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Jews on the FrontierReligion and Mobility in Nineteenth-Century America$
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Shari Rabin

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781479830473

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479830473.001.0001

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Wandering Sons of Israel

Wandering Sons of Israel

Europe, America, and the Politics of Jewish Mobility

(p.13) 1 Wandering Sons of Israel
Jews on the Frontier

Shari Rabin

NYU Press

While Jews in Europe had long been associated with movement and alterity, most famously in the image of the Wandering Jew, in reality Jewish movement was heavily determined by state controls. Jewish identity in Europe remained a bureaucratic category, affecting Jewish mobility and religious life. In the United States, a confluence of legal, political, and economic structures meant that for men deemed white, including Jews, mobility was “unfettered.” This chapter explores incidents of American diplomacy from the 1850s, debates about peddling licenses and Sunday closing laws, and two incidents from the Civil War, including General Grant’s infamous Order No. 11. All of these demonstrate the linkages between mobility and whiteness as well as the complicated place of Jewish identity, as Americans tried to both affirm unfettered mobility and cope with the existential threats that it posed.

Keywords:   Europe, United States, mobility, diplomacy, whiteness, peddling, Civil War

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