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Sacred and secular: The place of public funerals in the immigrant life of American Jews

  • Arthur Aryeh Goren
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Immigrant Life 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    For Revel see,New York Times, 3 December 1940; 4 December 1940; Aaron Rothkoff, Bernard Revel,Builder of American Jewish Orthodoxy (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1972), 221–23; for Brandeis see,New York Times, 8 October 1941; Alpheus Thomas Mason,Brandeis: A Freeman's Life (New York: Viking Press, 1946), 637–38.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    “English Department,”Yiddishes Tageblat, 31 July 1902; “English Department,”Yiddishes Tageblat, 15 January 1905;New York Times, 23 April 1949; Melvin I. Urofsky,A Voice that Spoke for Justice: The Life and Times of Stephen S. Wise (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1982), 370–72.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Two studies of public funerals deserve mention: Leonard Dinnerstein, “The Funeral of Jacob Joseph,” inAnti-Semitism in American History, ed. David A. Gerber (Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1986), 275–301, and Ellen Kellman, “Sholem Aleichem's Funeral (New York, 1916): The Making of a National Pageant,”YIVO Annual 20 (1991): 277–304. Dinnerstein focuses on the riot that marred the funeral in the context of police brutality, ethnic group relations, anti-semitism, and municipal reform politics. Kellman's study pays meticulous attention to the funeral as cultural and social event and places it firmly within the context of communal politics.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kh. Khayus, “Gleybungen un minhagim in farbindung mitn tyt,”Filologin shriftn, vol. 2 (Vilna: Schiftn fun YIVO, 1928): 281–327; Jacob Shatzky, “Merkvirdige historische factn vegen der amoliger hevra kadisha,”39th yohr cemetery department yohrbuch und barichet (New York: Arbeiter Ring, 1946): 28–36.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    In this paragraph, I have drawn on two articles of mine, “Traditional Institutions Transplanted: the Hevra Kadisha in Europe and the United States,” inThe Jews of North America: Immigration, Settlement and Ethnic Identity, ed. Moses Rischin (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1987), 62–78; andSaints and Sinners: The Underside of American Jewish History (Cincinnati: The American Jewish Archives, 1988). See also, Marelyn Schneider,A History of a Jewish Burial Society: An Examination of Secularization (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1991), 83–105.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Forverts, 28 February 1903.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    J.S. Hertz,Hirsh Lekert (New York: Farlag Unser Tsait, 1952); Morris U. Schappes, “Hirsh Lekert, Worker Hero,”Jewish Life: A Progressive Monthly (June, 1952): 19–21.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Goren,Saints and Sinners, 19–21.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Abraham J. Karp, “New York Chooses a Chief Rabbi,”Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society 44 (March, 1955): 129–87, especially 181–82; Leonard Dinnerstein,Anti-Semitism in American History, 275–78, 280–98; Irving Howe,World of Our Fathers (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976), 123–24, 194–95; Gerald Sorin,A Time for Building: The Third Migration, 1880–1920 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 176–77.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ephraim Shimoff,Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Spektor: Life and Letters (Jerusalem: Sura Institute for Rabbinical Research and New York: Yeshiva University, 1959), 151–54;Hamelitz 48 (24 Adar 5656), 2–3;Hatzfira, 53 (1 Nissan 5656), 252.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hatzfira 53: 252;Hamelitz 48: 2.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    See the Hebrew section of Shimoff,Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Spektor, 139–58 for the texts of some of the eulogies, and the accounts inHamelitz 48 andHatzfira 53.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Yiddishes Tageblat, 29 July 1902;New York Times, 31 July 1902.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    New York Times, 29 July 1902;New York Times, 31 July 1920;Yiddishes Tageblat, 29 July 1902;Yiddishes Tageblat, 31 July 1902; Dinnerstein,Anti-Semitism in American History, 278–87.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Yiddishes Tageblat, 31 July 1902;New York Times, 31 July 1902.