recognition came at a price, however: while the institutions reflected traditional Jewish teachings, the same philosophies that enabled children to embrace life in the New World frequently caused estrangement from their natural parents and the Old World cultures of their families.

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