Roads Taken: The Great Jewish Migrations to the New World and the Peddlers Who Forged the Way
by Hasia R. Diner
Finalist for the 2015 National Jewish Book Award--Celebrate 350 Award for American Jewish Studies
"In this marvelous account of a figure that was, until now, better known in fiction and folk tales, Hasia Diner imaginatively takes us down some of the dusty roads through which Jewish peddlers hawked their wares. She shows how work, culture, and religious belief are deeply entwined."—Walter A. Friedman, author of Birth of a Salesman: The Transformation of Selling in America
Between the late 1700s and the 1920s, nearly one-third of the world’s Jews emigrated to new lands. Crossing borders and often oceans, they followed paths paved by intrepid peddlers who preceded them. This book is the first to tell the remarkable story of the Jewish men who put packs on their backs and traveled forth, house to house, farm to farm, mining camp to mining camp, to sell their goods to peoples across the world. Persistent and resourceful, these peddlers propelled a mass migration of Jewish families out of central and eastern Europe, north Africa, and the Ottoman Empire to destinations as far-flung as the United States, Great Britain, South Africa, and Latin America.
Hasia Diner tells the story of millions of discontented young Jewish men who sought opportunity abroad, leaving parents, wives, and sweethearts behind. Wherever they went, they learned unfamiliar languages and customs, endured loneliness, battled the elements, and proffered goods from the metropolis to people of the hinterlands. In the Irish Midlands, the Adirondacks of New York, the mining camps of New South Wales, and so many other places, these traveling men brought change—to themselves and the families who later followed, to the women whose homes and communities they entered, and ultimately to the geography of Jewish history.
Hasia R. Diner is the Paul and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History and director, Goldstein-Goren Center for American Jewish History, New York University. Among her numerous books is We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, a National Jewish Book Award winner. She lives in New York City.
The Rhode Island Hadassah book club meets the first Monday of every month, except for holidays, religious and national. Our first meeting of the year, in January, is devoted to voting on our choices of books for the rest of the calendar year. We usually read books of Jewish interest, but read a book each year that is non-Jewish, and of interest.
Marilyn Kagan is the coordinator. Contact her at email@example.com