Crossing Lines: Histories of Jews and Gentiles in Three Communities

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9780688080235: Crossing Lines: Histories of Jews and Gentiles in Three Communities

In describing the experiences of Jews migrating to three small Maine communities at the turn of the century, the author paints a microcosm of the inevitable conflicts and reconciliations between Jewish immigrants and the Gentile establishment. 15,000 first printing. $25,000 ad/promo.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A chronicle of Jewish settlement and assimilation in three Maine towns--Bangor, Mount Desert Island, and Calais--during the first half of this century, well told by a sociologist native to the region. By the end of the 19th century, Goldstein says, Bangor was a thriving lumber town and important railway hub. Its few Jewish citizens--mostly Germans who had emigrated during the 1840's and 50's--were unobtrusive, largely nonobservant, and held in high esteem by their Christian neighbors. (The Russian and Polish Jews who arrived later, mostly Orthodox and desperately poor, had a much harder time blending in.) Although Bangor never saw any real persecutions, the author explains, anti-Semitic sentiment among local residents increased as the Jewish population grew. Mount Desert Island, a fashionable summer resort near Bar Harbor, was largely off-limits to Jews of any class during this period: Most of its hotels and clubs had explicit ``restrictions'' forbidding the accommodation of Jews as members or guests. Only the little hamlet of Calais, which made no pretense of fashion or power, seemed untroubled by the newcomers: Its tiny Jewish population included some of the most prosperous and influential members of the community, who moved with ease among the older families of the region. Vivid and insightful, but very small in scope. Historians and sociologists--and, probably, Jews and New Englanders--will find Goldstein's study useful and diverting, but its subject is too narrow for just about everyone else. (Twenty b&w photos--not seen.) -- Copyright 1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

This popularly written and lovingly researched study of Jewish-Gentile relations in three Maine communities--Bangor, Mount Desert Island, and Calais--sheds light on Jewish life outside the major centers of American Jewish life, and highlights the theme of diversity, since Jewish-Gentile relations in the three communities could scarcely have been more different. Goldstein successfully conveys the feel of life in these communities, and her data on ethnic interactions and prejudice in each locale add much to our knowledge. But she shies away from the generalizations and conceptual insights that might have added broader significance to this work, and ignores available hypotheses and comparable data from other communities that might have given the book greater depth. Still, this should be of substantial interest to anyone interested in Maine, and especially its Jews.
- Jonathan D. Sarna, Brandeis Univ., Waltham, Mass.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Goldstein, Judith S.
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