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Part 1: Introduction to the Jewish immigrant experience

(40 minutes)

  1. Use the photo activity to provide students with background and context for the lesson. You may choose to share additional content from the introductory essay.
  2. Choose 5–6 images from the photo activity and tape or place them around the room, labeling them with numbers (#1, #2, etc.)
  3. Write or display the focus question and have a student read it aloud. Focus question: What was it like to be a Jewish immigrant worker in New York at the turn of the century?
  4. Direct students to walk around the room (no particular order is necessary), using their Observations and Impressions Worksheet as a guide for exploring the information and images.
  5. Divide class into three groups (or more, depending on the number of students you have) and give each group a few of the images and accompanying information. They will look at these more closely together.
  6. At the end, bring students together for a discussion based on the focus question. Be sure to point out key themes:
    1. Reasons Jews left their countries of origin and their expectations for life in the United States
    2. Differences in the Jewish immigrant experience—immigrants arriving before 1900 could move up in economic class while more recent immigrants started at the lower rungs of the manufacturing business
    3. Details of the experiences of immigrants in terms of home, work, and social life

Alternative Methods for the Introductory Activity

Method 1: Gallery Walk

  1. Choose 5-6 images from the photo activity and tape or place them around the room, labeling them with numbers (#1, #2, etc.)
  2. Write or display the focus question and have a student read it aloud. Focus question: What was it like to be a Jewish immigrant worker in New York at the turn of the century?
  3. Individually, or in groups of 2–4, students should start at one image and respond in writing to the following prompts, posting their responses next to the image, either on sticky notes or butcher paper. (It is helpful to have each group use a different color sticky note or marker.)
    1. What kind of image is this (a photograph, illustration, or political cartoon)?
    2. How does this image make you feel?
    3. What questions would you ask to learn more about what is going on in this image?
    4. Each student/group should rotate to the next image and do the same until they have seen the whole gallery.
    5. At the end, bring students together for a discussion around the focus question. Be sure to reference their observations and questions, and point out key ideas:
      1. Reasons Jews left their countries of origin and their expectations for life in the United States
      2. Differences in the Jewish immigrant experience—immigrants arriving before 1900 could move up in economic class while more recent immigrants started at the lower rungs of the manufacturing business
      3. Details of the experiences of immigrants in terms of home, work, and social life

Method 2: Whole Class Activity

For smaller groups of students, or with learners who need more direction from an educator, follow the protocol for the worksheet activity or the gallery walk, but do it as an entire class, being sure that every student has a chance to share and respond equally.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Part 1: Introduction to the Jewish immigrant experience." (Viewed on March 4, 2024) <http://jwa.org/node/22125>.