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Chapter 11 - Acculturation When the B'nai Khaim began coming to America, immigration to the United States was at its historic peak. In the ten years before the outbreak of World War I, ten million "foreigners" came here, nearly a quarter of all that came in the years since 1820 when official statistics begin. This inpouring seemed to many sociologists as too big a lump to be absorbed in the American "Melting Pot." To professional patriots this massive immigration looked not only as socially indigestible but even as a threat to the health of established institutions. Its newer elements-Jews, Italians and, in particular, Slavs-were deemed inherently backward people, "descendants of those who always stayed behind," as a leading Professor of Sociology summed it all up. Or as a eugenicist for a Congressional committee "proved it" statistically, they were "more susceptible to the social inadequacies-to pauperism, insanity, epilepsy, etc. than the older immigrant stock and the natives." In a word, he declared, "The people from Southern and Eastern Europe possess mental capacities basically inferior to those of other nationality groups living in the United States." (See note #1) Their inflow, therefore, should be sharply reduced, the arguments went, and those already here thoroughly "Americanized." As a wit put it at the time, every foreigner should sport an American-made fountain pen in his breast pocket. A B'nai Khaim would begin this process of Americanization by attending an evening school to learn English. His American cousin would caution him not to speak his own tongue≠ Yiddish, Russian-on the street: "You don't want to sound like a greenhorn." If you go for a walk, wear a necktie, and if a lady is with you walk like an American, on the curb-side. In a street≠car give your seat to a lady who is standing. Say "excuse me" and "thank you," and knock before you enter. In the store stand in line for your "next," and don't haggle over the price. Gradually, you establish yourself in your job or in your business. You get married. Your name has long since been changed from Moishe to Morris, and now people call you Murray. Your wife's name had been changed from Sarah to Sadie; now her friends call her Sally. Before long you have children whom you name in accordance with family tradition, after deceased relatives, but you do it in the American fashion. You name your daughter Marcia, after Aunt Malka, not Molly as your cousin had named your sister when she came here. And you name your son Seymour after Uncle Simkha. You have long ago given up reading the Yiddish papers. You read the local dailies. You also read Time and Life, and occasionally the Wall Street Journal. You become as excited about the World Series as your "American" neighbors-remnants of older immigrant stocks, Irish, German, German Jews. You have moved "uptown" and live in a "mixed" neighborhood. Your son is graduating from high school and is escorting a gentile classmate to the Senior Prom. The old generation is passing and so also are its religious customs and civil mores. The new has gone through college and the girls have become school teachers, social workers. Their brothers are rapidly moving up the ladder of the professions: pharmacy, accountancy, dentistry, law, medicine, mathematics, the sciences. They are moving from "uptown" to the suburbs. Some now think of themselves as "Americans of Jewish extraction" or as "plain American." They have become "acculturated" as their parents had been "Americanized." Acculturation in America has meant the gradual adaptation of the cultures of diverse immigrant minority groups to the culture of the settled majority. For the Jews, taking the experience of the B'nai Khaim as an example, this meant the gradual submersion of a traditional religious culture into a secular culture that has been built up over three centuries through the confluence of the diverse cultures of the many immigrant minorities. National patterns were thus fashioned in economic and political philosophies, in business and social relations, in morals and manners, in modes of recreation and sports, in prejudices and sanctions. To belong and not to be excluded, you fit your daily life into the common mold. The daily newspapers, the weekly and monthly journals, and-in recent years≠ radio and television supply the guidelines. Macy's tells you what to wear; the "A & P" what to eat; the TV commercials how to retain your schoolgirl complexion and how to avoid "B.O." Time, Life and U.S. News and World Report direct you to the consensus on the nation's war policy, on "fighting Communism," on the Negro question. The war in Vietnam was still only a small black patch of clouds on the distant horizon when our inquiry got underway, and we did not raise the question with the B'nai Khaim of how they felt about it. Negro integration was the question which agitated the public at the time. So we asked: 1. Are you in favor of Negro integration (a) in the schools? (b) in housing? (c) socially (dancing parties, for example)? 