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The Jewish Experience Outside of America's Large Cities
Hoboken even though it is only a ferry ride from lower Manhattan is a very small city and like many small cities and towns across the United States, Jews are not only a minority; they are an insignificant minority in terms of their numbers. It may be strange to think, but our ancestors especially those from eastern Europe were accustomed to living in communities in which Jews were large minorities , sometimes almost 50% of the population.
On the lower east side of Manhattan, there were synagogues, mikvot, Kosher butchers, burial societies, benevolent societies, Yiddish language newspapers, religious schools, a virtual eastern European world crammed into the tip of Manhattan. Yes, America was different, but the neighborhood even including the Italians and Irish provided all the institutions of European Jewry and a similar balance in population between Jews and gentiles as well.
In the hinterland even in places like Hoboken so close to a large concentration of Jewry, it took pioneering spirit to confront and adapt to the non-Jewish world. For most Hoboken was the place they landed, got on the ferry to Ellis Island and returned only for the trains which took them to Buffalo and on to Chicago. But in Hoboken and other small cities like it, we have an example of how Jews of the late 19th century and early 20th century adapted to immersion in American culture.