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Yiddishes Tageblat, 29 July 1902;Yiddishes Tageblat, 31 July 1902; TheNew York Times reported that many prosperous Jews “vied with each other in their efforts to secure in advance the right to bed buried near him in the cemetery,” one merchant offering $5,000 to the Beth Hamidrash Hagadol which had won the right to bury Rabbi Joseph in its cemetery. The offer was rejected (29 July 1902). Karp writes that the Beth Hamidrash Hagadol won the rights by promising the widow $1,500 and a $15 monthly stipend. Publications of theAmerican Jewish Historical Society 44 (March): 180–81.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    New York Times, 29 July 1902;New York Times, 31 July 1902.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    “English Department,”Yiddishes Tageblat, 31 July 1902.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Yiddishes Tageblat, 15 January 1905.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Cutouts fromNew York Evening Sun, New York Evening Post, New York Times, New York Sun, 13 January 1905 in H. Kasriel, “Sarasohn Scrapbook,”American Jewish Archives (Cincinnati, OH: Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion). TheEvening Post, for example, commented that “Inspector Titus and Captain Shaw preserved excellent order, which was in sharp contrast to the riots of two years ago, when a crowd of hoodlums stoned the hearse containing Rabbi Joseph's body and assaulted his mourners.” Victor R. Greene,American Immigrant Leaders, 1800–1910 (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987), 93–95, used much of the same materials I have in describing Sarasohn's funeral in the context of his discussion of Jewish immigrant leader.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Yiddishes Tageblat, 15 January 1905; “English Department,”Yiddishes Tageblat, 15 January 1905; “Sarasohn Scrapbook,”New York Sun, 15 January 1905.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    “Sarasohn Scrapbook,”New York Evening Post, 13 January 1905.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Yiddishes Tageblat, 15 January 1905; “English Department,”Yiddishes Tageblat, “Sarasohn Scrapbook,”New York Sun, 14 January 1905.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    “English Department,”Yiddishes Tageblat, 15 January 1905; cutouts fromEvening Post, “Sarasohn Scrapbook,”New York Times, 13 January 1905.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Forverts, 14 June 1909.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Warheit, 12 June 1909. For a contemporary critique of Gordin's work, see Louis Lipsky, “The Future of the Yiddish Theater,”The Maccabaean 16:4 (April, 1909): 134–38.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Warheit, 12 June 1909.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Warheit, 11 June 1909;Warheit, 12 June 1909;Warheit, 13 June 1909;Forverts, 11 June 1909;Forverts, 12 June 1909.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Gordin was buried in Washington Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY in a grave donated by a friend. See Goren,Saints and Sinners, 25, note 30 for the location of the grave.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Warheit, 14 June 1909;Forverts, 14 June 1909;New York Times, 9 May 1902.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Warheit, 14 June 1909;Forverts, 14 June 1909.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Forverts, 14 June 1909;Warheit, 14 June 1909. TheNew York Times, 14 June 1909, reported that Rabbi Judah L. Magnes and the Rev. Zevi Masliansky spoke. Both were also on the list of speakers scheduled to address the memorial meeting (Warheit, 13 June 1909) but are not mentioned in theForverts orWarheit reports of the meeting. In 1905, Magnes, a young Reform rabbi and Zionist, had headed the short-lived Jewish Defense Association, a coalition of downtown radicals and uptown donors, which raised money to buy arms for defense against pogroms in Russia. Masliansky, Zionist and religiously Orthodox, was a popular preacher for a variety of causes.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Forverts, 14 June 1909.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    See, for example, the warm tribute by Bernard G. Richards, a centerist Zionist active in the cultural life of the lower East Side (American Hebrew, vol. 84 [18 June 1909]: 172–73), and the critique of Gordin's dramatic work by Louis Lipsky, the Zionist, publicist and theater critic, ibid, 192–93. Kellman has made the point that popular Yiddish authors were often regarded as “national figures” and their funerals well attended. Kellman mentions the funerals of Nokhum Mayer Shaikevich-Shomer (1905), Gordin (1909) and Eliakum Zunser (1913). See Kellman,YIVO Annual 20: 303.