civil war

The War That Made The Jews Americans

‘Jews and the Civil War’ show at the Center for Jewish History.

03/12/2013
Jewish Week Book Critic

In April 1850, Peter Still, a slave, purchased his freedom from Joseph Friedman, a sympathetic Jewish businessman in Tuscumbia, Ala.

War in the family: Brothers Edward Jonas, a Union soldier, and Charles H. Jonas, who fought for the Confederacy.

The War That Made The Jews Americans

New ‘Jews and the Civil War’ show starts Sunday at the Center for Jewish History, on war's 150th anniversary.

03/08/2013
Jewish Week Book Critic

In April 1850, Peter Still, a slave, purchased his freedom from Joseph Friedman, a sympathetic Jewish businessman in Tuscumbia, Ala., for $500. When Still relocated with his family in the North, he stayed in touch with Friedman. His slave narrative, “The Kidnapped and the Ransomed ... Being the Personal Recollections of Peter Still and His Wife Vina After Forty Years of Slavery,” was published in the 1850s and is included in a new exhibition, “Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War,” opening on Sunday, March 10 at the Center for Jewish History.

Captain Jacobs Jacob 83rd NY Infantry, wounded at Gettysburg. Photo courtesy collection of Robert Marcus

Obama on Jews and American History: A Speech Worth Remembering

Shame on me for not knowing that May was Jewish American Heritage Month.  To be sure, it lacks the profile of Black History Month, but apparently in Washington it’s a big deal.  I was reminded of that when I read about Obama’s closing remarks at the White House on Wednesday, when he took pains to highlight the central anecdote of historian Jonathan Sarna’s new book, “When General Grant Expelled the Jews.”

On the Jewish Mount Rushmore, Would Ulysses S. Grant Make it?

Do you ever wonder what, one hundred years from now, historians will make of Obama’s record?  And how about something more specific: his record with Jews?  I do.  But reading Jenna Weissman Joselit’s review of a new book on Ulysses S.

The Military and Me: Or, How Jews Changed the Army and the Civil War

I recently started reading Eric Foner’s “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery,” which won a Pulitzer this year.  It’s a subtle yet fast-moving narrative about Lincoln’s evolution from a man merely averse to slavery to the one who would abolish the institution forever in America. Slavery in America is inexhaustible topic for historians, but a subject harder to come by is Jews in America, at least before the late 19th century.

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