2. Give reasons for your answers. The "yes" and "no" answers are listed in Table 11 below. Looking at the bottom. line of the Table, we see that 85 per cent of our people said "yes" to the question on school integration. But only 56 per cent favored integration in housing, and a still smaller percentage (41) favored social integration for the Negro. That the answers had been carefully thought through and were not haphazard may be judged from the growing unsureness on how to reply. In the "doubt" column (blank) this unsureness rose from less than 2 per cent in the case of the generally acceptable school integration (after all, this had been made mandatory by the U.S. Supreme Court Decision of 1954), to 8 per cent in housing and 12 per cent in the case of social equality. In the case of housing and social integration, the historically ingrained prejudices of white Americans engulfed the attitudes even of such traditionally compassionate people as the Jews, if the responses of the B'nai Khaim may be taken as a representative sample. A native-born B'nai Khaim female writes from Buffalo: "Our closest friends overseas were a lovely Negro couple- wife was a teacher, husband a lawyer. We ate at each other's home, went to parties together. Somehow this same relationship could probably have never taken place here because of our mode of living. Our friends would taboo this relationship in America." In the attitude towards the Negro question a cruel irony must plague a Jewish conscience. It is only a generation or so since Jews were discriminated against in employment and as neighbors. Some of us will remember "TO LET" signs carrying the warning "for gentiles only," and employment ads, openly or tacitly telling applicants "no Jews need apply." An elderly B'nai Khaim from Buffalo tells me that when Negroes began moving in on the "refined" neighborhood into which she had moved from an immigrant slum some 10-12 years earlier she expressed concern to her neighbor, Mrs. Schmidt, a left-over from an older generation, that "they" were going to spoil the neighborhood. Mrs. Schmidt matter-of-factly said, "This is the way we felt when you people began coming here." Few studies of the nature presented here are available for comparison between the attitudes of the B'nai Khaim and those of other segments of our population toward Negro integration. Sampling surveys through personal interviews of 1200 to 1500 adult whites in the population-at-large brought out the information that at the end of 1963 school integration for the Negro was favored by 75 per cent in the North and by 30 per cent in the South. For housing the corresponding percentages were 70 and 51. (See note #3) But comparisons of this sort are seldom strictly valid. Differences in demographic composition of the samples must yield contradictory results. Differences in age, sex distribution, education, religious backgrounds, nativity, family income, occupation and location of respondents effect different results. From similar samplings in 1951 it was found that in the North 92 per cent of Jews favored Negro school integration; 60 per cent of white Protestants and 73 per cent of White Catholics. In none of these samplings, however, was the attitude toward social integration probed. Response differences among the B'nai Khaim bear on this question of sampling comparison. In our case, these differences arise not so much between male and female, between native≠ and foreign-born, as between B'nai Khaim of different levels of education and between B'nai Khaim of different degrees of religious orthodoxy. The higher the educational level (college graduates) of the respondents, we find, the more favorable is their attitude toward Negro integration. At the same time, the more religiously conscious (affiliation with a congregation) the less favorable is their attitude. There were 17 B'nai Khaim, male and female, first and second generation, who answered "no" to every one of the three forms of integration. Of these 17, only two (native-born males) had gone through college; 14 were members of a shule, as follows: 6 Orthodox 5 Conservative 2 Reform 1 Unitarian __ 14 Then there were 42 respondents, 22 males and 20 females, who answered "yes" to all three forms of integration. Eight of the 22 males were foreign-born and 14 native-born. All but two of