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Morgen Zhurnal, 14 June 1909;Morgen Zhurnal, 13 June 1909. The issues of the YiddishesTageblat are missing for the dates under consideration in the microfilm runs held by the main Jewish research libraries. There are photographs of exposed bodies of Jewish dead. In nearly all cases, they are of pogrom victims and were taken for use as evidence or for propaganda purposes. See Zvi Gitelman,A Century of Ambivalence: The Jews of Russia and the Soviet Union, 1881 to the Present (New York: Schocken, 1988), 22, 30–31, 111. Gitleman does bring a photograph of the dead wife of a wealthy Jewish merchant in Siberia and notes in the caption the “combined Christian customs, such as the flowers and candles shown here, with their Jewish beliefs” (p. 85).Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Leon Stein,The Triangle Fire (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1962) is a detailed account of the fire and its aftermath. See also Charlotte Baum, Paula Hyman and Sonya Michel,The Jewish Woman in America (New York: Dial Press, 1976), 148–53.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Morgen Zhurnal, 27 March 1911;New York Times, 28 March 1911;Forverts, 28 March 1911;Forverts, 29 March 1911; Stein,Triangle Fire, 101, 105–106, 108.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Morgen Zhurnal, 27 March 1911;Yiddishes Tageblat, 17 March 1911;Forverts, 27 March 1911.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Maxine Schwartz Seller, “The Uprising of the Twenty Thousand: Sex, Class, and Ethnicity in the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909,” inStruggle a Hard Battle: Essays on Working Class Immigrants, ed. Dirk Hoerder (DeKalb, Ill.: Northern Illinois University Press, 1986), 254–79. Seller offers the following ethnic make-up of the shirtwaist makers at the time of the strike: “Of a total of 30,000 strikers, approximately 21,000 were Jewish women, 2,000 Italian women, 1,000 were American women, and 6,000 were men, almost all of them Jewish.” Her source is John Andrews and W.D. Bliss,History of Women in Trade Unions: Woman and Child Wage-Earners in the United States, vol. 10 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1911).Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    New York Times, 27 March 1911;New York Times, 30 March 1911;New York Times, 31 March 1911;Morgen Zhurnal, 26 March 1911;Forverts, 28 March 1911; Stein,Triangle Fire, 122–24, 128, 149.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Forverts, 30 March 1911;Forverts, 3 April 1911; Stein,Triangle Fire, 135–45.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Forverts, 2 April 1911.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    New York Times, 29 March 1911.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Ibid.;Morgen Zhurnal, 29 March 1911.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    New York Times, 30 March 1911;New York Times, 31 March 1911;Morgen Zhurnal, 29 March 1911;Morgen Zhurnal, 30 March 1911; Stein,Triangle Fire, 148–49.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Forverts, 6 April 1911; Stein,Triangle Fire, 149–52;Morgen Zhurnal, 5 April 1911.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    New York Times, 6 April 1911;Forverts, 6 April 1911; Stein,Triangle Fire, 149, 153–55. With unintentional irony, a historian of cemeteries comments on the monument marking the burial of the unidentified victims: “Though the memorial to the unidentified victims of the Triangle Factory Shirtwaist fire which stands in an empty field in Evergreen Cemetery, Brooklyn, is not lettered in Hebrew (and does not, for that matter, in any other fashion indicate the ethnicity of those it commemorates), it remains as a monument to the early twentieth century Jewish experience in America.” Roberta Halporn, “American Jewish Cemeteries: A Mirror of History,”Ethnicity and the American Cemetery, ed. Richard E. Meyer (Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1993), 143. For a photograph of the memorial see ibid., 146.Google Scholar
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    Kellman,YIVO Annual 20: 282–84, 288–97;Der Tog, 14 May 1916;Forverts, 14 May 1916.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Kellman,YIVO Annual 20: 287–88.Google Scholar
  50. 51.
    Kellman,YIVO Annual 20: 288–89. Kellman points out that “two important segments of the community⋯ were underrepresented in the levaye funeral,” the socialists and uptown Jews. She ascribes this to their opposition to the Jewish congress movement which Magnes supported at that time.Google Scholar
  51. 52.
    Forverts, 16 May 1916;Warheit, 16 May 1916;Tog, 16 May 1916; Kellman,YIVO 20: 290–92;American Hebrew 99:2 (19 May 1916): 40.Google Scholar
  52. 53.
    According to theWarheit (15 May 1916), Sholom Aleichem was interred temporarily (according to Orthodox practice) in a vault belonging to Congregation Ohab Zedek. The remains were eventually reburied in the Har Carmel Cemetery of the Workmen's Circle. For photographs of the monument see,Dos Sholom Aleichem Bukh, ed. Y.D. Berkowitz (New York: Sholom Aleichem Book Committee, 1926), 376–78.Google Scholar
  53. 54.
