Jewish Americans changed their names, but not on Ellis Island
Immigrants and inspectors at Ellis Island for legal checks at the registration room. This is how a well-worn joke in American Jewish culture goes. The Jewish immigrant landed on Ellis Island in New York. The procedures were confusing, ը the mess overwhelmed him. When one of the officials asked him: “What is your name”: he answered. “Shine Fergesen”, which means “I have already forgotten” in Yiddish. The official then registered his name as Sean Ferguson. Today, many white ethnic groups, including Jews, Italians, and Poles, believe that ignorant or ignorant officials on Ellis Island changed their family names when they arrived in the United States to sound more American. But there is, in fact, much more evidence that Jews changed their names to members of other white ethnic groups. As I read my book, I studied the legal motions for renaming the 20th century in New York City, which showed that thousands of Jewish immigrants, their children, had indeed changed their names. When American Jews celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month in May, it is worth reconsidering why and why the portrait of Alice Island was forcibly renamed. There is no evidence in the popular literature of the Yonkle cowboy Jew. Washington, DC Historians Marian Smith և Vincent Canato convincingly argue that insensitive Ellis Island officials have not forcibly changed the names of immigrants. In fact, immigration procedures did not usually include the question “What is your name?” The bureaucrats simply checked the names of the immigrants to make sure they matched the names already on the shipping lists. Evidence from popular literature further substantiates their arguments. Between 1892 and 1920, when thousands of immigrants passed through Ellis Island’s immigration station every day, popular magazines and books did not contain descriptions of the renaming of Ellis Island. And even after immigration slowed considerably in the 1920s, the popular books and magazines of the next four decades did not usually describe the changing names of immigrants by Ellis Island officials. Folk literature during this period studied a number of important topics, such as the origin and use of names, the social psychology of name change, Jewish humor, and Jewish immigration, but no one changed their name on Ellis Island. Indeed, a 1969 Jewish comic book even told an anecdote about Sean Ferguson. But it was a joke about an Yiddish actor who left for California to become a movie star. While working on the train, he tried to memorize a stage name, but forgot about it when he came face to face with a compelling Hollywood producer. The Cultural Changes of the ’60s and’ 70s It was not until the 1970s that the name change for Alice Island came to the American imagination. For example, a well-known 1979 book about the Alice Island immigrant experience described officials who “were random and did not think about names.” Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 film The Godfather, Part Two starred an insensitive immigration officer who named the young Vito Corleone after himself. What I would like to say is that the culture of the late 1960s and 1970s shaped these portraits of Ellis Island. After the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 abolished discriminatory immigration quotas that restricted immigration from Southeast Europe, American popular culture began to tell new stories that assessed the success of immigrants from those regions. Ellis Island itself, where Lyndon John Onson signed in 1965. The act became one of the most abandoned buildings in the community and became a prominent symbol of the triumph of the European immigrant struggle. President Lyndon B. John Onson signs Immigration’s Nationality Act on Alice Island. Photo by LBJ Library by Yojichi Okamoto. The 1960s վերջ The late 1970s also saw serious challenges to the credibility of the United States government. Pentagon documents show that the government misled the American people as the United States provided more and more troops to Vietnam. Persistent racial inequality erupted in riots across cities across the country. The Watergate scandal exposed crimes ումը obstruction of justice at the highest levels of government. The portraits of the arbitrary name change on Alice Island coincide with both the island’s new significance as a symbol of immigration and the growing distrust of state authority. Changing the name of betrayal of family values The change of name of Ellis Island also added another new theme to American culture in the 1970s. Search for authenticity. Historian Matthew Fry ob Jacobson has documented the search for many white ethnic groups in this age, including the Jews, in search of a “true” culture to promote their ethnic identity. “The Godfather” և “Hester Street”, which presented the challenges of immigration for a young Jewish family in New York, turned American culture to the Old World, the European countries from which white immigrants immigrated as a source of family values քային community integrity. And in this context, changing the names seemed like a betrayal of the family, the community and the identity. From the 1970s to the 1990s, novels, films, and plays depicting Jewish life, such as Wendy Wasserstein’s “Isn’t It Romantic?” և Barry Levinson’s “Avalon” was portrayed as a forgery or a sale. [Get the best of The Conversation, every weekend. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.] Although Jews were not the only ones to feel this longing for authenticity, my research shows that they changed their names disproportionately compared to other groups in response to American anti-Semitism. In a culture that began to accept the Old World as a source of true values, the fact that their parents and grandparents voluntarily changed their names from their original Jewish names may have saddened many American Jews. Blaming government officials on Alice Island for deleting Jewish names was a much easier task. But on Ellis Island, this emphasis only obscured the complex reasons why the Jews actually changed their names. Sean Ferguson’s joke is thus more than just a joke. It describes the ways in which the Jewish people have struggled and continue to struggle for their identity in America. It shows how difficult it is to deal with the past, but also how important that struggle can be. This article is republished from a vers’s non-commercial news site dedicated to sharing the ideas of academic experts. It was written by Kirsten Fermaglich, Michigan State University. Read more. The FBI is appealing to Hasidic Jews to fight anti-Semitism in the United States.