the eight foreign-born and all but one of the 14 native-born had graduated from college. Only nine of the 22 were affiliated with a synagogue: 1 Orthodox 4 Conservative 4 Reform __ 9 Of the 20 "3-yes" females, five were foreign-born and 15 native-born. Of the five foreign-born, one is a college graduate and one is still in college. Of the 15 "3-yes" native-born females all but one had gone through college. Only nine of the 20 belonged to a congregation: 2 Orthodox 5 Conservative 2 Reform __ 9 In short, the 42 "3-yes" B'nai Khaim were almost all college graduates; less than half were shule members. Of the 17 "3-no" B'nai Khaim only two were college graduates and 14 were shule members. Recently, a finding was reported that anti-Semitism is greatest among the most orthodox of church-goers, among those committed "to a literal interpretation of traditional Christian dogma." (See note 4) In the matter of school integration, there is practical unanimity among all segments of the B'nai Khaim. The unanimity breaks down when we come to the housing question. Here the B'nai Khaim females are less favorably inclined than the B'nai Khaim males. Two-thirds of the males approve neighborhood integration. Only 45 per cent of the females approve. In extenuation, it should be known that nearly 15 per cent of the females failed to answer yes or no-remained in doubt≠ against only 4 per cent of the males who remained unsure. Similar differences obtain in the attitudes of males and females regarding social integration. Of the males, 45 per cent were in favor; of the females 33 per cent. Of the males, 10 per cent remained in doubt; but 22 per cent of the females could not make up their minds one way or another. The reasons which most of our people gave for their "no" answers were the stereotypes Americans traditionally have given for their antipathy to "foreigners." As recently as one generation ago white Christian Americans objected to Jews as neighbors because, they claimed, Jews are "aggressive, noisy, dirty, clannish, greedy, loud." (See note 5) In disapproving Negro integration one female B'nai Khaim explained, "they make too much nOise and trouble." Other B'nai Khaim females who disapproved argued that the majority of Negroes were "inferior"; "they were made inferior"; "integration can only lead to trouble." Several were more forthright. One said, "I don't believe in it," and another confessed, "pure selfishness." A third explained, "Sad school experience as a child," and a foreign-born male spouse disapproved because of "fear of deterioration of the neighborhood." Other disapproving males claimed the "Negroes are not ready;" "the country is not ready"; Negroes are "not equal socially and culturally"; they are "morally and intellectually inferior." B'nai Khaim who reacted favorably reasoned things out, for the most part. One foreign-born male said, "accept the inevitable." Others argued, "they are human beings"; "they are people." One said, "Why not?" And another: "White and black will never love each other until they embrace each other." From one of the Rabbi's granddaughters: "I don't feel that a person should be discriminated against because his skin is darker than mine, or that because some might be undesirable, that all of them are undesirable." One "3-yes" female: "Can think of no reason not to." And another "3-yes" female, Israel born: "Is anything else as consistent with Judaism and humanitarianism?" Denial of Negro integration, her American-born husband declared, "is socially evil and morally wrong, and makes a mockery of all our professed ideals." One female thought that "acceptance of the Negro could be real beginning of peace"; and another felt: "It's time." The B'nai Khaim are not politically motivated. Nowhere in their comments on the Negro question did they refer to political factors or political implications in the revolt of the Negro for his Civil Rights. Their politics begins and ends with the exercise of the ballot, mostly on the Democratic side. We have found that of the 206 B'nai Khaim who voted in 1962 in the Presidential election preceding our inquiry, only a few were active party members-five foreign-born and four native-born; three males and six females. But over 90 per cent of them voted, 82 per cent Democrat. Less than 7 per cent voted Republican. Two per cent voted "other" parties, and another 2 per cent entered a dash for an answer. (See Table 12.) The rest, less than 7 per cent, did not vote. To the question how they expected to vote in the "next" (1964) presidential election, the Democrats outnumbered Republicans 151 to 9, with 36 uncertain. One native-born male B'nai Khaim wrote: "depends upon who is running," and a foreign-born