The Jewish American Family
The settlement of Jews in America is an old one. Jews have been in America since the colonial period, though they began arriving in large numbers only one hundred years ago. The immigration of Jews to America occurred in three major historical waves involving people from three national locations:
Sephardic Jews, originally from Spain and Portugal: German Jews from the Germanic states; and eastern European Jews, largely from Poland and Russia
But also from Rumania, Hungary, and Lithuania. It would be inaccurate to assume no overlap among these three waves of immigration because immigration from Germany took place at the same time as immigration from Poland and Russia. These three waves of immigration are important because
They define three distinct cultural patterns that tend to distinguish Jewish cummunities in America.
A smaller fourth wave from the former Soviet Union emerged in the 1980s and 1990s. Numbering less than 100.000, these refugees from the former Soviet empire have taken up residence largely in New York City.
Because of Soviet policies, they are a largely secular group with little knowledge of Jewish religious and cultural traditions. Their impact on American cultural is as yet limited, although they along other other new immigrants in New York City are making their presence felt. Only the future will tell the extent to which they influence the American Jewish community.
Immigrants from the nearly destroyed Sephardic, German, and eastern European Jewish communities differed for a variety of historical, cultural,
And economic reasons. Descendants of migrants from eastern European
Were the last to arrive, constituting by far the largest number of America s
Jews probably more than 90 percent. The Sephardic and German Jews are and have been important not for their numbers but largely because of their Social position and influence.