L306 Winter 2019 Russian Jewish Immigration to the United States: My Heritage, My Story
Mondays, 9:40–11:05, Jan. 28–Feb. 18
Instructor: Mark Weinstein
This course is presented by a third-generation American of Russian Jewish heritage. Much of the material comes from conversations with my grandparents, my curiosity, and ongoing study. Immigration is currently a hot subject, but unless you’re Native American, we are all from immigrant stock with our unique stories. Why did middle eastern Jews settle in large numbers in eastern Europe in the first place? What was life like for them there? Why did more than two million leave from 1880 to 1924? They were not the first Jews to arrive in America. The first large immigration was of the middle-class Austro-German Jews who immigrated from the 1830s on, and who were already here when the impoverished Russians arrived. How did my Russian ancestors get here, where did they first settle, how did they earn a living, how did they interact with the earlier Austro-German Jews and the American community at large? Russian Jews were swept up in the larger late-1880s eastern and southern European mass migration. This different demographic triggered new federal laws that severely and specifically targeted them and limited their immigration from 1924 on. But this isn’t the whole story; post-WWII there were two smaller Russian waves. I weave into the narrative my family’s and my own story in our travels, our ultimate successes, and our responsibilities and obligations to America, “The Promised Land.”
Mark Weinstein, an 11-year OLLI member, is a retired electrical engineer and a docent at both Smithsonian Air and Space Museums. He has presented OLLI courses covering aviation and technology. He is a history buff, a news junkie, and is intrigued by technology. In his wild impetuous single days he flew a Piper Tri-Pacer.