females spouse declared, "1 don't know; that's my business." Voting to her is a sacred secret. In 1962 she had voted Democrat. Five of the 14 who voted Republican in 1962 lived in Cleveland. The other nine cast their Republican ballots in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Bangor. The political spectrum of the B'nai Khaim is not geographically confined. The degree of acculturation of the B'nai Khaim may best be judged from their reading habits and from the radio and television programs which give them cultural sustenance. We were not able to evaluate their air-wave programs; we did not study their preferences. But we did obtain a listing of their readings. We asked what daily papers they read, what weeklies and what monthly and quarterly journals not pertaining to their business or professions, and what books. This is what we learned: All but one of our foreign-born male B'nai Khaim read their local English-language dailies; and all but four of the foreign≠born females; all 29 native-born males, and all 34 native-born females, as shown below in Table 13: Twelve of the 46 foreign-born B'nai Khaim, seven males and five females, read Yiddish papers, two of the females reading Yiddish papers only. None of the 63 native-born B'nai Khaim read any Yiddish newspapers. All these read English papers only. The kind of papers they read may be judged ftom the following examples. In New York, they read the Post (8), the Times (7). Only one read the Daily News; two read the World Telegram and Sun. Elsewhere, too, they read the more sober, more liberal papers- the Sun-Times in Chicago, the Times in Los Angeles, the Courier Express in Buffalo, the Plain Dealer in Cleveland. Several out-of-towners read, in addition to their local papers, the New York Times, The new York Post, the Wall Street Journal. Two read the Daily Worker (New York) and one read the People's World (San Francisco). The B'nai Khaim newspaper readership, then, is strictly in the liberal vein, with a squint to the left, and on the Democratic side of the political spectrum. Of special significance for our study is the complete disappearance of Yiddish papers from the readership list of the native-born B'nai Khaim, both male and female. We asked our females, as representing the family, if they spoke Yiddish at home. Only 41 per cent of the native-born B'nai Khaim females and 25 per cent of the wives of native-born B'nai Khaim males said yes. (Table 14). But many added the revealing information that they spoke Yiddish only "occasionally," "sometimes," "a little," "for telling jokes," or, "to say things we do not want the children to understand." Seventy-six, or nearly 70 per cent, of the 109 female respondents, read a weekly journal; sixty-two, or nearly 60 per cent, read one or more of the national weeklies (Time. Life, etc.); 25 read Jewish weeklies, (See note #6) and 14 of these read Jewish weeklies only. None read a Yiddish weekly. Male and female share in this readership about equally. Proportionately, however, more females than males read Jewish weeklies, and many more females read Jewish weeklies only (Table 15). The greater readership of Jewish weeklies by the women, mostly native-born, is obviously due to the fact that these journals carry the social gossip of the Jewish community of special interest to the ladies. Among the Jewish weeklies which our respondents read, the Buffalo Jewish Review and Observer leads with 11 readers. This reflects the fact that Buffalo was the early concentration point of the B'nai Khaim immigrants and still has the largest number (30) of the B'nai Khaim families (See note #7) in America. Next to the Review, with three readers each, come the Jewish Independent of Cleveland and the Jewish Exponent of Philadelphia. A curious phenomenon, not unexpected, to be sure, is the concentration of the B'nai Khaim, male and female, on the safe and sound weeklies. Life appears on the list 26 times; Time, 22 times; Newsweek, 20 times; Look, 14 times. For high-brow reading, we find the Saturday Review with eight readers and the New Yorker with seven. For "radical" reading we have National Guardian, three times; the Nation, twice and the New Republic and I.F. Stone's Weekly each with one reader. For the most part, solid American bourgeois. The dailies and the weeklies may be thought of as family papers. Father, Mother and the children all read the daily paper that comes to the house, although each may favor different sections: Father, the stockmarket quotations; Mother and daughter, the store bargains; son, the sports. By and large, Father and Mother also read the same weeklies. We therefore made no separate run of these papers for spouses, which would have involved