|Princess Theatre (Library of Congress)
Jewish immigration to America began during the colonial period, when small numbers of Jews settled in the New World. While most of them were fleeing persecution and discrimination in their European homelands, they found themselves confronted with similar challenges in the new colonies.
The next wave of Jewish immigrants came during the six decades from 1820 to 1880. These were mostly German-speaking Jews, and many initially made their way to the Midwest, where they experienced the hardships and isolation of American frontier life. The great majority of these immigrants eventually settled in new or developing towns.
The period from 1880 to 1920 witnessed a massive influx of immigrants, including many Jews, from the southern and eastern parts of Europe. Almost all these newcomers entered the country through Ellis Island and tended to settle in large, crowded cities like New York.
Although Jewish immigrants came from various countries and arrived in America at different times, they all had to make drastic transitions to their new lives, and their experiences in their adopted country were both positive and negative.
By examining these waves of Jewish immigration, students will gain insight into both the American immigrant experience and American society throughout history.
This lesson is designed to give students an understanding of the experiences of Jewish immigrants to the United States.
1. explore Jewish immigration during three time periods and analyze a variety of primary sources -- including letters, memoirs, and laws -- to gather information about the Jews who came to America;
2. view a number of video and multimedia presentations and be required to look critically at these sources;
3. record the information they have discovered and express their opinions in print.
Subjects Covered: Social Studies, American History, Writing
Suggested Time Frame:
This entire Lesson Plan can be completed in approximately six to seven 45-minute sessions. Individual learning activities break down as follows:
Introductory Activity (1 session)
Colonial Period / Early America (1 session)
Building America: 1820-1880 (1 session)
Mass Immigration 1880-1924 (1 session)
Synthesis of First Three Lessons
Pathway Culminating Activity (approximately 3 sessions)