“Getting Along” in Parkchester: A New Era in Jewish–Irish Relations in New York City 1940–1970.
Gurock, Jeffrey S.
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Abstract: The history of conflict between New York City’s Irish Americans and east European Jews dates back to the close of the 19th century. They disputed over jobs, union memberships, housing, and frequently over politics. These conflicts crescendoed exponentially in the decade or more of the Great Depression in Gaelic neighborhoods, now more than ever, the word on the street was that the Jews were taking over. The rhetoric and organizations of Michigan-based radio preacher Father Charles Coughlin gave voice and activism to local frustrations. However, in 1940, within a new neighborhood built in the Bronx that attracted a majority of Irish and a large proportion of Jews, there was no organized anti-Semitism, no outbursts of violence, or even significant complaints that more callow Jews were being roughed up in the streets or play areas. If animosities existed, negative feelings were kept within families and were not expressed in daily youthful encounters. Why life in Parkchester was so different is the conceit of this study. Its community history from 1940–1970s constituted a turning point in their previously-contested ethnic group relationship while what went on as Jews and the Irish ‘got along’ marks off the limits of conviviality of that time.
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Jewish Experience in America)
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