us in a duplication of the count. Not so with monthly and quarterly magazines. Here husband and wife may have different interests: The wife may find intellectual nourishment in McCalls; the husband in Popular Science. Altogether, 75 out of a total of 109 B'nai Khaim reported reading 42 different magazines of general circulation in 1963, besides 13 Jewish monthlies and one Yiddish monthly. Five of the 75 read only Jewish magazines and one only the Yiddish. The native-born women read the largest variety (26) and the native-born males the next largest (17). Understandably, the foreign-born B'nai Khaim read from a greatly restricted list.The foreign-born males read nine different magazines and the foreign-born females, seven. Proportionately, more females (65 per cent) than males (60 per cent) read monthly magazines. The proportion was greatest for native-born females (73 per cent). For the native-born males it was 55 per cent. Among the foreign-born the percentage was higher for the males (70) than for the females (54). The immigrant males, you will recall from Chapter 4, had a greater literacy rate than the females when they came here, and more learned to read English. Of immediate interest is the fact that seven of the 13 B'nai Khaim who read the Jewish monthly magazines were native≠born females, while none of the native-born males read any. The remaining six were accounted for equally by the foreign-born males and females (Table 16). Of the five who read Jewish magazines only three were native-born females. Among the monthly periodicals with national circulation which our people read, the Reader's Digest led with 23 readers, of whom 14 were foreign-born. This suggests that the B'nai Khaim who, for the most part, missed out on formal education either in the old country or the new are reaching out for learning, even if only in capsulated form. Next in readership come Better Homes and Gardens (9 readers), Harper's (6), Consumer Reports (4), Commentary (3), and so on down to Mad (!) and 22 others with one reader each, including the staid Atlantic Monthly and the leftist Monthly Review and Science and Society (a quarterly). Seventeen additional magazines were read by spouses only, among them The Kiplinger Letter, U.S. News and World Report, Partisan Review, New York Review of Books, and the Yiddish Zukunft. The dailies, weeklies and monthlies our people read establish them as "Americans." They read them in the same proportions, it would seem, as does the public in general. Reader's Digest, Life and Look lead the country's readership as they do the B'nai Khaim's readership. (See note #8) The B'nai Khaim thereby cease to be outsiders looking in; they are in. They have become "acculturated." The values promulgated in these periodicals have become their values. Few of our people read periodicals of a critical stance. Fewer read radical journals. Fewer, still, read intellectual periodicals. For "quality magazines" we have six reading Harper's, but only three read Commentary, one Partisan Review, one the New York Review of Books, and one the Atlantic Monthly. The quantity and quality of books the B'nai Khaim and their spouses read, outside their professions, confer upon them the status of middle- to upper middle-class Americans. In 1963, 119 B'nai Khaim and their spouses, 57 per cent of the total, read a minimum of 386 listed books. In actuality many more than this number of books were read. Some of our readers did not list the books they read, but lumped them in groups, such as "fiction," "plays," or said simply "too many to list." We counted nearly 40 of what we call such book "clusters": "too many to list," "plays by Pinter, O'Neil and Beckett," "Spy books by Fleming and Helen MacInnes," "Biography," "one book every two to three weeks," "Pearl Buck's books," "fiction," "read a great deal" (an invalid), the "Great Books Series," "art books," etc. Most of the listed books were in the field of fiction, and many of these from the current "Best Seller" lists. But many were non-fiction, such as history and biography, poetry and plays; several were well-known classics, from Shakespeare to Churchill. The native-born read proportionately more books than the foreign-born, and females read proportionately more than the males, except for the foreign-born females and the spouses of foreign-born females, as shown in Table 17. That Table also shows that only 11 out of the 20 foreign-born males read books, and only eight of the 25 foreign-born females. The relatively larger number of books shown for the males than for the females resulted, in part, from the coincidental fact that three of the 11 reading males read 26 of the 42 books accredited to all of the 11. Many