Eli Lederhendler's Jewish Immigrants and American Capitalism, 1880-1920: From Caste to Class reexamines the immigration of Russian Jews to the United States around the turn of the 20th century - a group that accounted for 10 to 15 percent of immigrants to the United States between 1899 and 1920 - challenging and revising common assumptions concerning the ease of their initial adaptation and image as a 'model' immigrant minority. Lederhendler demonstrates that the characteristics for which Jewish immigrants are commonly known - their industriousness, 'middle-class' domestic habits, and political sympathy for the working class - were, in fact, developed in response to their new situation in the United States. This experience realigned Jewish social values and restored to these immigrants a sense of status, honor, and a novel kind of social belonging, and with it the 'social capital' needed to establish a community quite different from the ones they came from.
Eli Lederhendler teaches at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he is the current head of the Institute of Contemporary Jewry and holds the Stephen S. Wise Chair in American Jewish History and Institutions. He is the author of several books, including The Road to Modern Jewish Politics (1989), winner of the National Jewish Book Award, and New York Jews and the Decline of Urban Ethnicity 1950-1970 (2001), winner of the Koret Jewish Book Award. He is also co-editor of the annual journal Studies in Contemporary Jewry and has edited and contributed to scholarly publications in Israel and the United States.
Prologue; 1. Down and out in eastern Europe; 2. Being an immigrant: ideal, ordeal, and opportunities; 3. Becoming an (ethnic) American: from class to ideology; Afterword.