JEWS CAME WEST
At best, it was a wide-open wonderland.
At worst, better than where they came from.
Slightly more than fifty years ago, the ethnic history movement awakened interest in the unrecorded histories of the nation's minorities, including the Jews in the American West. Once begun, the search inspired the organization of Western Jewish historical societies, museums, and archives. Some astonishing pioneer memoirs and novels were put back in print, and present-day historians and biographers have published dozens of new works. Drawing on these new and varied resources, authors and screenwriters have written a few novels and films, and more are in progress. With some 400 years to draw on, starting with the crypto Jews who settled in Spanish Texas and New Mexico, Western Jewish history abounds with male and female personalities and trailblazing deeds and misdeeds. It also offers fresh insights into how Jews retained their identity while pioneering under hostile and hospitable conditions. Who we were, who we are, and who we are becoming is gradually emerging from these vital and richly variegated roots.
- Harriet Rochlin. RochlinRootsWest@gmail.com