foreign-born females, as already noted, lack the education to read books. The big readers in our survey are the native≠born women. In line with accepted tradition, the females are the bearers of a people's culture. This holds true in our case. The cultural level attained by the B 'nai Khaim does not, however, rest on their reading habits alone. Many of them, more than 50 per cent, in fact, broaden their cultural interests by attending concerts, and 60 per cent by going to the theater. Table 18 gives a rundown of these activities of the B'nai Khaim. Extenuating circumstances prevented many others from engaging in these events. We have no information by which to judge whether the B'nai Khaim patronage of the performing arts is high or low, or average, compared with other ethnic groups or with the population≠at-large. It does seem that the large percentage of attendance at symphony concerts places our people at a high level of music appreciation. It should be borne in mind that not every city has a symphony orchestra or a repertory theater of its own. In most cases would-be patrons of music and drama depend on visits of artists from other cities. As many as 62 of our respondents said they had not attended a concert or play in 1963. They did not tell us why. In several cases, we know, special circumstances prevented their attendance. In one instance a family of seven was in mourning that year. In another, illness of an invalid wife and mother immobilized the family. Among the foreign-born many are too old to venture out to enjoy public entertainment. In general, males and females attended these cultural-events in about equal numbers. In the case of symphonies, attendance by the native-born and their spouses was conspicuously lower than their attendance of concerts, and even more so compared with plays. Why this was so we do not know. Most of our people identified the orchestras and plays and soloists ("concerts") by name: The New York Philharmonic, and the Philadelphia, the Boston, the Cleveland and the-Lenin≠grad orchestras, as well as several lesser ones. For chamber music some listed the Budapest String Quartet among others. For operas they listed Rigoletto, La Traviata. For soloists they listed Heifetz, Piatigorsky, Oistrach, Serkin, Rubinstein, Fleisher. One listed Judy Garland and Victor Borge. The one who mentioned Heifetz added, "it was terrible!" The plays our people saw were the familiar Broadway and off-Broadway shows: The Miracle Worker; The Deputy; Brecht on Brecht; The Three-Penny Opera; Uncle Vanya; King Lear; Man of All Seasons; Raisin in the Sun; After the Fall; Rhinoceros; Pajama Game, etc. It should be borne in mind that the listings of books read, and of plays and concerts attended are for the year 1963. If they did not list Hamlet, they may have seen it an earlier time. If they did not list Anna Karenina, it may be they had read it the previous year. As the listings stand, they remind one of the fact that we are dealing here with people of whom nearly 70 per cent (of the native-born) are college graduates and, in any case, with a people who by family and ethnic tradition have always valued knowledge, loved music and cherished the theater. Notes to Chapter 11 (1) This attempt of the older immigrant stock to denigrate the qualities of the newer stocks goes back to Colonial days. See, for example, the citations in the present writer's "Statistics and the Immigration Problem," in the American Journal of Sociology, July 1924, and in his "Statistics and the Race Hypothesis" in Social Forces, June 1926. Also, "The Race Hypothesis of the United States Immigration Commission," in Jewish Social Service Quarterly, September 1927, by the same author. (2) In the Family Tree (fold-out) you may see all of the Americanized names of the B'nai Khaim. (3) Reported in Scientific American, July 1964, by Herbert H. Hyman and Paul B. Sheatsley, in "Attitudes Toward Segregation," pp. 16ff. (4) See Information Service, National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America, Vol. XLV, No. 13: "Christian Beliefs and Anti-Semitism. " (5) Jews on the Mind of America, by Charles Stember and others. Basic Books, 1966, p. 98, Table 34. (6) Published in English, but covering events chiefly of interest to the local Jewish community. (7) The cities next in order are Los Angeles (18), Cleveland (17), Chicago (15), Brooklyn (12), Philadelphia (9), Queens (8), Bangor (5), 114 of the 148 B'nai Khaim families in this country. The remaining 34 live in 18 towns with fewer than five B'nai Khaim families in each. (8) The readership of American periodicals is frequently published by Politz Media Service. See, for example, Advertising Age, April 25, 1966.