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Ambivalent EmbraceJewish Upward Mobility in Postwar America$
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Rachel Kranson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469635439

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469635439.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 25 May 2022

Materially Poor, Spiritually Rich

Materially Poor, Spiritually Rich

Poverty in the Postwar Jewish Imagination

(p.17) One Materially Poor, Spiritually Rich
Ambivalent Embrace

Rachel Kranson

University of North Carolina Press

As the fortunes and social status of American Jews grew in the years after World War II, the symbolic power of the shtetl, the immigrant slum, and the struggling new state of Israel gained in importance. Jewish writers, educators, and clergy depicted these locations as deeply authentic Jewish spaces, uncorrupted by the influence and comforts of the non-Jewish world. Isolated rather than integrated, impoverished rather than affluent, they seemed to represent the opposite of mid-century American Jewish life. In the romantic imagination of American Jewish leaders, the deprivations suffered by their ancestors and co-religionists transformed into sources of pleasure, strength, and Jewish authenticity, and poverty and isolation emerged as integral components of a genuine and deeply satisfying Jewish identity.

Keywords:   Jews, shtetl, immigrant slum, Israel, poverty, authenticity

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