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Is there a distinction, historically/sociologically, between Jews who came to America from western Europe in the 19th century and those who came from eastern Europe in the early 20th?

I know nowadays both groups are just labeled Ashkenazim, but I have often felt disconnected from certain parts of “American Jewish culture” and it made me start thinking about this divide. Historically, the ones who came to the US from Germany were the ones who came with money and prestige, while the ones who came from the Pale of Settlement were the ones working in clothing factories and living in tenements in NYC (correct me if I’m wrong). There’s a stereotype of all Jews being rich or whatever, but a LOT of my peers do come from privileged backgrounds and it shows. There’s a weird undercurrent of thinking that you have to have money to be Jewish (I mean, it’s not entirely wrong, what with day school and shul membership $$$ etc.)

But my family came from the latter group (eastern Europe in the 1900s), and we never had generational wealth or any of the culture that comes with it. I have a feeling that much of US Ashkenazi “culture” is really just German Jewish culture but I can’t really prove it. I believe it has always dominated but no one seems to mention any difference between the two groups nowadays. Is there anything to this or am I just imagining things?

I don’t mean to be offensive to anyone in this post; it’s just what I’ve noticed in my own communities. I know all communities are different but this is what I’ve seen personally. I started really thinking about it after coming back from Israel, where the affluence factor is really not there at all, the way it is in the US.

submitted by /u/witch-haus
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Source: Reditt

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