    Der Tog, 16 May 1916.Google Scholar
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    Der Tog, 16 May 1916; Kellman,YIVO Annual 20: 292.Google Scholar
  55. 56.
    Kellman,YIVO Annual 20: 301. The unveiling of Sholom Aleichem's monument took place on June 5 1921 in the presence of family and several thousands Yiddish writers (Berkovitz,Sholom Aleichem Bukh, 369).Google Scholar
  56. 57.
    Nakhman Meizel and Y.L. Peretz,Zein lebn un shafn (New York: Idisher Kultur Farband — IKUF, 1945), 350–54;Forverts, 6 April 1916;Forverts, 7 April 1916;Forverts, 17 April 1916;East and West (June 1915): 90–91. During the two days that Peretz' body lay in his home, an “honor-guard of students stood near the coffin and changed off every three hours.” Thousands of visitors — “authors, journalists, acquaintences, religious Jews, workingmen, young students” — passed by the coffin which was placed in Peretz' study. When the time came, “literary figures and family carried the coffin from the home.” More than 150,000 took part in or watched the procession. (See Meizel above.)Google Scholar
  57. 58.
    New York Times, 29 September 1920.Google Scholar
  58. 59.
  59. 60.
    New York Times, 27 August 1936.Google Scholar
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    Morgen Zhurnal, 27 August 1936.Google Scholar
  61. 62.
    Jacob Adler's funeral in April 1926 had all of the attributes of a funeral pageant of the tradition of the Jewish labor movement: the lying in state, memorial services in non-religious hall (Kessler's Second Avenue Theater), and the long procession through the streets of the lower East Side filled with tens of thousands of mourners.New York Times, 2 April 1926;New York Times, 3 April 1926. Noteworthy are Adler's intellectual ties with the Jewish labor community and the organizational input of the Jewish Actors Guild and the Jewish Writers Union.Google Scholar
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    Forverts, 9 June 1925. In its editorial on London's death, theForverts stressed that he had represented the Socialist Party and the Jewish quarter in Congress and “made the Jewish workers known” (9 June 1926).Google Scholar
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    Forverts, 9 June 1926.Google Scholar
  64. 65.
    New York Times, 9 June 1926;New York Times, 10 June 1926;Forverts, 10 June 1926. For the photograph of the coffin see page 10.Google Scholar
  65. 66.
    Ibid.;Der Tog, 9 June 1926;Der Tog, 10 June 1926.Google Scholar
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    Forverts, 9 October 1933;Forverts, 10 October 1933.Google Scholar
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    Morgen Zhurnal-Tageblat, 9 October 1933.Google Scholar
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    New York Times, 11 October 1933;New York Times, 12 October 1933;Forverts, 10 October 1933;Forverts, 11 October 1933;Forverts, 12 October 1933.Google Scholar
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    Melech Epstein,Profiles of Eleven (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1965), 338–42;New York Times, 31 October 1938.Google Scholar
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    Epstein, Profiles, 329–33, 343–44, 347–51;Forverts, 1 November 1938. On the front page of theForverts carrying the news of Vladeck's death, the paper published two poems and a feuilleton of his (31 October 1938).Google Scholar
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    Freiheit,Revolutsiáere lider un shirn (Geneva, Switzerland: Algemine idisher arbeiterbund in lita, poilen un rusland, 1905), 109;Forverts, 3 November 1938;New York Times, 3 November 1938.Google Scholar
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    32nd yehrlicher report fun dem cemetgery department (Arbeiter Ring, 1939): 10–16.Google Scholar
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    New York Times, 6 September 1951;Forverts, 4 September 1951;Forverts, 5 September 1951;Forverts, 5 September 1951.Google Scholar
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    Katheleen Neils Conzen, “Ethnicity as Festive Culture: Nineteenth-Century German America on Parade,”The Invention of Ethnicity, ed. Werner Sollors (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 46. For an influential study of this approach, see Susan G. Davis,Parades and Power: Street Theatre in Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1986).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Haifa University Press 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arthur Aryeh Goren
    • 1
  1. 1.Columbia University The Hebrew University of JerusalemIsrael

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